Gubernatorial Candidates Headline Committee Breakfast (Photos & Video)
Hundreds of Montgomery County and Maryland elected officials and community leaders came together in Bethesda for the annual Committee for Montgomery breakfast, where six candidates for governor had a chance to give their priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
It was one of the first forums for the 2014 governor’s race and in front of a large crowd, the candidates were drilled with questions on how their ideas will help Montgomery County.
“Because of your support we have the largest crowd we’ve ever had at our breakfast,” said Ellen Bogage, chair of the Committee for Montgomery annual legislative breakfast.
This event serves as the unofficial kick-off for the legislative session, bringing issues to the table of importance to voters.
Carla Satinsky, chair of the Committee for Montgomery, said the organization has, “decided to approach decision making through the prism of the county’s most important issue, which is economic development.”
The virtual “who’s who” of Montgomery County and Maryland elected officials and community leaders highlights advocacy efforts for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, with those in attendance pitching in their thoughts for what needs to happen next.
“Montgomery County is seen by so much of the rest of the state as the ATM machine for the rest of the state. We need to make sure that we stand together and bring dollars back to Montgomery County because we have so many real needs here in the county that the rest of the state doesn’t appreciate,” said Attorney General Doug Gansler, D, a candidate for governor.
One of the overlying themes of the breakfast was the need for state funds to help with school construction in the County.
“We’re facing inordinate amounts of children that keep coming into our school system and we can’t keep pace with the level of school construction dollars that are coming in from the state,” said Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice. “That’s really going to be our number one ask that’s really what we’re seeking in terms of support from the general assembly.”
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, D, one of the gubernatorial candidates, spoke about the issue during the panel, saying that he’s solved a similar problem before.
“I’ll be standing with Montgomery County as I did last year with Baltimore City when we appropriated $1.1 billion dollars for their schools,” Brown said. We’ll do it this year for Montgomery County.”
Democratic candidate and delegate Heather Mizeur, D, says the issue needs to be addressed this year.
“All of our roads aren’t paved in gold in Montgomery County and all of our schools aren’t in perfect condition,” Mizeur said. We have many facilities that are overcrowded, that are too hot or too cold depending on the season, that have mold remediation issues that need to be addressed, our top priority going into this legislative session is having the resources necessary to rebuild our school.”
If elected, Mizeur also plans to help fund education by legalizing marijuana.
“We need to end the achievement gap in our schools by having universal pre-k and one of the ways we’re going to pay for it is regulating, legalizing and taxing marijuana,” Mizeur said. “Our prohibition laws have not worked, they’ve been an absolute failure they are enforced with racial bias and they distract our law enforcement from focusing on more serious and violent crimes. We could raise $155 million dollars a year through this proposal.”
The county’s top official said he found the forum worthwhile.
“I thought it was a wonderful forum, it was very informative,” said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. “I think that they all spoke very well and eloquently about the needs of the state and in particular Montgomery County. They all recognize that education is an important issue in Montgomery County and that we need additional resources for school construction.”