The Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund is a grassroots community organization that is working toward a Montgomery County where everyone has what they need to live and thrive, where all our residents live in dignity and have a voice in democracy, and where our government focuses on the well-being of all residents and in particular the needs of those who are most vulnerable.

 

We believe that racism against residents of color, whether explicit in the form of hate speech and violence or implicit in oppressive structures, policies, and barriers, is a key element threading through every issue our County faces. As Jews, we are called by our history and the teachings of our tradition to not stand idly by as this injustice persists, but to be actively engaged in changing the dynamics of power in our County.

 

We work in coalition with trusted partners to advance key issue campaigns informed by our commitment to ending all forms of oppression and making real improvements in people’s lives. We work with elected officials to craft policy, and with our grassroots community to hold those elected officials accountable to their commitments. We also make endorsements of candidates aligned with this vision who are ready to win elected office and take bold leadership.

 

This is the questionnaire we distributed to candidates in the 2018 Montgomery County Democratic primary races for County Council and County Executive, including detailed explanations of our priorities for the next four years.

Your Priorities

 

  1. What are your top three priorities and specific proposals for how to achieve those priorities?

 

  1. How do your priorities and proposals address the structural inequities, especially those that impact people of color, that exist in Montgomery County?

 

Our Communities’ Priorities

 

  1. A Budget is a Moral Document

How we spend our money as a community says a lot about our values. The County is facing a $120 million budget shortfall. In response, the current County Council and County Executive are making cuts across all County agencies, including funding for schools and safety net programs. At the same time, Montgomery County has committed $22 million of our taxpayer money to subsidize Marriott’s new Bethesda headquarters, and Governor Hogan has offered a joint state/local $5 billion package to bring Amazon to Montgomery County in a proposal that includes little transparency or protections for working people. We are increasingly concerned that as budgets tighten, our County’s leadership will prioritize businesses over people and splashy headlines over protecting programs that benefit children and working families. If you are elected, what will your budget say about you and your values? Would you raise additional revenue, and if so, by what means? When you have to make cuts, how will you determine the best way to make those cuts? How do we ensure that we don’t balance our budget on the backs of Montgomery County’s most vulnerable residents?

 

  1. $15 Minimum Wage is Necessary, but not Sufficient

Minimum wage in Montgomery County is going up to $15 an hour and that’s a good thing. However, with a growing population of working poor and working class families, including disproportionately high percentages of women and people of color, we still need to do more to ensure working people in Montgomery County earn a decent living. Will you champion “fair scheduling” legislation to ensure hourly employees get their schedules in advance so they can make plans for transportation, childcare, and education? Will you support legislation that requires employers to offer part-time employees additional hours before they hire new employees, with the goal of turning part-timers into full-timers who have full-time benefits and don’t need to work multiple jobs just to get by?

 

  1. Early Care and Education that Works for Kids and Parents

One of the hardest parts of parenting young children is finding childcare that meets the needs of children and working parents. It is a challenge for families of all income levels, but the challenges become almost insurmountable for lower-income families. Barriers include the high cost of care, lack of evening and weekend options for those who must work multiple jobs or night shifts, and disparity in availability of care across the County, especially care that is close to public transportation. County government, nonprofits, and business leaders – not to mention parents – all agree that providing quality, affordable care and education for infants and young children is a priority, especially to support families who are struggling to make ends meet while also preparing their children for school success. But so far the funding isn’t there to take bold action. What is your proposal, including funding sources, to ensure that all kids from 0-5 get the care and education they need and deserve?

 

  1. Trust and Safety for All Residents

 

Montgomery County prides itself on being a diverse community and a safe home for all residents, but with ICE targeting our neighbors and tearing families apart, immigrants in our County are living every day in fear. Will you commit to supporting a “Community Trust” ordinance, like the one enacted in Rockville, that prevents local agencies from engaging in civil immigration enforcement? Will you support the funding being requested by the MoCo Deportation Defense Coalition to ensure legal representation for Montgomery County residents facing deportation, so people aren’t deported just because they can’t afford a lawyer?

 

  1. Housing is a Human Right

Too many County residents struggle to find dignified housing that they can afford. Clarence Snuggs, the director of Montgomery County’s Department of Housing & Community Affairs, has said we need 50,000 new units of housing that are priced for poor and working-class residents, and that the County can only offer “million dollar solutions to a billion dollar problem.” Councilmember Riemer and Councilmember Floreen recently proposed bills that make changes to Montgomery County’s Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU) program. What is your position on those bills (34-17 and 38-17)? What do you think are the most impactful provisions and do you have areas of concern? Beyond MPDUs, what else do you propose to address the needed 50,000 homes, both rental and owner-occupied, and especially homes that are large enough for families?

 

  1. Transportation that Prioritizes People, not Cars

The people in our County need to be able to get where we’re going through many modes of transit – walking, biking, public transit, and also cars. Healthy communities are moving toward holistic and inclusive transportation that makes it easy to get around in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, Governor Hogan believes that the solution to all transportation challenges is to build more roads. How will you approach making transit affordable and reliable for the benefit and well-being of the people who live in our County? How do you plan to ensure that the Purple Line will benefit and not displace the working-class and immigrant communities that live nearby?

 

Thank you! We appreciate your time and participation in this process.