Montgomery County Executive: Ike Leggett

Regional Economic Forum

What background uniquely qualifies you for this position?

For the past seven years, I have been fortunate to serve as County Executive. To tackle the challenges of tomorrow, there is no better experience than having served in these uncertain, difficult times. I served four terms on the County Council, including three as President. I am currently the President of the County Executives of America.
I chaired the Maryland Democratic Party from December 2002 – 2004, which involved working with local officials throughout Maryland.

In earlier leadership experience I served as a Captain in the United States Army, where my service in Vietnam War earned me the Bronze Star Medal. I was chair of the Human Rights Commission.

In 1977, I was a White House Fellow, one of a small number of citizens selected from across the country for exemplary civic, professional and educational achievement.

I served as a Professor of Law and Assistant Dean at the Howard University Law School.

What is the next step for dealing with the Silver Spring Transit Center? Who is to blame for the many problems?

We are successful in getting all parties to agree to the final remediation plan that is essential to ensuring all of the safety challenges facing the center. And as a result, work re-started on the Transit Center last week. The County will turn it over to WMATA this fall.

When construction was 95 percent complete, I was concerned about cracking in the facility and hired experts to determine the underlying cause. A thorough investigation rather than just a “quick fix,” discovered the serious problems.

I put safety first, and rejected the “politically expedient” option; I wanted to get the job done right.

I will protect taxpayers by requiring the contractors, responsible for the problems –– to bear any additional costs created by construction and design flaws.

I will turn over to WMATA a structure that is both safe and durable; politics will not get in the way of safety or protecting the interests of County taxpayers.

What is your strategy for reducing traffic in Montgomery County?

Under my leadership, the County has become a national leader in walkable Smart Growth development in our urbanizing areas, and will rely heavily on transit. Focusing our growth has helped lay the foundation for improving our transportation network, with funding either in place or coming in the near future for not only the Purple Line, but the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) and the Rapid Transit Vehicle (RTV) system.

I worked aggressively last year to secure over a billion State dollars to move our major county transportation projects forward, and I will continue to push for the funding for these important transportation priorities in the years ahead.

How will you promote green technology over the next term?

My track record on protecting the environment and fostering “green” policies, not only in green technology but in environmentally sustainability, is unparalleled by any other County administration:

  • Expanded County recycling to be the most expansive in the region – and set a new goal to recycle 70 percent of the County’s waste by 2020.
  • Expanded the purchase of renewable energy by County government to 30 percent of the County’s total use.
  • Expanded the County’s purchase of “clean energy” vehicles.
  • Installed solar panels on the County’s Transfer Station.
  • Required new County government buildings to be LEED-certified.
  • Implemented the first M-4 stormwater program in the State to protect our streams and water supplies.
  • Implemented Bag law which reduced plastic bags in County waterways by 50%.
  • Championed the tree canopy bill.
  • Reduced paper usage by County government more than 40 %, saving 1,500 trees annually.
  • Developed a Climate Protection Plan for the County to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

What is your plan for keeping/making Montgomery County affordable?

In my seven years as County Executive, I have dedicated over $320 million to affordable housing. Families need the stability that an affordable home provides. We know that this stability can have a profound effect on children and their performance in school. Affordable housing is also a key factor in building economic success by helping businesses attract and retain employees.

Even during the difficult times of the Great Recession, under my leadership the County built or maintained over 12,000 affordable housing units – more than in any similar period in our county’s history.

Our Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to increase affordable housing in our urban centers so that people on limited incomes can have access to transit.Under my leadership, DHCA will continue to maximize these opportunities because I am committed to making our emerging urban areas a welcome place for everyone.

Does the county need to cut its budget?

A responsible leader will balance the needs of the County at any given point in time depending on circumstance and need. In the last seven years, and especially during The Great Recession, I created budgets in a fiscally sustainable manner that either cut or reduced the rate of growth by almost $3 billion. I have made hard choices. A responsible County Executive keeps all financial options open in assessing economic conditions and makes responsible decisions as to whether it is prudent to increase revenues or decrease expenses.

What services are inadequate?

I have made investments in education and public safety that are paying off. I madeschools and public safety two of my top funding priorities, even during the Great Recession. Our schools are among the top in the nation and our neighborhoods are safer than when I took office seven years ago, with a 33 percent reduction in serious crime.

Yet, we can do more. To that end, I included $68.5 million in my FY15 recommended operating budget to support programs for children and youth to help them achieve both academically, and holistically. Seven years ago, I launched my Positive Youth Initiative, which has worked collaboratively with our school system to achieve positive results.

I am committed to increasing support for our youth, both during school hours and during out-of-school time, so that we can make progress on the achievement gap.

If you could enact a single change for Montgomery County, what would it be?

I know firsthand how education can change a life. Raised in small-town Alexandria, Louisiana, where Igrew up as the seventh of 12 children in a four room house without in-door plumbing, my father and mother always focused on education as the way to get ahead and build a better future.

I would like to help make that difference for children in Montgomery County by implementing universal pre-K education here in our County.

Preschool education can be the key to unlocking a child’s potential for learning throughout life, and can affect not only their educational achievement but can reduce their potential entry into crime and delinquency.

A recent study showed that children in the most disadvantaged communities who participated in pre-K programs make significant gains in literacy, language, math and science through 4th and 5th grade.

When we invest in our children’s education, we invest in our future.

Endorsements:

  • Senator Ben Cardin
  • Congressman Chris Van Hollen
  • Governor Martin O’Malley
  • Maryland Senator Brian Frosh
  • Montgomery County Education Association
  • The Washington Post
  • Montgomery County National Organization for Women
  • SEIU Local500
  • CASA in Action
  • Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors
  • Progressive Neighbors
  • NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland
  • Hispanic Democratic Club of Montgomery County
  • Montgomery County Public Schools Retiree Association
  • African America Club of Montgomery County
  • Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans of Montgomery County
  • Ethiopian Americans Council

Contact information and social media links

Website: Ikeleggett.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/voteikeleggett
Twitter: ikeleggett@voteikeleggett

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