Monday, July 12, 2010

Why I’m Supporting Royce Hanson for County Council in District 2

By Gene Counihan.

Some press reports of Royce Hanson’s announcement last week that he would seek the open 2nd District seat on the County Council mentioned my support for his election. Since then many friends have asked me why I am such a strong supporter of his candidacy. This Guest Column provides a great opportunity for me to answer that question.

I came to Montgomery County to live, work and raise a family in 1963. One of the first community activists I met was Royce Hanson. Because of Royce’s vision and leadership in shaping our community over the years, I have repeatedly made the decision to continue to live in Montgomery County. Since the mid-sixties, Royce Hanson has had a major hand in creating the outstanding community we live in today. Royce drafted the new County Charter that was adopted in 1968. That Charter established our current Executive-Council form of government. Royce then served from 1972 until 1981 as Chairman of the Montgomery County Planning Board. During his tenure as chairman, the Agriculture Reserve Program was established and Royce became known and acclaimed nationally as the “Father” of the open space plan that has shielded 93,000 acres of land in Montgomery County from development. In addition to open space programs, Royce was the primary architect responsible for the County’s adoption of numerous planning, zoning, and growth management tools, including the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and Central Business District zones.

Royce Hanson lived outside of Montgomery County for a number of years as he continued to build a reputation as a nationally recognized professor and visionary leader in urban planning and development. Ten years ago Royce and his wife Mary returned home to Montgomery County to resume his life-long quest to build stronger and more livable communities through active civic engagement. Before long, Royce was again serving in many community leadership posts. In addition to teaching at UMBC, Dr Hanson soon became a Trustee at Montgomery County Community Ministries and the U of MD Agro-Ecology Center and he became Chairman of the Board of the Maryland Environmental Trust. He served as co-chair of the Legacy Open Space Advisory Committee and became a Democratic Party precinct chair in Montgomery Village.

In 2006 when major development violations were discovered in Clarksburg, the County Council turned to Royce to investigate what went wrong. Because of his outstanding work and the strength of his recommendations for remedial action, the Council asked him to return to the position he left 25 years earlier, Chairman of the Planning Board. The Council knew they could count on Royce to clean up the mess and restore public confidence in the planning process and the County’s oversight of development.

During his just completed term as chairman, Royce provided leadership in filling key staff positions and refocusing the Board’s work to correct oversight deficiencies. With public confidence restored he was able to steer transformative master plan revisions of Germantown, Gaithersburg West and White Flint areas through adoption by the County Council. These bold plans will shape Montgomery County growth and quality of life for future generations.

Now, Royce wants to serve on the County Council where he will be able to work to implement the policies and plans he set in motion at the Planning Board. He remains a community activist committed to resolving our fiscal challenges in order to support quality schools, maintain clean and usable parks, and to coordinate transportation and development planning while preserving open spaces and respecting our environment.

So, you see, I’m supporting Royce Hanson’s candidacy for County Council because he has done so much to make our community the best place I know to call home. And if intelligence, integrity, vision, and experience aren’t enough, how about, I just flat out like the guy.

Royce Hanson is “good people.” Please join me in helping to elect him to the County Council.