Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Duchy Trachtenberg's Last Appeal to the Voters

Following is a message Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg posted on her website on Monday. This was her final appeal to the voters explaining why she deserved a second term.


I want to thank you for listening to me, talking to me, and sharing with me your concerns and priorities in this important election. I’ve always treasured the daily work of democracy, measured by my advocacy, diligence and consistent commitment to fairness, equity and social change. Elections are a highly visible platform for this effort, but my dedication and resolve is ongoing. I know that as an active citizen and steadfast Democrat, you share this determination and passion.

Tomorrow, Montgomery County Democrats have an opportunity to rise above the negativity and harsh rhetoric we’ve seen both here in our community and on a national level. The backlash against those of us who have dedicated our careers to public service, progressive values and making government work is disturbing to say the least—but I also see an opportunity to demonstrate the power and enduring appeal of our most deeply felt beliefs. I ask for your vote not just for my sake but for the principles that unite us as Democrats and guide us through these turbulent, historic times.

This County Council election matters to your well-being. The Council operates a $4 billion budget that serves 950,000 residents with schools, parks, medical clinics, shelters and police and fire services. As one of your four at-large council members, I am truly on the front lines of countless debates and decisions that will determine the future of our community.

I am proud of my record of speaking plainly, and standing up for your interests against the special interests. I believe the “Duchy difference” of integrity, independence and fiscal responsibility is the right approach for Montgomery County.

County Executive Ike Leggett said when he endorsed me, “This is not the time for on-the-job training …We need the best minds and the strongest leadership and people who are prepared to do what is right for Montgomery County regardless of the political consequences. And this is what we have in Duchy Trachtenberg. We cannot make a mistake because the challenges are too difficult.”

I’ve also been endorsed by various groups including the Sierra Club, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, Montgomery Women, the Montgomery County Business PAC, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce PAC, the Green Democrats and groups representing African-American, Asian American, Hispanic American and Caribbean American Democrats.

In its endorsement editorial, The Washington Post said that I was “the first of the at-large council members to sound the alarm on the county’s grave fiscal problems and has been a tough and consistent voice for trimming spending and budgeting responsibly. That took courage and she deserves re-election.”

I believe that the clock has finally run out on the fantasy that government can spend without consequence, or make budget policy without discipline. If we are to rein in spending and find a way to maintain essential services, the urgency of sober and serious fiscal planning is inescapable.

I do have some new goals for my second term besides maintaining fiscal discipline.

In my first term I helped create the Family Justice Center, a clearinghouse for victims of domestic abuse that in one year of operations has served more than 1,700 families from more than 100 countries. Sitting as the county health board, the council passed my regulation to ban trans fat in restaurants in the county, an important step to combat heart disease. And I passed legislation to begin to the cash and property seized from convicted drug dealers to be used for treatment programs.

In my second term, I would like to create a one-stop veterans service center in the county that would focus especially on our returning Iraqi and Afghan war veterans. And I will continue to work hard to create a mental health court so that victims of mental illness receive treatment when they mess up and not a jail cell.

We need to focus on creating and attracting jobs in the county especially along transit lines. So we need to fight hard for state and federal funding of the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway. We need to stay on top of the White Flint master plan and complete new plans in Wheaton and the East County area. We need to keep Silver Spring and Bethesda safe and prosperous.

We have to continue support our excellent school system and work closely with the school board to find savings without sacrificing quality in the classroom. And we cannot forget that many children and their families experience challenges that transcend the schoolhouse door and school-based services are not a luxury but a necessity if we are to provide every child with a strong education and equitable opportunities.

My commitment to what Robert Kennedy called “acts of courage and belief” have at times made me a lightning rod for those who seek to divide us through angry rhetoric and the politics of personal destruction. Of course, these attacks have not deterred or discouraged me in the slightest—but I am saddened by the cynicism and mean-spirited nature of these baseless attacks. I have defended my views with fervor and confidence—but the best way to counter negative campaigning is by a positive, enthusiastic vote for politics that puts people first.

That’s what I hope you will do tomorrow when you come to the polls.

I want to thank the many volunteers and supporters who have helped me in this campaign. And I especially want to thank the citizens of Montgomery County for your attention and respect. It is an honor to serve you.

Again, I ask for your vote on Tuesday.