Monday, November 7, 2016

Opinion: Hold the Montgomery Council Accountable

With so much focus in the media on national elections, it is often forgotten that our local and state elected officials have a much more direct impact on our day to day lives, and how much more your vote really matters in determining the outcome of such votes.

Residents of Maryland don't get to choose state lawmakers this year.  Nor do residents of many areas get to pick their elected county officials.  But that does not mean your vote does not count when it comes to local matter.  Who votes and how they vote still has an impact on how seriously the concerns of different constituencies are taken, and local ballot questions are still very important.

In Montgomery County in particular, there are several questions on that ballot which they can decide.  "Question B" would create term limits on the Montgomery County council, to a maximum of three terms.  Not surprisingly, supporters of the county status quo don't want you to vote for this.  In fact, they are so concerned that term limits will pass that "Question C" was added solely for the purpose of preventing one council member from being unable to run if term limits pass, by ensuring a partial term does not count towards the term limit.

The current members of the Montgomery County Council have wavered between total indifference on motorist issues to open hostility towards motorists.   It seems like their answer to motorists who want road infrastructure improvements is that you should take the bus.  This county government has consistently prioritized transit projects over road projects.  Some council members have even supported the lowering of speed limits.

This county government has created the largest photo enforcement programs in the state, and one which operates under fewer restrictions than any other program in the state.  Not one member of the current Montgomery County Council has been the least bit responsive to any of the complaints we have raised about their automated traffic enforcement programs.  When concerns about the culture of secrecy surrounding the County's Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit were raised, the county government had nothing to say and let the situation stand unquestioned.  When questions were raised about the creation of secret "Police Citizens Advisory Boards" that were exempt from the Open Meetings Act, the county government had not a word of concern.  When it was reported that the County had illegally issued thousands of citations without legally required calibration logs, elected officials had nothing to say and did nothing to have those tickets refunded.  And the current county government continuously uses YOUR tax dollars to push for more restrictions on your rights at the state level and against any new protections for your rights.

Motorists living in Montgomery County cannot vote out the current county council this year.  But you can show them that their actions and their indifference have consequences by voting FOR QUESTION B and AGAINST QUESTION C.