My Vision for Montgomery County, Maryland
By Dwight Patel, Candidate for State Senate, LD 20
Transportation Issues– We need more roads and should look at all possible transportation solutions. If I need to go into the city, I use Metro. However, mass transit isn’t a silver bullet that will fix our transportation woes. I support the governor’s plans to widen the Beltway, I-270 and the Baltimore Washington Parkway. I also believe we should extend Metro to BWI Airport, since all world class cities have light rail to airports. Although the MARC train goes to BWI, it isn’t convenient. I strongly oppose BRT on Route 29, Rockville Pike and the Damascus area, because we don’t fix traffic issues by taking away a car lane and giving it to a BRT car. Right now, we see Ride-On buses that go through our neighborhoods virtually empty.
Solutions – We must also focus on solutions for traffic congestion. A good start would be to look at what Houston, Texas has done right compared to what Los Angeles has done wrong. While Houston focused its efforts on building new roads, along with additional mass transit, Los Angeles relied solely on mass transit. Let’s consider using flyovers and smart synchronization of traffic lights that keeps traffic moving. Let’s examine bus routes we can eliminate and add new ones where needed. Let’s add responsible bike paths where it makes sense.
Education– Like transportation, we need to investigate all the workable possibilities. We need to offer more options, especially to kids in under-performing county schools. We need charter schools and vouchers. A zip code shouldn’t be a death sentence to a student sitting in a failing school. And let’s set up a dual track approach for our kids. Since not all kids will be attending college, we should look at setting up technical schools where kids can learn IT or a skilled trade, much like the Edison Center. In fact, we need to add more schools like Edison, which focus on IT, health care services and carpentry, HVAC and the plumbing trade. We need to have an Edison Center-type school for up-county as well. The city of Philadelphia has developed partnerships with various charter schools to accomplish these goals.
Montgomery County also needs to have more math and science magnet schools. Since we have some of the brightest minds in the country in our public schools, we need to challenge these kids and get them ready for the rapidly evolving high-tech economy. Again, we can learn from our friends in Philadelphia, where they have developed charter schools that prepare kids for careers in Engineering, Architecture and Computer Science. Once more, nothing should be off the table. We shouldn’t reject an idea out of hand just because a Republican thought of it.
Solutions – Let’s look at what’s working around the country. For example, the fact that Montgomery County has eliminated final exams is truly a step backward. We need to bring back standardized tests that all Maryland students must pass before being promoted to the next grade. We should also look at Philadelphia, New York and Houston to see what works. Charter schools should become an option in Montgomery County, and we should offer tax credits for parents who send their kids to private or parochial schools.
Taxes and Regulations– We need to cut taxes on Marylanders, who pay too much in taxes compared to our neighbors. We also must lower the sales tax back to 5%. Montgomery County loses too many Maryland families to other states because of its oppressive taxes.
We also need to cut burdensome regulations in Maryland in order to make it easier for people to start businesses. We should set up more tech incubators and create more enterprise zones in Maryland, such as those that were championed by the late Jack Kemp.
Solutions – Tax Cuts. We would do well to emulate the administrations of former Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush whose tax cuts spurred the creation of jobs and grew the economy. We also need to offer business tax incentives that would inspire more businesses to move to Maryland. New York state provides business tax credits and incentives to relocate in New York. We should do the same in Maryland. If we provide an environment that says, “we’re open for business,” we won’t be as dependent on the Federal Government being our largest employer. We need to bring in companies like Amazon that will create high paying new jobs for Marylanders.
I ask you to focus your attention on my ideas and those of the GOP with an open mind. We offer common-sense solutions that have worked in other states. Case in point: Do you remember what NYC was like before Mayor Rudy Giuliani? Times Square was a nightmare, Central Park was a war zone, and businesses were leaving NYC in droves until Mayor Giuliani incorporated the concepts that were working around the country – and look at NYC today.
It’s the epitome of a city that works.
We currently have one-party rule in Montgomery County. If we had 3 or 4 Republicans from Montgomery County in Annapolis, it would really upset the apple cart.
Today, Montgomery County Democrats know all too well that there are no consequences for their votes in Annapolis. It’s time to give them something to worry about by voting Republican for a change.
Dwight Patel is 1stVice Chairman of the Montgomery County MD Central Committee.