After a term-limit referendum passed in November keeping County Council members to three consecutive terms, a new crop of candidates have filed to run for County Council.
With three of the four of the atlarge Council members – George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen and Marc Elrich – term limited, new candidates have declared their candidacy to fill the soon-to-be vacant seats for the June 2018 primary.
Brandy H.M. Brooks (Democrat)
Brooks, a progressive activist and organizer, said she is running for County Council At-Large after talking to people in her community. Brooks, originally from Massachusetts and a member of the political advocacy group Progressive Maryland, said her campaign is focused on “social justice” to bring more equity to the County’s racial minority groups.
Brooks mentioned the academic achievement gap as one of her main issues, saying the County is racially and economically segregated, meaning poorer kids are stuck in the County’s lower performing schools.
“We experience a tremendous amount of segregation with race and class,” she said.
Brooks said she plans to fix this by changing where the County puts its affordable housing units, which she said are mostly located in the East County and in urban centers. Brooks said she wants to up the County’s requirement for developers to make 12.5 to 15 percent of their units affordable and she wants affordable housing units to be more widely distributed geographically through the County.
“Affordable housing tends to be concentrated more in East County or in certain urban pockets,” she said.
On transportation, Brooks said she favors support for mass transit over roads, saying she supports the County’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit projects on U.S. Route-29, State Route 355 and Viers Mill Road, along with finding a dedicated funding source for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
“I want there to be in more sustainable transportation options that don't foster us just driving around the county more,” she said.
Unlike current Council members, Brooks said she is open to the idea of another bridge over the Potomac River that would connect the County to Loudoun County, Virginia, saying she has yet to make up her mind on the issue.
Hoan Dang (Democrat)
Dang, an engineer and business analyst, bills himself as a problem solver who can provide an analytical eye to the County Council.
“I think most of County Council members understand what needs to be done and I think for me it’s just a matter of, you know, of doing what practical,” he said.
Dang, a Vietnam War refugee who grew up in Bethesda, said he is worried about the lack of affordable housing in the County and said he wants to increase the County’s requirement that developers make 12.5 to 15 percent of their units in new residential buildings affordable. Dang said he is also worried about rezoning initiatives that could mean the lost of existing affordable housing in the County.
“If you rezone a certain area then the current stock of affordable housing in that area is at risk of being gentrified,” he said.
Dang also said traffic congestion is a major issue, saying he would support a dedicated funding source for WMATA and the County’s BRT proposals. Dang, like all nine current Council members, is against another crossing over the Potomac River because it would damage the County’s agriculture reserve and promote urban sprawl.
“We're trying to keep the development close to the transit centers,” he said.
If elected, Dang said he wants to find a way to encourage companies to allow more of their employees to telecommute, saying on he noticed his commute to work on Fridays has been reduced given it is the most popular day to telecommute to work.
“Legislation is an option but I think it's really more of a cultural change a lot of companies are just not comfortable to have teleworking,” he said.
Brooks and Hoan join fellow democrats Ron Colbert, Richard Gottfried, Danielle Meitiv, Hans Riemer and Neil Greenberger who are running for County Council At Large. Green Party candidate Tim Willard is also running for County Council At-Large.