Our executive director, Amy Ginsburg, has been laid up by Covid for about ten days, so she hasn’t posted in awhile. Now that she’s fully recovered, the posting can begin again. And her first post is an article in today’s Bethesda Beat that discusses the candidates for county council in District 4. It’s an important election for North Bethesda, so get informed and be sure to vote by July 19 at the poll, through a mail-in ballot, or during early voting July 7 to 14.
Before the county council candidates, check out this article in Bethesda Beat on the County Executive candidates.
From Bethesda Beat
District 4 County Council Candidates
Carr, of Kensington, became the fifth Democrat in the race when he decided not to seek re-election to his current office as the state delegate representing District 18, — a seat he’s held since 2007 — and instead decided to run for the District 4 council seat.
He said in a previous interview with Bethesda Beat that the county needs a better coordinated response to mass flooding events, which can displace residents and endanger their safety.
Carr has also been a champion of advocating for more transparency in the operations of local government, including entities like the Housing Opportunities Commission, an organization that focuses on affordable housing. He believes the county needs stronger ethics laws and that local government needs to do better at engaging residents when it comes to decisions such as those involving future development.
He said his experience in the General Assembly — and prior to that, as a member of the Kensington Town Council — means he would be a good fit for a County Council that will have at least five new members.
Ginsburg, of North Bethesda, serves as executive director of the Friends of White Flint, and this is her first attempt at running for public office.
In interviews, she has touted her success in making North Bethesda a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly area as new development has popped up and the population has grown.
But she’s also been critical of the county’s efforts at economic development in recent years, noting that many younger residents can’t find jobs close to where they live in the county. There needs to be a greater review of the county’s regulatory and licensing processes to attract small and medium-sized businesses, along with larger companies, she said.
Ultimately, the county takes a lot of time studying possible solutions to its problems — like bus rapid transit for transportation, for example — without taking any immediate action to fix issues, she said. Immediate solutions could include adding more separated bike lanes, increasing express bus service and other quick actions that could relieve congestion, Ginsburg said.
Murtha, of North Bethesda, and a law student at George Washington University, says he understands his long odds for election as a younger candidate in a crowded field.
Still, he’s focused on issues like increasing the level of affordable housing and economic development. He’s also concerned that the county has not moved fast enough on transportation issues and proposed solutions — and notes that by the time that related studies are completed, they may no longer reflect the reality of what is needed in Montgomery County.
The community engagement process for Thrive Montgomery 2050 — the county’s proposed update to its general master plan — has not been robust enough, Murtha said. He’s concerned about how the plan might displace communities of low-income residents.
He’s also interested in investing more money into preventative health care, especially for lower-income communities. Murtha, who works as a volunteer EMT, said he sees the cost of the government not providing such services whenever he serves in that role.
Stewart, who lives in Takoma Park and has been the city’s mayor since 2015, has particularly focused on affordable housing during her campaign.
She has said it’s important not only to encourage the construction of more housing, but also to preserve older buildings so that they stay affordable, along with implementing rent stabilization and other similar policies. Takoma Park is the only municipality in the county with a rent stabilization law.
Stewart said the county did not do a good job of informing renters countywide at the start of the coronavirus pandemic about whether it was safe to be in public spaces — like the elevator or the laundry room, for example.
She also has touted her work with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and with other local mayors and the state District 20 delegation in ensuring tenants’ rights, implement policies supporting clean energy, and helping school principals navigate the pandemic.
Zittrauer, a Silver Spring resident and bartender at Denizens Brewing Co., has been frank about his campaign and what it would mean if he were elected. He’s said multiple times on the campaign trail that he’s lived on tight budgets, and that his career in the service industry would provide a perspective different from that of current council members.
In interviews, Zittrauer has said that county officials need to do more to help the homeless population. He believes part of the solution includes creating housing policies that help renters, such as those pertaining to moderately priced dwelling units and social housing. Helping the homeless also requires that elected officials and local health experts consider whether to establish a safe injection site in the county for people addicted to dangerous substances, he said.
Like Murtha, Zittrauer said better public outreach was needed for Thrive Montgomery 2050. Instead of using conventional methods of outreach, more could have been done to meet community members where they are, he said.
He also believes that the county needs better transit options that can connect the upcounty and the downcounty.