high-pressure role. Are these con-
My colleagues elected me council president twice, and 2015 [second term as
president] was a particularly cooperative
year in which councilmembers got along
very, very well. I view my role as county
executive as the coach of the team. Every
member of the team has got to be given
credit for his or her accomplishments.
I understand how to do that, and I did
that as council president. I recognized
and praised my colleagues, and worked
very well with them.
Now, I am passionate about having
government provide housing for the
homeless, I am passionate about reducing educational and economic inequity.
It’s because I’m passionate about things
that [the] Purple Line Now [organiza-tion] maintained its advocacy for the
Purple Line in good times and in bad.
You have to have passion to accomplish
big things, and that’s been my record.
I’m not running as an outsider: I like
interacting with other elected o;cials. I
understand where they’re coming from,
I understand what their needs are. So I’m
entirely comfortable I will play well in
the schoolyard with others.
Over the next decade, what do you
feel are the major challenges facing
;e single largest challenge is inequality
of educational opportunity. ;e largest
demographic group in the public schools
today is Latino, and we are not serving
our Latino students as well as we are serving other demographic groups. And we
are not serving African-American students as well. But those are the workers
of the future, and the future of our school
system and what it means for our economy is much too important for the next
county executive to play a hands-o; role.
I’m not proposing structural changes. I
There continue to be complaints that
am proposing an assembling of data [and]
outside review and audit. …I would make
sure that the school system is account-
able for results, and I would detail sta;
to assess whether we are achieving
measurable reductions in the achieve-
ment and opportunity gap. And I would
speak to issues of [allocating] resources,
making the most rigorous curriculum
available to every student regardless of
ZIP code, and providing more choices
and more options for students.
the county is not business-friendly.
What needs to be done to address
;e county executive has to spend his or
her time getting to know employers and
understanding their needs. An important employer in this county, [Mayorga
Organics President] Martin Mayorga,
is a good friend, and last year I went to
visit [him] and said, ‘So Martin, what can
county government do for you?’ He said,
‘You know, you are the only elected o;cial who has sat at my conference table
and asked me that question.’ So that kind
of relationship building is something
that the next county executive has to prioritize—both in the county and traveling
to identify opportunities with people
who might want to move to the county.
We need to let employers know that we
care about them, that we’re responsive
to them, and that we have a culture of
We’ve got a great story to tell; we’ve
got to market ourselves better. Clearly,
the fact that we have advanced to the
second round on Amazon’s [second
headquarters] speaks well of the county.
;e things that made us attractive to
Amazon should make us attractive for
investment around the globe.
You were part of a unanimous county
council vote in 2016 for a property
tax increase that averaged about
9 percent. County Executive Ike
Leggett urged a lower increase, and
there is a widespread view that the
hike was a major factor in term limits
being approved by voters that year.
Any second thoughts?
We made the decision to make a major
investment to keep pace with rising
student population. Public education
is the most important function of local
government, we were falling behind, and
it was necessary. Some of it [also] went
to road resurfacing, some of it went to
police protection, some of it to librar-
ies. ;ese are core functions of county
government that constituents expect.
Everyone wants great services, and
nobody wants a tax increase—and that’s
the reality of being an elected o;cial.
I would not anticipate a property
tax increase during my term as county
executive. I think we have to prioritize
and we have to seek e;ciency. I think
our economic prospects are bright, and
we have every reason to look ahead to a
In 2017, you supported two versions
of the bill to raise the local minimum
wage to $15 per hour—the first one
vetoed by the county executive, the
second one signed into law. Are you
concerned this move could affect the
;e jobs that we’re seeking to attract,
including Amazon but not only Amazon,
are not minimum-wage jobs. Employers benefit when workers can a;ord to
live here, and when workers feel they’re
being treated decently and that they
want to stick around in a job. I’ve read
a lot of the economic literature on this;
I think the multiplier e;ects of having
more cash in the pockets [of those] at
the low end of the income scale will be of
significant benefit to the very merchants
and retail establishments who are complaining about the minimum wage.
Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed to
widen I- 270 and I-495 and put in toll
lanes similar to those in Virginia. Is
that a concept you support, and what
are your transportation priorities?
I was pleased that Gov. Hogan identified
I- 270 and the American Legion Bridge
as a priority. I would like to see a [mass]
transit component in the plan. I’d love
to see rail all the way to Frederick, but
I think that’s a long-term goal. Short