Candidate Statements: Balancing Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability

By Nicholas Christopher, last updated 6/12/14 08:04am
Photos by Helen Triolo

Early voting has begun! We spoke to candidates Tom Moore and Susan Hoffmann this morning at 101 Monroe St, who said they hope to see increased turnout in the next 5 days (early voting is through June 19) and on June 24, Maryland primary election day.

Photo credit Helen Triolo, Local First Media  

Primary elections are coming up in Maryland on June 24, with early voting beginning today, June 12, and running through June 19. Rockville residents registered as either Democrats or Republicans will be choosing candidates for these offices:
We sent an email to all candidates running in local county council and state legislative races, and asked them this

"At, we focus on providing information and inspiration to help keep Rockville thriving both economically and environmentally. As a candidate for office in a county or district that includes Rockville, we invite you to share a paragraph or two about your thoughts on ways to find a balance between those two often-conflicting needs."

We are pleased to have received the following responses and to have found out more about some of the impressive work already being done in Rockville and Montgomery County.

For Montgomery County District 3

Sidney Katz
Democratic Candidate for Montgomery County Council, District 3

Balancing the need for economic vitality with the need for environmental sustainability in our area are not mutually exclusive. We must continue to create more livable walkable communities to manage growth like we did in Gaithersburg during the 36 years I have been Mayor and a Gaithersburg City Councilmember with Rio, Lakelands, Kentlands and Crown Farm. Rockville Town Center is another example. By working together through proper planning processes with community participation we can ensure that our economic and environmental needs are met.

Montgomery County is and should continue to be a place where businesses want to be located. Business is the economic engine of our region and we need to work together to ensure that the I-270 biotech corridor remains strong, that jobs are both created here and brought here. Additionally, we must be certain that we do not take our natural and environmental resources for granted. Whether it is safeguarding our drinking water, reducing pollution and carbon emissions, protecting our food supply, or establishing incentives for more LEED certified buildings, the earth needs to be appreciated and the way we show our appreciation is by protecting it.

Tom Moore
Democratic Candidate for Montgomery County Council, District 3

Powering homes and businesses with wind, solar, and/or geothermal energy is an easy way to thrive economically and environmentally—and contribute to energy independence. With all the choices we have now through electricity suppliers, it’s simple to find clean sources that cost about the same as dirty sources. The Rockville Mayor and Council agreed in 2011 to partner with EPA to become a Green Power Community. The City is shifting its own electricity consumption to renewable sources where possible and has issued a challenge to residents and businesses to voluntarily switch to green power.

We’re close to a tipping point – by 2016, the price of solar power in Maryland will equal that of electricity generated by fossil fuels. Community renewable energy programs will soon let any of us buy a share of a local solar array or other local renewable power source and receive credit on our utility bill for our portion of electricity produced by the system. I was pleased to send the chair of our Environment Commission to Annapolis to testify in favor of a pilot of a Community Renewable Energy Generating System. When this system is up and running, Amy and I will be first in line!

For Montgomery County Council At Large

Robert Dyer
Republican Candidate for Montgomery County Council at Large

I believe we need to change course from the current council policy of urbanizing the suburbs. The attempt to redevelop the garden apartments on Twinbrook Parkway (just outside the Rockville city limits) is grossly misguided, and driven solely by developer profits. Demolishing them in favor of a town center with luxury apartments will not only destroy existing affordable units, but will also harm Rock Creek, which they abut. The council wants to extend its disastrous urbanization of White Flint into Rockville, by making the Twinbrook Parkway area part of a rebranded White Flint.

Rockville is facing similar internal and external pressures from developers - and the politicians they contribute to - to change from a suburban bedroom community to an urban area. This has been rejected in the past, and it should be rejected again now. My agenda will focus on completing our master plan highway system, so that we can move traffic off 355 and Rockville’s neighborhood streets onto those new highways. On development, I am suggesting a moratorium on the demolition of existing affordable housing, and new, dedicated funding to acquire or build affordable housing. Rockville and Montgomery County are suburban, and should stay that way.

Marc Elrich
Democratic Candidate for Montgomery County Council at Large

I don’t think there should be a conflict between the environment and our economic vitality. And I don’t believe that there’s a choice between whether we protect the environment or have economic activity. There is no actual project that could not be done in a way that protects the environment 99.99% of the time and perhaps those that can’t do that, shouldn’t be built. Just because a developer wants to use land for a particular use, doesn’t mean they should be able to, if the consequences have serious environmental impacts.

In the real world, any development is going to have some impact and we require, and are strengthening our requirements, for mitigation. And we know that mitigation rarely if ever preserves things as they are, but we can certainly prevent devastating impacts. But sometimes, development goes too far, can’t be accommodated and either needs to go elsewhere where it has less impact, or it shouldn’t be done. The successful effort to protect Ten Mile Creek, which I led from the very beginning, is an example of what happens when something doesn’t fit. The proposed development would have destroyed the creek and the scientific data showed that. No mitigation could prevent that outcome. So we scaled the development back to a small enough footprint so that the stream will be preserved at least as a “good” stream. We reduced the number of homes, and the proposed outlet mall that would have been placed on the headwaters will not get built.

It is a rare project that has to be built in only one place, and that place happens to have severe impacts on the environment. In the Ten Mile Creek case, both the housing and the outlet mall can be built in other places with less impact. Mostly what developers complain about is that environmental protections make projects more expensive. That’s a short-term view that focuses on their narrow interests. Not protecting the environment and our long history, nationally, of lax regulation has led us into the global warming fiasco we are confronting today. Those costs, social and economic, are being born by all of us, but those costs are never discussed when a particular project is being discussed. So I take the view that we must do everything we can to insure that future development has minimal impact on greenhouse gasses and produces the minimal air and water pollution. That needs to be part of the cost of doing business, like any other cost of construction. Allowing development to avoid regulations to protect the environment only means that the costs and burdens of unregulated growth are left to the rest of us.

I’ve supported all of the environmental legislation that has come from the Council. The tree bills I worked on with Roger Berliner are major steps to protect our tree canopy. My bill that barred construction adjacent to the C&O Canal protects that beautiful parks viewshed. And my proposal to build a comprehensive Bus Rapid Transit system to connect our neighborhoods to our job centers will be a critical piece in our local effort to provide drivers with a viable transit alternative that can help reduce CO2 emissons.

George Leventhal
Democratic Candidate for Montgomery County Council at Large

As Chair of the County Council's Health and Human Services Committee and a member of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee, I have a deep understanding of the need to balance economic vitality and environmental sustainability. I'm proud that Montgomery County has maintained a strong economy and a high quality of life while preserving green and open spaces and agricultural land. This balance is why Montgomery County is such a successful and desirable community. I co-founded Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership that provides a living model of sustainability and a community-wide environmental ethic. Bethesda Green builds upon Montgomery County's strengths to create a green industry cluster that will generate economic, environmental and social value for the County's businesses and residents. Bethesda Green is the first green business incubator in the State of Maryland and provides support for small start-ups that could otherwise not afford their own space. Most of the funding has come from the private sector, leveraging very small investments of taxpayer dollars.

Hans Reimer
Democratic Candidate for Montgomery County Council at Large

Thank you for asking for my views on balancing economic vitality with environmental sustainability. Both are very high priorities for me and I have worked hard on their behalf.

One of the greatest strengths of Montgomery County is its diversity of neighborhoods. Residents in our county can choose to live in urban areas, suburban single family neighborhoods or in the farmland of the Agricultural Reserve. At the same time, residents need a robust economy to provide them with jobs and a tax base while we also do our part to protect drinking water, tree canopy, parks and green space. The best way to balance these priorities is to manage the growth of housing and jobs toward transit-accessible areas and away from environmentally sensitive watersheds. During my time on the council, I have voted to build more than 4,000 affordable housing units and 2.2 million square feet of commercial space near Metro and Purple Line stations in Glenmont, Chevy Chase Lake, Wheaton, Takoma-Langley and Long Branch. But I was also one of the architects of a plan to downzone development around Ten Mile Creek in Clarksburg, one of the state’s most pristine watersheds. I have voted for every pro-environment bill introduced at the County Council and against every anti-environment bill. We can have economic growth as well as a clean environment and if I am re-elected, I will pursue them both.

For Montgomery County Executive

Phil Andrews
Democratic Candidate for Montgomery County Executive

Addressing climate change by reducing our carbon footprint while also meeting the needs of an increasing population are compatible goals. Transit-oriented development helps address both goals by minimizing vehicle miles traveled and carbon emissions, protecting our Agricultural Reserve, and minimizing sprawl development.

Increasing transit capacity and service is also critical. I have long and strongly supported building the Purple Line between Bethesda and Silver Spring, and the Corridor Cities Transitway to connect Clarksburg, Germantown, Gaithersburg, and Rockville to the Shady Grove Metro. Rapid bus service on dedicated lines on roads like Rockville Pike, and Rt. 29 could help move more people on the same amount of pavement, helping avoid the need to build additional roads.

As County Executive, I will ensure that the County is purchasing all of its energy from clean, renewable sources and will convert our vehicle fleet wherever feasible from using dirty fuel to clean fuel. I will ensure that County buildings are built to meet cutting edge standards for energy conservation. I have long championed improvements to pedestrian and bicycle safety and access, and wrote the County law requiring that the County build in improvements for pedestrian and bicycle access and safety in all capital projects.

As a member of the County Council for sixteen years, I have pushed hard for measures to protect our outdoor and indoor environment, including being the chief sponsor of our County’s Smoke-free Restaurant law. I received the Green Bugle award from the Sierra Club, and have been endorsed by the Montgomery County Green Democrats for my environmental leadership, and am the only candidate for County Executive to receive a perfect score from the Action Committee for Transit.

Ike Leggett
Democratic Candidate for Montgomery County Executive

For the past seven years, I have been fortunate to serve as County Executive. To tackle the challenges of tomorrow, there is no better experience than having served in uncertain, difficult times. I reversed unsustainable County government spending increases that totaled 42 percent in the four years before I assumed office, and closed $2.7 billion in budget gaps during 7 years while protecting education, public safety, and help for the most vulnerable. Today, through my leadership, the county has the highest financial reserves in the history of the county and continues to maintain its AAA bond rating.

Under my leadership our county is creating economic vitality while also fostering environmental sustainability by fostering Smart Growth, and creating livable, walkable communities near transit. Examples include my Smart Growth Initiatives in the Shady Grove, White Oak, Great Seneca Science Corridor, and White Flint areas, all which will strengthen the County’s tax base by creating 100,000 new, high-quality jobs, while protecting sensitive environmental areas, such as Ten Mile Creek.
My investments in education, transportation and public safety are paying off. Our neighborhoods are safer than they were when I took office, with a 33 percent reduction in serious crime, and reduced emergency response times. I have also created over 12,000 affordable housing units.

Jim Shalleck
Republican Candidate for Montgomery County Executive

We must balance the need for vibrant economic growth and protecting the environment. The Agriculture Reserve must be protected because of its historical and environmental importance to our County. It is part of our tradition and heritage. In other parts of the County we must work together, developers and environmentalists, for the benefit of all of our residents. In that regard, I will create a public/private partnership between developers, environmentalists, and the county government to address these issues. This partnership will form an advisory working group to advise me on the issues that confront these, at times, competing interests. I do not like mandates on industry if they can be avoided. Often, mandates and rules will push developers to other jurisdictions. Certainly, we need strict rules against polluters. Working together, I believe, we can strike the necessary balance between development and environmental protection.

For Maryland Legislative District 17 Senate

Cheryl Kagan
Democratic Candidate for Maryland Legislative District 17 Senator

Balancing job growth with environmental sustainability is one of the most difficult challenges for any legislator. I do not, however, believe that they are mutually exclusive concepts. Promoting conservation efforts such as recycling and composting can play an important role in maintaining the environmental beauty of Montgomery County, and encouraging the use of green energy sources will actually grow our local economy. In 2008, I shifted my home to 100% wind energy provided by Clean Currents, and I recruited my friends, neighbors, and local businesses to do the same.

Additionally, mass transit will play a significant role in both economic development and environmental protection. The Purple Line and Bus Rapid Transit programs will lessen the strain on our transportation infrastructure and decrease automobile emissions at the same time. We need a Senator in Annapolis who will be able to secure transportation funding and work with colleagues to address the dynamic environmental and economic concerns facing Montgomery County. That’s why Governor Martin O’Malley, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and retiring Senator Jennie Forehand have endorsed me as the best choice for District 17.

Luiz Simmons
Democratic Candidate for Maryland Legislative District 17 Senator

I continue to support tax credits designed to encourage home owners to make home improvements and smart purchases to improve energy efficiency. This includes credits and rebates for energy audits, whole house air sealing, attic insulation, and duct sealing or replacement. Solar energy has become a tangible solution to rising electricity cost and carbon emissions. I am particularly interested in programs to encourage the use of solar panels and to protect the economic viability of the use of these panels to the home owner. We, in Rockville and Montgomery County, continue to stand up for green solutions which will ultimately and immeasurably improve the quality of our life and the environment.

For Maryland Legislative District 17 House of Delegates

Kumar Barve
Democratic Candidate for Maryland Legislative District 17 Delegate

There is no incompatibility between environmental sustainability, high material living standards and an excellent quality of life. In fact, these three are mutually reinforcing. How to accomplish this?

The first step is to reduce energy usage without impeding economic activity. I served on the Maryland Climate Change Working Group and we discovered that the fastest and cheapest way to reduce one's carbon footprint was recycling. Second, energy usage conservation. As the adage goes, the cheapest megawatt is the one you don't have to generate. Accordingly, I have supported or sponsored in the House of Delegates every policy that has sought to encourage recycling and energy conservation. All of these policies have avoided tax increases and additional spending.

The second step is to encourage development around existing modes of transportation, especially transit. As a member of the Ways & Means Committee I have supported this through local authority to create specific taxing districts to support transit oriented growth. I have also supported policies that encourage business formation near to federal institutions like the NIH and NIST and state education institutions like the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins. While this is primarily a function of local government, we in the state can do our part to help.

Third is renewable energy. I am the architect in Maryland of the "Renewable Energy Portfolio" standard concept. Simply put, this law requires that 20% of our electric power come from renewable sources of energy like wind and solar.

Finally, in my personal life, both my wife and I drive hybrid vehicles and purchase wind generated electricity provided by a Rockville Company - Clean Currents.

Kumar Barve graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Accounting and he is currently the CFO of an environmental business based in Rockville. He and his wife Maureen live in Gaithersburg. He is the Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates and serves and is a senior member of the Ways & Means Committee.

Susan Hoffmann
Democratic Candidate for Maryland Legislative District 17 Delegate

I raised the environment and climate change to the forefront of Rockville's agenda, as never before, and led the fight for environmentally sensitive policies, including reducing the city’s carbon footprint. The new refuse and recycling system I fought to implement in 2007 has resulted in nearly doubling the city's recycling stream. I pioneered financial incentives for green design and environmentally sensitive building renovations, and established the Rockville Environmental Excellence Award. I cultivated county and state support to fund the 'round Rockville shopper shuttle so that residents can take transit when they need to go to Town Center. I led the way on innovative storm-water management infrastructure and waterway restoration, increases in the use of renewable resources by the city, anti-sprawl, pro-pedestrian/bicyclist development standards, and increases in non-automobile transportation modes through biking options and pedestrian-friendly Complete Streets programs.

I continue to be concerned that our middle and working class is losing its foothold on the path to the American Dream. I believe that Maryland must be supportive of small businesses, particularly those employers who are committed to investing in District 17 and Montgomery County's workforce. I will work to keep biotech, life sciences and cybersecurity jobs in Gaithersburg and Rockville. And I am committed to reversing Maryland's anti-business reputation by improving turnaround time for permits, along with green lighting the kinds of businesses Maryland wishes to attract. As a delegate, I will lead in the fight to make Maryland competitive with nearby states.

Laurie-Anne Sayles
Democratic Candidate for Maryland Legislative District 17 Delegate

Laurie-Anne Sayles has over 10 years of experience in the Public Health sector so she understands how important our environment is to our health and quality of life. As your next Delegate, Laurie-Anne will work hard to fund the necessary transportation infrastructures to handle our diverse needs while making sure that protecting our environment is a top priority.

Rockville’s influx of new residents speaks to the economic opportunities available in the area. But as our population grows and adds more strain on your environment, we must be even more vigilant about protecting that environment. Addressing transportation issues is one way to tackle the balancing act between our local economy and environment. While advocating for transportation solutions that attract businesses and encourage job growth, I will work to reduce the traffic, and thereby, the pollution in our air, by supporting options that decrease the number of cars on our roads. As Rockville promotes environmentally friendly alternatives, such as bike riding, among its residents, I will work to protect bikers and pedestrians by promoting bike lanes and walking paths.

Filed under Around Town, Other environmental

Login to add a comment.  Forgot your password?  Need an account?

Your email: Password: