Next up is George Leventhal, running for one of four Democratic nominations in the County Council at-large race. Below is Leventhal’s unedited response:
I first moved to Montgomery County with my parents in 1964. I have lived here for 42 years and my wife Soraia and I have lived in Takoma Park for more than 25 years. We have raised two boys, both of whom attended our excellent public schools.
Since I was first elected in 2002, I have brought passion, honesty and integrity to the County Council. I work hard, and I respond quickly to our constituents’ needs. I am an effective leader, and I get things done.
As Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, I advocate for those who need the most help from government: the sick, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, the mentally ill, and abused and abandoned children. County Executive Leggett recently called me “a warrior against poverty” for my efforts to assist county residents who most need help from government.
One of my signature accomplishments, Montgomery Cares, is a network of physicians and clinics that serve uninsured or underinsured residents. In this year alone, Montgomery Cares will ensure that 31,000 people who would not otherwise have access to care, will see a primary care doctor. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the expansion of Medicaid, and Montgomery Cares, the residents of Montgomery County will finally achieve universal health care coverage in my next term on the council.
The Housing First program provides permanent, stable housing and support services to homeless individuals and it is another accomplishment of which I am proud. For the first time since the county began counting, our homeless population dropped below 900 in January, 2014. We have made great strides in helping this very needy population come in from outside and repair their damaged lives.
To protect the environment and grow green jobs, I co-founded Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership that provides a living model of sustainability and a community-wide environmental ethic. Bethesda Green is the first green business incubator in the State of Maryland and provides support for small start-ups that could otherwise not afford their own space. Most of the funding has come from the private sector, leveraging very small investments of taxpayer dollars.
I’m proud of these programs and accomplishments, but we still have more to do. To continue to provide important social services, we must attract new jobs and investment to expand our revenue base. As a member of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, I want to continue the Council’s work promoting smart growth development, updating master plans for our modern society and attracting jobs. I understand the importance of attractive and creative planning to ensure cosmopolitan communities that provide desirable amenities, including schools, parks, trails, libraries, community and recreation centers and shopping.
The most important thing we can do to keep our economy competitive is build the promised mass transit improvements: Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transitway and Bus Rapid Transit on key corridors. I helped to found Purple Line Now!, an advocacy group that has played a major role in coalescing public support for this needed transitway and persuading Governor O’Malley to select the master plan alignment as Maryland’s locally preferred alternative. I worked closely with the Montgomery County Delegation to ensure passage of the Maryland State Gas Tax in the last session which guarantees funding for many of our transportation priorities.
We must also maintain the high quality of our K-12 education system and continue to invest in Montgomery College for workforce development. Education has always been the Council’s top budget priority and it will continue to be. While our system is exceptional and serves many children very well, we need to close the achievement gap to ensure every student receives a top-notch education.
Montgomery County is a dynamic, diverse, affluent and sophisticated community and I have been proud to be part of its governance. Having grown up here, having worked for Maryland’s U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, chaired the county’s Democratic Party for five years and represented the entire county as an At-Large Councilmember for 12 years, I believe I have a profound understanding of the county’s needs and its future challenges and opportunities.
I have been endorsed by both The Washington Post and the Gazette which have cited my advocacy for the disadvantaged and my ability to make tough decisions. I have learned a lot during my twelve years in office and I can put my knowledge and experience to work in a fourth term to help Montgomery County achieve the bright future it deserves.