In my conversations with Montgomery County voters, one issue stands out as a concern for people from many communities: Montgomery County is an expensive place to live.
How many retirees could afford to buy the house they live in? How many young people can afford a first home here?
These are serious issues for us because we want to be a community that is accessible to people at all points in their lives.
If we can’t attract young workers or hang on to empty nesters, we have a major gap in our economic competitiveness, not to mention our family lives.
So what can we do about it?
First and foremost, the cost of housing is the primary driver of the cost of living.
Anything that we can do to slow the increase in housing prices is going to result in a more affordable community.
That of course is a matter of supply and demand. When we don’t have enough housing available, buyers bid up the prices. Rising mortgages, rents and home values make it more expensive for everyone.
That is why I have worked so hard to ensure we are planning a future for the county where adequate new housing is built around public transportation, with the school construction and infrastructure funding to match that growth.
We need a vision for smart growth in order to manage change.
Transportation is another key component. The cost of housing is almost always a matter of how close that housing is to job centers. Not only do we need more housing near job centers, but we need to build efficient public transportation networks so that more of our housing offers faster commutes. We also need to bring new job centers closer to where people live.
Tax burdens are also a challenge. To promote affordability, I have successfully worked to increase property tax credits for low income seniors and income tax credits for working families. Our tax burden, adjusted for growth in incomes, is at its lowest point in five years. I also believe that the best way to keep residential taxes from rising is to expand our commercial tax base.
But above all else, we cannot put our heads in the sand and face backwards instead of forwards.
I am proud of my record facing the future and ensuring that as we change, we change for the better.
I hope to earn your support in the June Democratic Primary.