Responses to King Farm Chronicle Questionnaire
July 28, 2007
PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES THAT QUALIFY YOU TO BE MAYOR OF ROCKVILLE?
I have lived in Montgomery County for more than 45 years and have resided in Rockville for 12 of the past 20 years. In 1992, I established a successful telecommunications firm, which serves domestic, international and multinational clients. I have been the Executive Director of the all-volunteer, citizen watchdog group, Neighbors for a Better Montgomery (www.NeighborsPAC.org) for nearly five years. Neighbors was very active in the 2006 County elections. Neighbors conducted and released comprehensive studies regarding Montgomery County’s infrastructure deficit (roads in gridlock, overcrowded schools, stressed emergency services), affordable housing and impact taxes as well as detailed information about possible undue influence of campaign contributions from the development industry. This information spearheaded a sea change in Montgomery County politics, ushering in a new era of citizen-accountable elected officials, who took little or no campaign contributions from developers. According to Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett, “[Drew Powell and Neighbors for a Better Montgomery] made it easier for the average citizen to understand. That helped create the atmosphere that I think led voters to make the decisions they made” (February 11, 2007, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/10/AR2007021001280.html).
WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM YOUR OPPONENT?
Rockville is at a crossroads. I believe that Rockville’s growth must be managed. Out-of-control overdevelopment is responsible for gridlock on our streets, damage to our environment and a decrease in our quality of life. Worst yet, much of this development is subsidized with Rockville City taxpayer dollars. In 2005, my opponent received nearly half of all her campaign contributions from development related special interests. As many voters have commented, this, coupled with her voting record, may convey the appearance of impropriety. I will accept no donations from the development industry.
In my role as Executive Director of Neighbors for a Better Montgomery, I formed excellent relations with many state, county and municipal leaders. This is essential when advocating on behalf of Rockville.
Most importantly, I believe that local government must be open, accountable and transparent to citizens. After all, this is your government paid for with your tax dollars. It’s time citizens have a place at the table not just special interests. My record on these principals is considerable and longstanding. Giving citizens a voice and reducing the influence of special interests in local government has been my goal and is a core value. Conversely, in a recent vote, my opponent went so far as to vote against a public hearing. We need to hear more from Rockville’s residents, not less. Rockville needs leadership that listens.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FACING ROCKVILLE AND ITS RESIDENTS AND WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO DEAL WITH THOSE ISSUES?
The issues of out-of-control growth, indulgent city spending and the environment are paramount to Rockville’s residents. As we move forward in the re-development of our great city, we must be cognizant of development’s impacts on infrastructure, city taxes and quality of life. Development, such as Town Center, should move forward with adequate road capacity, minimal negative impact on taxpayers and enhancement of our quality of life. When development does not meet these criteria it should not be approved, especially if it only benefits narrow special interests.
City government must learn to live within its means. City spending and taxes have doubled in the last five years. It will be my job as your mayor to hold the line on spending. We can craft fiscal policies that use our money wisely and for everyone’s benefit.
Due in part to overdevelopment, Rockville is currently suffering a 5,000 tree deficit. City government must commit to protecting Rockville’s unique tree canopy and its remaining green space. City government must embrace cutting edge solutions in green building technologies and commit to finding new public use space in Rockville. King Farm has a unique opportunity with the Mattie Stepanek Park to create something better than the usual austere city park – I hope we can invest more in the landscaping and planning of Mattie Stepanek Park and in all Rockville parks to meet the needs of all our residents.
RESIDENTS OF KING FARM ARE PARTICULARLY CONCERNED BECAUSE THE COMMUNITY IS SPLIT BETWEEN TWO SCHOOL CLUSTERS – ONE SIDE OF THE COMMUNITY ATTENDS SCHOOLS IN THE GAITHERSBURG HIGH SCHOOL CLUSTER AND THE OTHER ATTENDS THE RICHARD MONTGOMERY HIGH SCHOOL CLUSTER. WHILE THE DISTRICTING IS A COUNTY ISSUE, WOULD YOU AS MAYOR SUPPORT UNITING THE COMMUNITY INTO ONE SCHOOL CLUSTER IN ROCKVILLE AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO HELP THAT HAPPEN?
Rockville is a city of neighborhoods, and one of a neighborhood’s strongest unifying forces is its relationship with its schools. It is unacceptable that King Farm children, residents of Rockville, attend schools outside of Rockville. Leveraging my excellent relationships with county officials, I will support and strongly advocate for the uniting of the King Farm community relating to school districting.
KING FARM RESIDENTS ARE ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT DEVELOPER COMMERCIAL OFFICE PROPERTIES TRUST’S PLANS TO CUT DOWN OLD-GROWTH TREES THAT BORDER OUR COMMUNITY IN THE ROCKVILLE CORPORATE CENTER. DO YOU HAVE A POSITION ON THIS ISSUE? AS MAYOR, HOW WOULD YOU PLAN TO BALANCE CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT?
This is a good example of development that may not serve the needs of the Rockville community and was approved under rules that favored developer interests over citizen interests. We need to always ask, does this development enhance our quality of life? Will it further exacerbate gridlock (on 355 and Gude Drive)? Does it fit in with the surrounding community? I support the city’s legal efforts to help persuade the developer to minimize its impact on the tree canopy by not constructing a large surface parking lot. The city’s new forestation ordinance may help in preventing situations like this in the future. Developers have well paid advocates promoting their agendas. We need to take back control of our zoning and development authority. It’s time that citizens’ interests come first. For more information please visit www.VotePOWELL.org. ■