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Three things I’ll be doing this Earth Day

It’s Earth Day, and as we all appreciate the fantastic parks and green spaces we have here in Montgomery County, I need your support to continue making environmental progress on the County Council.  Here are three top priorities I am working on:

1) Reducing pollution by promoting alternative transportation modes. I advocate smart, sustainable transportation projects like the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, Bus Rapid Transit, and Capital Bikeshare, and have fought to see them funded. These projects will cut greenhouse gas emissions and ease traffic by getting cars off the roads during peak traffic hours.

2) Putting new buildings and housing where it is most environmentally responsible. As Montgomery County’s population continues to grow, we must rise to the challenge of ensuring new development is undertaken with the environment in mind. By keeping housing and retail projects close to public transportation hubs, we can minimize their environmental impact and create urban communities that are walkable and green.

3) Planting trees for future generations. I am working with County Executive Leggett to launch a tree planting campaign. I voted for both bills to protect and replenish our tree canopy. Development doesn’t have to compromise Montgomery County’s natural beauty or public resources, and our children will thank us for abundant trees, clean water, and fresh air.

Please help me continue to advocate for priorities that will make Montgomery more environmentally friendly in 2024 than it is today. Let’s look back ten years from now and be amazed by how far we have come. I need your help to get the word out, and I hope I can count on your vote on June 24th.

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Fellowship Opportunity with Councilmember Hans Riemer’s Campaign!

Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer (At-Large) seeks campaign fellows for his re-election campaign. This is a great opportunity for someone who wants to learn or refine their campaign skills. Activists welcome.

Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Directly assisting the candidate, campaign manager and field director as needed
  • Collaborate with volunteers and supporters in the office and at campaign events
  • Direct voter contact, including but not limited to canvassing door-to-door, phone banking and events
  • Further opportunities available in finance, research, and communications & social media
  • These positions will work closely with senior staff to learn first-hand the inner workings of a campaign

Time Commitment: 20 hours per week minimum time commitment, additional responsibilities and opportunities available to those willing to work hard and put in a greater time commitment

Compensation: Full time fellows may be eligible for a stipend.

Location: Silver Spring (2 blocks from Silver Spring Metro)

Ideal Applicant: The ideal applicant is motivated, detail orientated, and able to work cooperatively as part of a team. Selection is based on an interview and campaign/work experience.

How to Apply: Interested applicants should email Friends.of.Hans.Riemer@gmail.com with “Fellowship Application” in the subject line. In the email, please make a brief statement about why you are interested in the position and if you have worked on campaigns before. Resumes and cover letters are welcome but not required.

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Seniors in Montgomery County

I have spent much of my career working on issues that are important to youth and seniors. I have worked for AARP on retirement security policy and I also worked with AARP to design a national community service campaign. I have been recognized as a national leader on the fight to protect Social Security for future generations, because I helped stop President George Bush from privatizing that important program.

Because of this work, I understand that what we all want to is age with dignity and independence, and to be productive and contribute to the world around us.

Our great county is changing fast, and one of the trends that jumps out is the growing population of older residents. In fact, the growth rate for seniors is about 400% faster than any other age group. By 2020, seniors will be 14% of the population. Are we doing all that we can do to make this a great place to live for an entire lifetime? I think we can do more.

A unique aspect of this challenge is that the population of seniors will be much more diverse in the future than they have been in the past. This means we need to expand our services for seniors who are not English proficient and partner more with culturally competent nonprofit organizations that provide services for these seniors; and we need to do a much better job communicating about important county services such as transportation, community centers, and so forth.

Affordability is a key concern. Many retirees live on fixed incomes, but expenses in the Washington region rise high and fast. I have proposed one solution that I know will help many seniors: a bill that would double the county’s existing property tax credit for low-income seniors.

Nearly 8% of seniors in Montgomery County aged 75 or older live in poverty. The county’s Senior Tax Credit is a progressive property tax credit, so the lower the income, the higher the tax credit. In 2012, there were 3,063 recipients and the average recipient received $179.15. I have proposed a bill that would double the average amount to $358.30. This could make a difference to low income seniors who struggle to pay for utilities, medications, health care and the other basics of life.

Mobility is another key concern. I have worked with the County Executive to implement a series of measures designed to give seniors more transportation options. Among them are hiring a Mobility Management Administrator to oversee and coordinate senior transportation programs; an increase in funding for the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington to provide a “Smooth Ride” escorted transportation pilot program; and new funding to arrange quarterly mini-trips to activities and events in the metropolitan Washington and Baltimore areas that will originate from the five Senior Centers and the 55+ active adult recreation programs.

Senior transportation is a work in progress and I plan to add more initiatives in this area in the future.

I am always looking for more ideas and I ask you to share yours with me.

One related note: In “Imagine An Aging Future in Montgomery County,” a task force on these issues points out that the “decline in younger, working-age residents which will have grave implications for meeting the informal and formal services needs of an aging county.”

Montgomery County has not been successful enough in attracting young adults to stay here and to live here, and I have been spearheading an initiative to change that.

Because I believe that, as my former mentor Robert M. Ball was fond of saying, “we are all in it together.”

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I voted to protect the creek

The Ten Mile Creek watershed is a special place and an invaluable environmental resource for Montgomery County, which is why I voted to protect it. Read my blog post on this critical issue below.

http://www.councilmemberriemer.org/2014/02/i-voted-to-protect-ten-mile-creek.html

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My record, moving MoCo forward

When I ran for the County Council in 2010, I ran on a platform of progressive values: supporting education and public transportation, protecting our environment, helping the most vulnerable and boosting our economic competitiveness.

This past November, I kicked off my re-election campaign with a fantastic event attended by hundreds of enthusiastic Democrats and community activists.

This election will be competitive, and I need your support to finish strong. But first, I invite you to consider my record.

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Progressive Values
I introduced and passed a bill to restore Montgomery County’s Earned Income Tax Credit after the last council cut it, and I supported one of the highest minimum wage rates in the nation — two policies that combined make Montgomery County one of the nation’s leaders in fighting poverty. I cast the deciding vote for a bill to protect janitors and service workers from layoffs, and I walked the picket line to support unionizing our trash workers, who now have a union. I supported budget increases to provide health care through county clinics for residents who lack insurance — also a national model policy — and to restore services in our great libraries.

Education and Children
The Great Recession challenged the county to protect education, but we did it, and so did the state. This year’s MCPS budget – $2.225 billion – is an all-time record. We are also spending an additional $125 million on school construction debt service, $84 million on school retiree health benefits, $53 million on school support services and $22 million on school IT modernization, over and above the MCPS budget. As a parent of young children concerned about preparing kids for school, I drafted and passed a bill requiring the county to consider including space for child care in every facility we build.

Smarter Government
I introduced and passed the Open Data Act of 2012 to require our county government to further open its books to the public. The result is a new website with employee compensation, food inspections, residential permits, budget information and much, much more that is growing by the day. All council committee sessions are now recorded on video, which you can watch live on cable, our website and even your smart phone. Our county won a national award for its efforts.

Environmental Sustainability
I voted for two landmark bills to protect the county’s tree canopy. I also voted for stormwater fees to clean up the bay and a bag fee to protect our local streams. I was the only Council Member to vote in committee against a misguided effort to repeal part of the bag fee, before it was withdrawn. And I have insisted on environmentally responsible plans for Ten Mile Creek.

Public Transportation
When the future of important transit projects like the Purple Line and the upcounty Corridor Cities Transitway was on the line, I helped launch a successful statewide effort to fund them. While clarifying that improving Metro is our top transportation priority, I also supported a master plan to establish a full Bus Rapid Transit system around the county as well as other master plans to provide for more desperately needed housing — including affordable housing — around transit stations.

Jobs and Competitiveness
Before I came to the council, our county had no strategic plan for attracting and retaining key industries. So I drafted and passed a bill to require one. I also passed a bill to give tax credits to cybersecurity companies, a booming sector that Montgomery County could one day dominate. And I launched a nightlife initiative designed to help us retain our young workers and empty nesters.

Those are some highlights from my record. I hope you agree that I am on the right track. And if you do, I need your help to continue my work.

Please help me to keep moving Montgomery County forward.

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Have you been to Carderock Springs?

Have you been to Carderock Springs? What an absolutely incredible neighborhood. I am so grateful to Tara VanToai and her husband Norman for organizing a house party for me meet neighbors and friends at their beautiful home — folks who exemplify every great facet of our county. We had government scientists and researchers, a college professor (who taught my brother Neal Riemer at GW!), MCPS students, a man who shared his story of coming to Montgomery County from Vietnam penniless and who is now a successful businessman, community organizers and leaders such as Michael C Lin, friends who are building global economic consulting businesses here and working to help Montgomery County benefit from their enterprise, neighborhood activists who have been involved in their community for decades, making it a better place to live. I enjoyed our discussion and commented on how thrilling it is to be held accountable to such a remarkable community of people– this is what Montgomery County is all about.

Hans Riemer