County executive candidate Doug Duncan again attacked Isiah Leggett’s leadership ability in a radio appearance on Friday and also promised a review of the county’s speed camera program if elected this year.
Duncan, who served three terms as county executive from 1994-2006, went on WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show to make the case for his old job.
Duncan is facing two-term County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Councilmember Phil Andrews in June’s Democratic primary.
Duncan emphasized his focus on getting school construction money from the state and criticized Leggett and Andrews for not pursuing a package of state funding until this legislative session.
“They waited until an election year to come up with a plan for what we need to do to come up with construction dollars,” Duncan said.
He also said Leggett and other county leaders missed “a golden opportunity” to push for a statewide school construction funding bill last year, when state officials from Montgomery County gave their support to a similar funding package for Baltimore City.
“Education is my top priority. Always has been, always will be,” Duncan said. “Some of the students coming into our schools now, they have needs that are greater than the needs of children coming into our schools in year’s past.”
Duncan again said Leggett and Andrews were partially to blame for the over-budget and still unfinished Silver Spring Transit Center. Despite the endorsement of the county’s police union, Duncan said he agreed with Leggett and the Council’s decision to do away with effects bargaining rights for police. The union opposed that change and got enough support to push it to referendum during the 2012 general election.
Voters agreed to do away with effects bargaining, though Duncan said he did not approve of the way the county spent public money to campaign against it.
Duncan also indicated that he’d be open to funding the school system above the level required by the state’s controversial maintenance of effort law. Most county leaders have said that law serves as a disincentive to increasing funding for MCPS and makes funding the rest of the government more difficult.
“I think they’re wrong. Schools are the lifeblood of our community,” Duncan said. “If we just continue funding at the minimum level requirements, we’re basically on a path to mediocre schools, which is going to lead to a lot of problems for the county.”
NBC4 Washington reporter asked Duncan about speed cameras and Duncan said he would do a full review of the county’s program.
“I want to make sure the program in Montgomery County is focused on safety and not revenue,” Duncan said.
When pressed for examples of Leggett’s weak leadership — a popular Duncan campaign mantra — Duncan said he feared Montgomery County slipped in the past eight years. He included Andrews, a four-time council member, in his answer.
“They’ve been good public servants over a number of years, but at this time, because of the competitive environment we’re in… we need stronger leadership, someone who can solve our problems,” Duncan said. “One of the issues that we’ve had in Montgomery County is we perfected the phrase, ‘Paralysis by analysis,” in Montgomery County and we’re starting to slip back into that. I think the Transit Center is an example of that.”
Leggett has touted his fiscal stewardship during the Great Recession and has also said Duncan’s spending contributed to the county’s rough financial shape when he took over in 2008.
“What he has said is I left the county broke. You just have to laugh when you hear that,” Duncan said. “The facts are that I had 12 years of balanced budgets, 12 years of AAA Bond ratings, left the county with over $300 million worth of reserves, which the county rightfully used to get through the recession. I led this county out of two recessions. I want to lead it out of this third one.”