As a young child, I remember visiting a Narragansett Indian Reservation and learning that the Indians, in every action, thought about their impact seven generations ahead. Their spirituality in protecting Mother Earth and its tremendous resources and gifts were essential to their existence. We too must get this, but we need to apply the Seven Generation rule to more than just the environment. The County Council plays a pivotal role in protecting our resources while striking the balance of growth which is essential to the success of our community. So what does this mean to me in action? First, let me outline my fundamental guiding principles if elected as your next Councilman.
1.) Fiscal Responsibility – This means that we live within our means, making choices, so that we don’t continue down the path of being a County just for the wealthy. The politician that says “Yes!” to every request, racking up every endorsement, is bankrupting our children’s future. We must make decisions factoring in the impact on Seniors who are on fixed incomes. We need to consider teachers, firefighters, and police who can’t afford to live in the county they serve. We must protect families (i.e. not have the County contribute to financial pressures) in all income classes so we can maintain the principles that make our County great.
2.) Open, Honest, Collective Dialogue– Too often in this County we are not having discussions incorporating our entire community. Diversity in ideas is essential to make sure the best concepts rise to the top on our priorities. We can’t do everything, so to prioritize requires an open and direct conversation, and making the hard decisions together.
Our community priorities have been clearly articulated by citizens as I knock on doors throughout the district. Protect everyone in the County by exercising fiscal discipline, protect our schools from overcrowding (redistricting) and continue to invest in education (prepare for school infrastructure investments estimated at over $200 million and protect pension commitments to our teachers). That is our starting point. To do this, we have significant hurdles to overcome. In all of this discussion and dialogue we must strike a balance. Tough decisions will have to be made in advancing the above priorities:
- Rain Tax/Stormwater Management Fee: This is a state imposed mandate which the County must deal with whether we like it or not. However, when the County takes in excess revenue (over $45 million in the previous year) like it did in prior years why are we not allocating it to this mandate? Instead we ADDED a tax on citizens and businesses instead of absorbing this mandate in the general budget. This is because the current County leadership has a wealthy county mindset. Some Small businesses have told me that their Rain Tax bill ranges from 6 to 15 thousand dollars. Support of the READY program (rain gardens built by our kids) is a noble cause and in my opinion needs to be preserved. We need to teach our kids the importance of storm water management so they make decisions as the Indians did, anticipating the impact seven generations forward.
- Environmental development waivers: Current elected officials like to take credit for the thousands of tiny trees they have planted, yet they don’t outline the thousands of large established trees they have authorized to be torn down. A thousand saplings do not equal even one large established tree. The plantings are a panacea used by politicians to excuse them from permitting environmental clear-cuts. We must preserve the sound environmental standards we have in place today. Erosion fences that are overwhelmed by every rainstorm and token plantings are not sufficient. We need to enforce what we have in place. This is an easy common sense approach to limiting run off, protecting our streams and the Chesapeake Bay. We must mean what we say.
- Alternative Energy: We must be thinking constantly about moving to energy independence. It is in our national security interests. We need to evaluate and encourage alternative energy resources for the preservation of our County and our own needs. Do we have sufficient water and farming resources for our community and the growth we are planning for? Do we have programs in place to encourage the use of solar/wind/water energy? How can we encourage thinking outside the ordinary? We need to think as the Indians did. These topics have to be part of the conversation.
We have much to plan for and many tough decisions to make. I care deeply about the environment and the protection of our most precious resources. People want the government to make sweeping changes and to ‘solve’ the problem. We have to remember that it starts with us. In my home we practice this. We recycle. We have two large rotating compost piles that kitchen and yard scraps, leaves and grass fill up quickly. We have a native perennial garden and a big herb garden. We do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We are teaching our kids that these things are important, just as our parents taught us. These are small steps, but if everyone takes them, it has a huge impact, one more far reaching than any government mandate.
I look forward to having this conversation together, because together I believe we will make the right decisions in protecting our priorities. I look forward to choosing Common Ground with you if you decide to elect me on November 4th.