Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Becky Wagner Online

County Council at-large challenger Becky Wagner has her website up, and it's a nice piece of work. Our spies picked Wagner as one of the county's most formidable potential challengers way back in June and she is ramping up her campaign. We reprint her blog entry "Imagine," which gives the rationale for her candidacy, below.


Posted by Becky Wagner on December 18th, 2009

My decision to run for County Council comes after working on behalf of Montgomery County for nearly 40 years. Many of you know me from your different and our sometimes separate worlds. Perhaps we met at the Rockville Cooperative nursery school; or when we created Rainbow Place Shelter for women, or at the Georgian Forest Elementary School PTA 30 years ago where we held international potlucks and created a newsletter in three different languages (yes, so long ago!). Do we know each other from the many soccer fields around the county, where my boys played and I managed the Wheaton Kickers in the National Capital Soccer League?

Or maybe you met me when I served on the staff of Senator Paul Sarbanes, where Montgomery, Prince Georges and Howard Counties, and the needs of those communities, became my prime concern and that of the Senator. Perhaps you know me as a member and Elder at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. It may be that you know me, or met me as the Executive Director of Interfaith Works. Are you a member at one of the more than 165 congregations working together to meet the needs of the low income community here in Montgomery County? If that is so, then you know me as a parent, friend, volunteer, advocate and leader.

During these past ten years I have served as Executive Director of one of the County’s most important organizations, Interfaith Works, providing critical services to our community. In my ten years at Interfaith Works we have grown from an annual budget of $800,000 to $4.5 million, from five programs to ten, and from 90 congregations to 165. With our mission always in mind, I have faced the same struggles of every small business—meeting payroll, providing benefits and healthy work environments, and assuring that an investment in Interfaith Works is money well spent.

It is because of my life’s work of building partnerships and coalitions that strengthen communities, that I know we can meet the challenges of the day, because I know we are better together. It is the responsibility of our elected officials to model both civility and commitment to constructive problem solving. We need to begin working together to solve the important issues of the day. In my almost 40 years living and working in this County, I know that when it comes to what matters, regardless of socio-economic status, race, ethnicity or educational background, we are more alike than different. We care about our families, access to opportunity, education, and safe and healthy communities.

For that reason, we have to make this next election about what matters:

We must grow jobs in our county—good jobs that build the revenue base for needed services. We cannot tax our way out of the loss of revenues that we face. We must create a vibrant economic environment that helps our businesses thrive. Montgomery County must be open for business, and we have to do more than just say so. What is preventing national, medium and small businesses from choosing to establish their headquarters here? Where is the incentive for new businesses and green jobs to settle in strategic areas of our county, near transportation and homes? When business is robust, everything I care about is funded. We cannot talk about access and opportunity if we are unwilling to generate jobs that lead to self-sustaining families.

We must tackle our transportation stalemate. We have to get moving; it isn’t either/or, but both: transit and roads. We must implement our smart growth plans to enable families and individuals to live, work, walk and play in our own neighborhoods. We need transportation systems that help move children to daycare and school, and us to work and home. This goal is not at the expense of our environment. We have strong safeguards in place to protect our natural resources. Our Agriculture Reserve serves as the green lungs for our County. With that as a priority, we must accept that our nearly one million neighbors need to live and work in two-thirds of our land. That does require accommodation. We do not get to be the last people through the door!

We must create classrooms where teachers can accomplish education goals with flexibility in the classroom curriculum. We recognize that our children come to school with many different experiences and backgrounds. If we truly want children to learn and have access to every education and employment opportunity, we must allow flexibility for our teachers to achieve those educational goals while assuring that children are not simply promoted to achieve data targets. Further, we need to encourage students who have interests in the trades to graduate with an education that allows them to make career choices to assure life-long success in their chosen occupations. Truly well-educated children become our well-educated workforce, and strengthen and stabilize our community.

If we want that educated workforce to remain in Montgomery County, or return to Montgomery County, we must implement our stated priorities for workforce and affordable housing in a way that actually creates affordable housing. Building is at a stand still, not only because of the recession, but because current law does not promote growth in affordable and workforce housing. We have lost affordable housing, and recent legislation literally has reduced production of enough affordable housing for our nurses, firefighters, police officers and teachers to live in the communities where they work. The White Flint sector plan shows the potential for an exciting, livable, walkable community. We must agree to move forward with this urban vision in mind for new growth in our housing stock. Affordable housing gets us off the roads and closer to our schools and our workplace.

I am running for Montgomery County Council because we need leadership to make courageous decisions about what matters, and better choices to move us forward. Over the coming months, I want to listen and learn from you. I want to talk with you about what matters, and I want this election to be about what matters.

Perhaps you know the song “Imagine” by John Lennon?

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

I do hope you will join me. We will move this County forward, and we will make progress, because we know we are Better Together. Imagine.