What do the at-large candidates think about ensuring the economic vitality of the White Flint/Pike District area?

What do the at-large candidates think about ensuring the economic vitality of the White Flint/Pike District area?

Last week we have embarked on a project to share with you the answers to the questionnaire we gave to the at-large council seat candidates. This week we continue this series so we can provide voters with the information they need to make an informed choice. The June 26th primary is a critical one for Montgomery County, and there are four at-large County Council seats up for grabs.  There are more than three dozen candidates vying for your vote. We  hope their responses help you to be a more educated voter.

Today we share the responses to our question, “You have many responsibilities as a councilmember. How do you prioritize your responsibility to be a booster for White Flint’s economic future? What do you see as your top three responsibilities to ensure the economic vitality of the Pike District/White Flint area? (Please note that we’ll change the random order of the responses for each question.)

Hans Reimer

My vision for the future of White Flint is essential to my vision for the future of Montgomery County: a dynamic metropolitan region at the cutting edge of education, transportation and the knowledge economy, offering contemporary urban lifestyles and inclusive suburbs, with the foresight to create opportunity for those not born with life’s advantages. My top responsibilities to ensure the success of White Flint include: 1. Following through on the vision of the Master Plan and the infrastructure to make it succeed,  2. Improving economic development to realize the potential of commercial occupancy, 3. Placemaking to promote vibrancy and make White Flint a people-centered community.

Paul Geller

As a Councilmember, being a booster for both our residents and our businesses will always be a top priority.  White Flint is a diamond in need of some polishing.  This incredible neighborhood sits at the gateway from Bethesda/NIH/Walter Reed to the heart of Rockville.  We must pay close attention to making sure the area is redeveloped in such a way that all of us in the community can be proud of it.  The top three priorities, as I see it, for ensuring the economic vitality of PD/WF area are: 1) Working with our new County Executive, my eight colleagues (at the very least the five representing this area), the Economic Development Corporation, the community and interested businesses/organizations (like the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, whom I know well) to make sure we achieve the best possible mix of housing, business, recreation, and needed amenities for the community; 2) Making sure the infrastructure is in place early on so the community gets off to a great start.  This includes advance planning for water, electricity, schools, emergency services, sewer, improved Metro access,…; 3) Making sure this area has something unique to become a draw to residents and businesses.  This could include a model walkable community, unique artistic elements, boutique shops, fine restaurants, outstanding businesses,…

Neil Greenberger

The White Flint area within a decade will be the top new business/residential/urbanized community in Montgomery County, and one of the most recognized in the Washington region. This will only occur, however, if it develops as a united community and not just a bunch of independent projects that just happen to be within a couple of miles within each other.  I would like to see the County (Executive and Council together) create a strong advisory group of experienced people and community members that will guide the development of the new White Flint.  The group will have authority to make recommendations IN ADVANCE of many projects because making recommendations after the fact will create a White Flint that none of us want to see.  The key to developing White Flint will be to consider those who already live there and have helped build White Flint as residents over the decades with the new businesses and residents that will be part of the evolving community’s future.  Although businesses usually lease to those that can pay the rent, this group can provide guidance to what the community needs and wants.

Bill Conway

As a council member my responsibility will be to think of the needs of the County as a whole, and one thing the County badly needs is economic growth.  Our needs for services are far outstripping our projected revenues.  Job growth (and attendant taxes) are the only realistic way to bridge the gap.  I strongly support the template for the future embodied in the two White Flint sector plans because the plans will ensure that White Flint becomes a well-conceived vehicle for economic growth.  In that respect I see my top three responsibilities as: (i) ensuring that the County makes the necessary infrastructure investments contemplated by the sector plans, (ii) supporting adjustments to the plans as necessary to accomplish their overall vision, and (iii) helping to mediate conflicts among stakeholders (residents, businesses and landlords) as they inevitably arise.

Seth Grimes

I am running for an at-large seat on the county council. I take seriously the responsibility to represent every county geographic area and every county constituency, as an advocate and booster. I will ensure the economic vitality of the Pike District/White Flint area by 1) making sure that the Montgomery County and the State of Maryland invest adequately in transportation, schools, and amenities; 2) providing financing and incentives to area businesses for expansion, environmental steps, and workforce investment; and 3) addressing key affordability challenges: housing, childcare, and transportation.

Jill Ourtman-Fouse

White Flint is an essential part of the county’s economic competitiveness strategy because it is one of the most attractive places for large and small employers looking for a transit-served location with urban amenities without the sky-high rents of DC or other center cities. Bethesda is doing well, and Silver Spring can do better, but in the near term White Flint is among our best hopes for drawing top-flight employers and their workers to Montgomery County. My top responsibilities would be 1) Ensure effective and efficient public transit, vehicle, pedestrian and bike access, 2) Deliver economic opportunity with high-wage, attractive jobs, 3) Ensure development and amenities are responsive to community wants and needs, identified in partnership with stakeholders. I’m concerned not only about the fact that debt service is consuming a higher and higher proportion of county revenue but also the fact that as Baby Boomers age out of the workforce  we will have a smaller proportion of our adult population in their top earning years. This means we need to strengthen our economic competitiveness and attract more high-wage jobs to maintain a tax base that can support and build on the services and infrastructure we have come to expect. I do not believe that keeping reserves at current levels poses any immediate threat to our bond ratings, and I think it is often wise to borrow money to pay for long-term investments in infrastructure such as transit, schools and roads (especially when interest rates are low). I would be cautious, however, about any further reduction in reserve levels.

Gabe Albornoz

The Pike District/White Flint is one of the premiere urban hubs in our County. Its location along the Red Line means that it will be focus of future growth and will be a vital part of the County’s tax base. As a Councilmember, the Pike District will be a priority of mine as it will be one of the strongest links in our future economic development. To ensure that the Pike District grows, I will place a high priority on funding its infrastructure and ensuring that the Master Plan vision is achieved.

Will Jawando

My top three priorities would be: Smarter Land-Use Planning with an eye toward public transportation is far-reaching, fast and reliable. We also have to  we are maintaining our quality of life and sense of place as we develop White Flint, and write policies that encourage affordable housing. Workforce Development with a revamping of our MCPS programs for career and technical training. Today and tomorrow’s technical careers are well-paying jobs that we can prepare our kids for (and help our local employers with) by improving outreach and recruitment to our Thomas Edison Technical School, with a tie-in to Montgomery College. This is particularly true for our kids interested in STEM and bio-tech careers, which don’t need four-year degrees to begin but can get started with a certification, apprenticeship or two-year degree. Focus on Small Business Even as we woo major employers like Amazon — and other major tech companies to replace Discovery — we must make sure we are nurturing organic growth of our small businesses. Too many would-be business operators face challenges that we could make simpler. Here in Montgomery County, I believe it is possible for us to be “open for business” without sacrificing any standards for health, public safety or tax revenue.

Ashwani Jain

My family started their business in Montgomery County. From them, I’ve learned the importance of investing in employees and creating a culture where everyone works together to strengthen the local economy. As such, I believe we must support our small and medium sized businesses and attract more to move and stay in White Flint and Montgomery County. We can accomplish this by: (1) Supporting additional job training programs and workforce development programs – like those provided by Worksource Montgomery and Montgomery College; (2) Creating more Enterprise Zones and streamlining the license and permit process; and (3) Implementing Master Plans that support smart growth and create a comprehensive transportation infrastructure plan.

Steve Solomon

I’ve lived and worked most of my life in the Silver Spring-Bethesda-Rockville area, so I’m very familiar with the White Flint community.   White Flint has been economically vital even without me on the council.  I would   1)   Continue to follow the White Flint sector plan and consult with the community to ensure each step is what’s best for the community,  2)  Continue to make Pike + Rose one of the premier new areas in the county – both to live and shop, 3)   The future of BRT on 355

Robert Dyer

My top 3 responsibilities are to fund and deliver the infrastructure required in the White Flint 1/2 sector plans, create a business climate that will make the Pike District actually competitive with Tysons in attracting corporate HQs, and to ensure we are producing the workforce that international companies are looking for. One other thing is to lead the effort to build a new Potomac River crossing to Dulles, which we need to give current and future Pike District businesses the same advantage Northern Virginia has.

Melissa McKenna

Implementation of the White Flint Sector Plans will determine the area’s economic future and long-term success. Sector plans provide a road map that the particular projects fill in and must be done carefully, so the top priority will be individual project consideration during the plan approval process. Keeping traffic moving on Rt 355 will be paramount and I would tackle through better traffic signal timing and BRT. Variety and diversity of business and residential options are another way to maximize the area’s economic potential.

Marilyn Balcombe

While each geographic sector has particular needs, having a strong, robust economy is crucial for the success of the entire County. We cannot continue to provide the current level of service without expanding our tax base by increasing the number of high paying jobs in the County. My priorities would include the full funding of the economic and workforce development initiatives to attract and retain businesses to the County, as well as make sure we have the talent pool to attract those business. We must also reclaim Montgomery County’s preeminence in the BioTech Industry by provided incentives to the industry. We also need to foster a climate where entrepreneurs can create, thrive, and scale their businesses here in Montgomery County. As for White Flint, the County has made a significant investment in this area and as a County Council member I would want to make sure that the White Flint Master Plan is developed according to the plan. This would include having a strong commercial base as part of the overall success of White Flint.

Hoan Dang

My top three priorities would be J-E-T: Jobs, Education, Transportation. Regarding Jobs, I would work to create more good pay jobs for our workforce by collaborating with the Economic Development Corporation and small businesses to determine how we can make the County more “business friendly” so we can attract, retain and grow businesses in the County. Regarding Education, I would work to provide better educational opportunities for our students by: ensuring that Universal Pre-K becomes a reality; increasing vocational/technical programs at MCPS; and ensuring that our students have a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). Regarding Transportation, I would work to provide better transportation options for our residents by: adding reversible toll lanes and bus-rapid transit (BRT) capacity to I-270 from the Beltway into Frederick County; and adopting a multi-modal transportation approach including innovative bus-rapid transit systems in key corridors, and other master-planned road, transit, bike, intersection and pedestrian improvements. My J-E-T priorities will ensure the economic vitality of Montgomery County including the Pike District/White Flint area.

Richard Gottfried

Again, I am representing the whole County as an At-Large Councilmember. My first priority would be to create a new zoning ordinance called MPBU(moderately priced business units) in our commercial buildings, so that, our home-based businesses can afford to move to a commercial office building. As the home-based business revenue grows, so does their rent, proportionately to revenue growth. I would create a Small Business Tax Relief program. For each additional employee benefit provided to employees, the government would provide a tax credit to enhance economic growth.

Evan Glass

Montgomery County has a lot of needs – particularly the need to improve our schools and create a more robust transportation infrastructure. In order to pay for these additional services, we need to focus on increasing the size of our tax base – which is why White Flint’s economic future is extremely important to the county. As the county continues to grow, the its future will be inextricably tied to White Flint’s success. For this reason, we must ensure that White Flint succeeds.

Rosemary Arkoian

I’d speak with the residents and businesses in the White Flint area and see what they want.  Then my staff and I would research the matter and come up with a fair and commonsense answer.

Michele Riley

I will be the councilmember who has a constant focus on economic growth. My top three responsibilities in terms of economic growth are: 1) implementing the recommendations in the Countywide Comprehensive Economic Survey, 2) undertaking a study of regulations at the county level to ascertain whether we need to revamp or eliminate certain regulations, just as the Augustine Commission did at the state level several years ago, and 3) working to conduct a capital raise for the MCEDC, which is still in its infancy, so that the Commission can thrive and generate jobs to build up our tax base. By taking these actions, we can help the county survive, from a budgetary perspective, the pressing demographic challenge of baby boomers retiring in large numbers from the workforce.These three responsibilities, if accomplished, would ensure the economic vitality of the Pike District/White Flint area as well as other business districts in our county

Amy Ginsburg


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *