Montgomery County needs an executive who can tackle big problems

When Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich took office in 2018, he promised a new era of progressive leadership. He hasn’t arrived, and his records suggest he’s not coming. It’s time for a change.

We are at an uncertain moment. Leading a county during the COVID-19 pandemic would challenge the most nimble and open-minded elected officials, but Montgomery County still has big problems that demand bold decisions.

We have an housing shortagea stagnant economyand growing racial inequalities. In each case, Elrich did not take up the challenge.

Elrich struggled to build relationships with other county chiefs during the pandemic, and back his allies even when they are in class unreasonable (Testimony of Thrive Montgomery 2050, pages 12, 13).

Since being elected to the county council in 2006, Elrich has been more comfortable saying no – including several times when the rest of the council has said “yes”. It is worse than ineffective leadership; it is not leadership at all.

The result is an administration that fails to make tough decisions.

Nothing can be more evident than his lack of leadership during the pandemic.

Elrich has placed mask mandates on private businesses in the county while refusing to require vaccinations for county employees, which is crucial to ending the pandemic. He said he supports a vaccination mandate for all county employeesbut when unions expressed the slightest refusal, he backed away quickly and changed his mind.

Elrich promise to be a champion for the less fortunate. While rising house prices have benefited wealthier residents, the higher cost of living here, combined with a struggling economy, has burdened everyone, especially black and brown residents, whose median income is 60% white residents of Montgomery County (2019 Legislative Oversight Office Report, p. 18).

Elrich says he cares about racial equity, and in December 2019 he sign the law that requires the “executive to adopt…a racial equity and social justice action plan for the county” (p. 1, #4). Not until October 2021, three months after tough advice note went to county executive, were proposed settlement submitted. As of February 2022, there was no final settlement for the law.

Elrich says he supports affordable housing, but has discouraged from building houses. This contributes significantly to building Montgomery County fewer houses than in previous decades, which means higher house prices and rents for everyone. Yet Elrich refused to act.

He has sought to reduce (p. 1, Key CE Changes From FY19) county affordable housing trust funding. County council members proposed solutions that would build new homes and provide more affordable housing, which he tried to block.

Elrich disagrees with recent studies showing that the construction of housing at market price contributes to overall affordability. In January, he said building homes at market price was an absurd approach, calling it a a “Reagan runoff solution from the Koch brothers(at 29:55). This approach of demonizing opposing viewpoints fuels voters’ worst instincts and destroys any potential for compromise.

Elrich promised to support economic development, but he undermined the county’s efforts to promote investment in East County and sent negative posts to those who would like to do business here. His signature proposal, a White Flint life sciences campus with a major college presence, hasn’t progressed in four years, with the landowner examination if Elrich’s idea is even feasible.

Even before the pandemic, employment in the county was flat or falling in key sectors.

A group of six people – Liz Brent, Gray Kimbrough, Abe Saffer, Eric Saul and us – firmly believe that informed voters are our best hope for change. It is essential that we share the facts about the Elrich administration as widely as possible before the June primary. That’s why we created a website to tell the truth about the county executive’s record.

We support different candidates, and some of us even voted for Elrich in the last election. But we can all agree that Marc Elrich does not deserve another term as our county executive. He made big promises, but was an ineffectual leader on the most important issues.

Dan Reed lives in Silver Springs. Carter Dougherty lives in Takoma Park.

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