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Votes

Primary 2002: George L. Leventhal

County Council At-Large

August 27, 2002

George L. Leventhal

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Age: 39

Family: Married to Soraia Paschoal Leventhal since 1989. Two boys: Daniel, 7, and Francisco, 3

Campaign phone: 301-545-0267

E-mail: friendsofgeorge@leventhalforcouncil.com

Website: www.leventhalforcouncil.com

Office held: Member, Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, 1994-2002; Chairman of that committee, 1996-2001.

Occupation: Policy analyst

Current employment: Senior Federal Relations Officer, Association of American Universities

Education: University of California, Berkeley, Bachelor of Arts in English, 1984; Johns Hopkins University, Master’s Degree in Public Administration, 1987.

Community ties: I lived in Montgomery County as a child in the 1960s and 1970s, and returned here after college.  I have been deeply involved in county politics and community affairs since 1985. I have served on the CASA of Maryland Board of Directors, on the City of Takoma Park’s Elections Task Force and Transportation Policy Committee and the Montgomery County Census Task Force. I have actively participated in the Long Branch Neighborhood Initiative and played a leading role in many other political and community activities in the Takoma Park-Silver Spring area and throughout Montgomery County.

Endorsements: U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski; County Executive Doug Duncan; Montgomery County Education

Association; Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO; Action Committee for Transit.  For a complete list, see

www.leventhalforcouncil.com/endorsements.htm.

* Why are you running for this position?

* Because I love this community and I believe I can make a contribution to its governance.  I understand the things that make Montgomery County so special and I will work hard to ensure that you and your family can continue to enjoy the good life here.

* What is your top public-service accomplishment?

* From 1990 to 1995, I served as a senior staff member to U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. I was Senator Mikulski’s legislative assistant for appropriations, budget and transportation from 1990 to 1993 and her legislative director from 1993 to 1995. I helped her bring home hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation improvements in Montgomery County and throughout the region. I also worked on cleaning up the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, and on issues affecting federal employees and federal facilities in Montgomery County.

* What are the top five problems facing your constituents and what approaches will you use to solve them?

* a. The need for more and better transportation choices.  We need substantial investment in transportation infrastructure, including more public transportation and better roads.

b. Overcrowded schools.  We must accelerate our school construction and modernization schedule and expand availability of all-day kindergarten.

c. Lack of affordable housing.  I support a 2.5 percent set-aside of county property tax revenues to be used in many different ways to expand affordable housing.

d. Mental health crisis.  We must prevent the closure of any more mental health clinics in the county and work with state and federal officials to improve the overall system.

e. Disparity between those who can afford to enjoy the good life in Montgomery County and those whose families are struggling to get by from day to day.  I will be a voice for economic equity and social justice.

* What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?

* A commitment to putting the public interest first; strong academic and professional training in public policy and public administration; honesty, intelligence and compassion for people.

* How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponents?

* Voters should ask: Who is committed to serving the public interest rather than catering to narrow interests?  I am not beholden to any industry sector, nor will I cater exclusively to the grievances of NIMBYs. I will listen carefully to all sides, research the issues, and make my own judgment as to what best serves the public interest. Also, voters should ask, who is responsibly planning for the future, and who will make the right choices now — such as investing in our transportation infrastructure and our schools, to meet people’s needs and maintain a high quality of life.

* What is one thing you promise not to do if elected?

* Put my ego ahead of the public interest.

* What do you predict for the short-term (two-year) outlook of the Montgomery County budget and what adjustments will you propose to prepare for your prediction? Where can the county afford to trim the budget?

* There will be tough decisions that will need to be made.  Any budget cuts should be targeted to cause the least possible harm to vulnerable populations.

* Do you support the recently reviewed Potomac Master Plan? Specific elements that might need revision?

* Potomac, like all areas of the county, has the right to have its environment preserved and the desires of its residents reflected in its planning.  Potomac is a wonderful community and its residents are very fortunate.  I want to maintain the qualities that make it so special. However, I would have voted against the Potomac Master Plan. I am concerned that it will require allocating substantially more Legacy Open Space funds to Potomac than to other deserving areas of the county. Also, I am concerned that the Master Plan may not have allowed sufficient capacity for new affordable housing.

* How would you characterize transportation issues in Montgomery County and what specific actions would you support as a result? Please address your position on: Smart Growth; Metro Purple Line; ICC; Regional Transportation Authority; recently passed County Council plan calling for more than $4 billion in state funding over the next 10 years; raising the gas tax and other possible means of paying for transportation infrastructure.

* I am a strong supporter of the concept of smart growth.  My first priority is the Inner Purple Line, beginning with the segment between Silver Spring and Bethesda.  I support the Inter-County Connector.  Concerning a Regional Transportation Authority, I am not persuaded that we need another layer of government to make needed transportation improvements.  I was disappointed that the County Council did not include an ICC in its transportation plan although I support the other elements of the Council’s plan.  I would support a gas tax increase and the other revenue increases in County Executive Duncan’s “Go Montgomery” proposal.

* What is your position on a Techway and new bridge across the Potomac River in Montgomery County? Do you favor a new study?

* I favor a study.  I am not persuaded at the present time that the benefits of a bridge would outweigh the negative impacts.  I am particularly concerned about significant changes in land use patterns that would affect the agricultural reserve. I believe the county made a wise decision when it set aside 91,000 acres in perpetuity as an agricultural reserve, and I will be strict about opposing infringement on that acreage.

* How would you characterize and prioritize the preservation of open space in Montgomery County? What actions would you take?

* Our open and green spaces, as well as our parkland, are among the things that make Montgomery County such a special place to live. We must continue to preserve environmentally sensitive areas as well as preserve our county’s historic heritage. This must be a budget priority because if these properties are not preserved, they are lost forever. In addition to spending federal, state and county dollars to acquire land, we should solicit donations from landowners and work with organizations like The Nature Conservancy and other foundations and non-profits. Also, I will be strict about opposing infringement upon the agricultural reserve.

* Is the current rate and mix of county fees and taxes appropriate and equitable? What would you do differently?

* In general, I prefer an income-based approach to raising revenue rather than continued imposition of “nuisance taxes” and reliance upon fees that are not adjusted according to income.  However, I would have voted for the

fiscal 2003 budget that passed the council.

* Schools in Potomac and the rest of the county are overcrowded with renovation, additions and new schools behind schedule. What is the state’s role in solving this and what do you propose? How would you balance the need for funding for school construction and transportation infrastructure?

* Both the state and the county have an obligation to provide the necessary resources to ensure that our children are learning in comfortable and safe environments. School construction and transportation infrastructure are both priorities, with substantial investment needed in both.

* Does the special exception process in the county work as it should? Changes you would propose?

* I am not proposing any changes at this time.