Since last week, two additional candidates filed their paper to run for two County Council seats that will be open in 2018.
That brings the total number of people who have filed to run for the open council seats to 22. The addition of a term limit referendum created four new open seats on the County Council for the 2018 election.
Meredith Wellington (District-1)
Wellington, a Democrat, and former member of the County Planning Board, said she got her start in politics when her son needed a place to play baseball. She said she and others helped lobby to the County to build what would become the Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase.Wellington is originally from Texas, but has lived in the County since 1978. Wellington served on the Planning Board for eight years from 1999 to 2007, the Montgomery County Park Foundation and has worked as a lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board.
Wellington said the community center is an example of the type of development she wants in the County, where the County encourages developers to make voluntary contributions to the surrounding community by helping to pay for land for parks, school or traffic infrastructure.
“I firmly believe that developers should make more in-kind donations to improve amenities,” Wellington said.
On transit, Wellington said she supports funding for Metro and Ride On Extra, but said the County should look at expanding or widening roads. Wellington said much of District 1 is not close to a Metro stop and she believes the County should widen roads in order to accommodate more cars and buses.
“So we have a network of roads that are suitable for buses,” Wellington said. “If we need to expand roads, widen roads, we should do that and that will also benefit cars.”
On economic development, Wellington said the County should be more aggressive in how it tries to attract businesses to relocate here, saying the County should have representatives around the world that market on behalf of the County.
“We are a premium location for science and we need to spread that word and develop ourselves more as science center,” she said.
On the environment, Wellington said she would like to see improvements in storm water management in the county. She wants to close a loophole for single-family homes and advocate for a greener, plant-based, approach to be used in storm water management.
Ashwani Jain (At-large)
County native and a Democrat, Jain said he got his first foray into politics when he was asked in high school by then-Senator Barack Obama’s campaign for president to volunteer. Jain, a cancer survivor who said for much of his life he felt powerless, said politics gave him empowerment and a sense of purpose. Jain worked campaigning for Obama much of his life until he was hired to work at the White House.
Jain, 28, said the issues of the County, affordable housing, schools, traffic and inclusion are related and that the County’s solutions to problems should be multi-dimensional.
“For me all those issues are interconnected end the best way we can close the opportunity gap is to address all those issues in a comprehensive way,” Jain said.
Jain said the County should pass a “Community Trust” ordinance to declare the County as a sanctuary jurisdiction.
Sanctuary jurisdiction is a loosely-defined term for cities and counties that prevent their local officials from assisting with enforcement of immigration law. County officials have said that Montgomery County is not a sanctuary county, and cooperates with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “serious criminals.”
However, Jain said he believes Montgomery County is a sanctuary jurisdiction.
“Given the fact we already operate as a sanctuary jurisdiction we just need the political will to declare it as such,” Jain said.
On education, Jain said he supports universal pre-kindergarten, saying it would cut the opportunity gap for the County’s African-American and Latino students. Jain said he also supports increasing the County’s minimum wage to $15 per hour saying the County needs a “living wage.”
Jain also said the County is losing technology start-ups and said he supports incentives, including tax incentives, to keep entrepreneurs in the County.
“We got to make sure if you are starting a business or you have a business that you are able to keep that business,” Jain said.