Issues

When I am elected to the County Council, my top priority will be to ensure that Montgomery County is the best liveable community in the Country. This includes focusing on quality of life, aging in place, the environment, social and economic equity, public safety, education, transportation and economic development. This does not include all of the issues facing those who live and work in Montgomery County but is an alphabetic sampling of some of the most important. Please feel free to contact me with comments and questions – sidney@sidneykatz.com. I welcome your input!

Diversity

Montgomery County is one of the most diverse communities in the nation and we all benefit from this diversity. That said, we need to continue to work together to promote diversity, tolerance and end racism.

I am presently Mayor of Gaithersburg. Through my civic leadership, I was involved in creating the Multi-Cultural Affairs Committee for Gaithersburg and served on it for many years.  This is a committee where persons of different cultures come together to learn from each other.  We need to follow through with establishing committees such as this on the County-level. We need to work with community groups, nonprofits and others of different cultural backgrounds and perspectives to help advise the County Council and the County on legislation and our laws so that our government is more responsive.

We need to continue to enjoy each other’s customs and cultures and need to work together to solve our concerns. Knowledge is the best way to undermine ignorance.

Economic Development

Montgomery County is and should continue to be a place where businesses want to be located. Business is the economic engine of our region and we need to work together to ensure that the I-270 biotech corridor remains strong, that jobs are both created here and brought here. We also need to do more to support projects such as telework centers for telecommuters.  Montgomery County has a tremendous amount of resources and working together we can keep moving Montgomery County forward.

Education

I attended Montgomery County schools growing up. My wife, Sally is a Pupil Personnel Worker for Montgomery County Public Schools, and our daughters attended public schools here. I understand the challenges of our education system.  We can and must work together to make sure that our schools are meeting the needs of all of our students including:

  • Universal access to Pre-K education;
  • Closing the achievement gap;
  • Increasing Junior Achievement Programs;
  • Easing the transition of common core curriculum;
  • Bridging the digital divide by increasing our technology resources and through targeted broadband adoption programs;
  • Working quickly to address the issue of overcrowded schools and fighting for Montgomery County’s share of school construction money in Annapolis

Environment

We must be certain we do not take our natural and environmental resources for granted.  Whether it is safeguarding our drinking water, reducing pollution or protecting our food supply, the earth needs to be appreciated and the way we show our appreciation is by protecting it.

We also have a duty and an obligation to tackle these environmental issues head–on in Montgomery County. It is nearly impossible to select the most pressing need because so many need to be addressed including deforestation, renewable energy, clean air and clean water. However, Montgomery County can and should do more to reduce carbon emission and carbon footprint.

In 2009, Montgomery County published a Climate Protection Plan prepared by the Montgomery County Working Sustainability Group. A starting point is to conduct a review of this plan to measure progress both in the private and public sector. Once a review is complete, we can discuss whether we need additional legislative solutions in order for the County to achieve its goals. We must do more to address the carbon footprint of government offices and installations. We cannot wait – we must act now. 

Helping Those in Need

We have a duty and an obligation to help those in need including those who are struggling to pay their bills. Economic inequity is a tremendous problem that must be tackled head on.  This is an issue that disparately impacts single mothers. Raising the minimum wage is a good first start, however, there is more that needs to be done including increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor.

Additionally, there are many programs that are offered throughout Montgomery County both through the non-profit community and government programs.  However, we must do more to help residents navigate the waters and make certain that someone who is in need is aware of the programs and resources around them.  When I am elected to the County Council, I will focus efforts on economic development in and around transit centers, increasing affordable housing availability, and working with community groups to help provide needed social services in the County. Job training and workforce development is another area that we need to greatly expand.  Finally, we need to have more ways to provide affordable and quality child care for all families that need it.

Reproductive Rights

Reproductive Rights are fundamental. As the father of 2 daughters, I have always believed in a woman’s right to choose and when I am elected to the Council, I will work to see that reproductive rights are not abridged in Montgomery County.

The County Budget

As the current Mayor and former Councilmember of the City of Gaithersburg, I have worked closely with municipal budgets since 1978.  During that time, we raised the tax rate only once in 40 plus years and I am proud to say we are debt free.  The Montgomery County budget is critically important. We must ensure that the budget contains sufficient funding for education and our schools, public safety, social programs, and government operations to name a few areas. Budgets are the most important function of any government and must be thoroughly evaluated before making any decisions. The County must spend its resources wisely and increase efficiency within government operations. Additionally, the County should hire an inspector general for the school system and undertake management audits of the school and county portions of the budget. Overall, I believe that the complete evaluation of the County requires the input of the community and I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Transportation:

Transportation is a priority because in so many ways, traffic, congestion and commuting has defined our community. We must approach our transportation planning and priorities on a regional level and work with our surrounding jurisdictions. We also must push for more mass transit options including the Purple Line, Corridor City Transitway, Bus Rapid Transit and dedicated bus lanes. With so many of our residents relying on metro on a daily basis it is imperative that we work with WMATA to improve on metro and make sure that it is safe and reliable.  I also believe that we should establish telework centers and provide more options for our residents to telework and reduce commuting.

As a County, we need to improve our cross-county traffic problems in addition to alleviating the burden for those commuting into the District of Columbia.  One of the areas I will work on if elected is to develop a more efficient handling of how our traffic signals work.  Too often we find ourselves driving through one light only to be stopped at the next one.  Vehicles that are stalled in traffic are not helpful to anyone as they are bad for the environment, cost us too much time and detract from our quality of life.