I have spent significant time over the last few months with several Montgomery County Council candidates.
So far, I’ve been quite impressed, in one way or another, with each candidate. As I mentioned in previous articles, the smorgasbord of talent – just take your pick – will definitively offer Montgomery County voters real, tangible choices in the upcoming election.
The Council candidates I’ve met are squarely focused on education, infrastructure, economic growth, bringing jobs to the County, affordable housing, public transit, and more.
Allow me for just a moment to write parenthetically.
I don’t have that political ooze gene in my body. People working in politics or who have been around politics for a while can pick at least one unctuous fanboy or girl who nauseatingly grovels over this candidate or that one, believing that he or she is the second coming, here to save us from ourselves, changing the world one revolutionary speech after another.
Perhaps I am a habitual pessimist – because I’ve been lied to by one too many politicians. I guess you could say my tolerance for political bullshit has reached its limit.
I’m sad to report that I’ve grown much too cynical to be excited about almost – any – political candidate or politician. Candidates, public officials, and politicians are normal people – just like us. I refuse to believe that any political candidate or politician is ordained by Providence to save the world. I don’t believe in political rockstars; most of those people are completely full of shit.
Just for a moment, however, I want to write about Montgomery County Council At-Large candidate Bill Conway – not as a political blogger or political analyst and not even as a journalist, but rather, I’m writing to my readers on a human level. I’ll jump heavy into policy in subsequent articles. Just for a moment, now, I’m writing as Ryan the citizen – straight from the heart.
If you visit Bill Conway’s campaign website you’ll learn that he and his lovely wife, Diana (the Yang to Bill’s Ying) are longtime Montgomery County political and civic activists. You’ll learn that Bill has spent his career as an attorney both in the public and private sector. You’ll learn that he worked as counsel for U.S senators. And you’ll learn that Bill is an expert in the electric power industry.
A website, though, can only tell you so much about a person running for office. And while Bill’s website is informative – it lists his issue positions quite succinctly – you won’t glean from his website alone that Bill is one of the most fundamentally decent, intellectually curious, refreshingly honest and genuinely honorable human beings you’ll meet in your lifetime.
Here are some other reasons why I believe Bill will be a formidable Councilman:
- His Bus Rapid Transit idea is one piece of the puzzle to improve public transportation. He supports the Purple Line and he’ll work to address the traffic congestion issues in Upper Montgomery County.
- Bill has convinced me he’ll be a friend to small businesses, and he’s not going to support excessive regulations that could dissuade entrepreneurs from choosing Montgomery County to set up shop here and create some decent jobs.
- Eastern Montgomery County is lacking in job growth. Bill supports the White Oak Science Gateway project, which is a good start.
- Bill’s plan(s) to address the chronic shortage of low and moderate-income housing through public-private partnerships is a noble policy goal.
- Bill will stand with our Montgomery County immigrant community and will oppose Donald Trump’s foolish and ill-conceived immigration policies. But Bill will not reject support from people who voted for Trump (which is vitally important when reaching across the proverbial political aisle). Bill is a consensus builder; he’ll find common ground with anyone looking to improve the functionality of County government – regardless of their political party.
- Education is my number-one concern in County government. We have two kids in Montgomery County Public Schools. We’re pleased with their education plan and journey thus far. And we expect our local leaders to take education seriously. Kim and I drilled Bill on his education platform. He definitely shares our policy goals. County schools are overcrowded; teachers require more control over their classrooms; our standards are a mess and parents are begging for more choice and control over their kids’ education. Bill will collaborate in tandem with our Board of Education and state legislators to mitigate school overcrowding and ensure every Montgomery County Public School student has an equal and equitable chance at receiving the best education possible in some of the country’s finest public schools.
- Bill knows a lot about the environment and environmental policy – much more than I do. Bill is committed to protecting our natural resources. His ideas on how County government can utilize solar energy should be further considered.
- Bill, like me, is a self-described policy wonk who, also like me, enjoys unspooling the nitty-gritty details of zoning, development, land usage, and planning. He is a nuts and bolts kind of guy in that he thinks like an engineer and follows up like a journalist.
- Like me, Bill is a staunch proponent of criminal justice reform. We need to approach policing, together, as a community. Tom Manger’s policing strategy is working well in Montgomery County, and Bill recognizes that policing techniques are always changing. Change requires rapid adaptation. Moreover, Bill is ready to tackle the opioid and addiction crisis. It’s time to drop the stigma around drug abuse and get serious about how we address addiction treatment. I am quite content that Bill supports the County’s Mental Health Courts. Finally, Bill has worked to reform our criminal justice system, providing legal representation to offenders applying for clemency.
Bill’s campaign theme is “Finding Common Ground.” To me – and others, I presume – as I understand it, means that Bill is dedicated to listening to all viewpoints before making decisions that affect 1.1 million people. Pragmatism and humility are traits often missing in our elected officials and candidates. You’ll find Bill Conway is the exception to the rule.
Montgomery County government is functioning well, but there is much room for improvement. Thoughtful, practical, engaged and humble leaders like Bill Conway will lead with integrity, vision, and passion.
I encourage readers of A Miner Detail to connect with Bill (and Diana) and get to know more about him and his ideas for Montgomery County.