In a speech to volunteers on Wednesday in North Bethesda, former three-term Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan highlighted two issues he’ll focus on in his attempt to get his old job back.
Duncan spoke about getting more state funding for school construction, citing the county’s growing school system, and using an “all of the above” approach to fixing the county’s transportation infrastructure that includes adding more transit, hiker-biker trails and road lanes.
Duncan, whose campaign is using the slogan “Make Montgomery Work,” said he will release a package of specific policy proposals as the race moves on.
County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) recently announced he will be seeking a third term, setting up a showdown between the two men who have held Montgomery’s top political position for the past 19 years.
Some don’t think it will be much of a race. At-large Councilmembers Nancy Floreen and George Leventhal, who were elected to the Council in 2002 on Duncan’s “End Gridlock” slate, told Bethesda Magazine they think Leggett will win easily.
“If Doug thinks there is a big constituency out there that doesn’t like Ike Leggett, I guess we’ll find out. But I think he’s wrong,” Leventhal told the Magazine.
“As far as I’m concerned, Ike owns the job as long as he wants it. I don’t think there’s going to be much of a race,” Floreen said.
Duncan on Wednesday said he doesn’t believe that’s the case.
“What struck me was these were the same people who said Rob Garagiola was going to be the next congressman in the 6th District. And it’s not, it’s John Delaney. So I don’t place too much stock in what the insiders say at this point,” Duncan said.
Notably, Delaney has already endorsed Duncan in the race. The Primary is next June.
About 40 volunteers gathered for coffee and breakfast before Duncan spoke.
“I’m very pleased with where we’re at. I’m getting a good response from people in the county,” Duncan said. “There’s a lot of people enthusiastic about this race so I’m very excited about becoming the next county executive.”
Duncan said getting Maryland to “be more of a partner” is the first step in building more classrooms for a growing school population he said was nearing a crisis situation. He said the state, county government and school system needs to make a multi-year commitment for school construction dollars.
He also said the county should pursue a broader transportation policy that includes building more road lanes, even while studying and building transit systems such as the Purple Line.
“As wonderful as that is and as needed as they are, we can not solely rely on those to ease our traffic woes,” Duncan said. “We need more of all of the above.”
Duncan proposed public-private partnerships similar to the HOT lane project on the Virginia side of the Beltway.
He also referenced his role as county executive in the redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring and the building of the Music Center at Strathmore.
But one didn’t need to go far to find examples of Duncan’s past. A plaque at the entrance to the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, where the event was held, includes his name. The facility opened in 2004, with $40 million in funding from the county and state.
“We’ve done it here before,” Duncan told supporters. “We can do it here again.”