Duncan proposes increased education aid -- Gazette.Net


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In contrast to Montgomery leaders who will keep education spending static in 2014, county executive candidate Douglas M. Duncan called for greater schools funding Wednesday.

Predicting the status quo to fail under enrollment pressure, Duncan (D) called for a “very large infusion of funds,” and multiyear commitment from state, county and education leaders to build new schools.

“It is time to come together,” he said.

The Washington Post reported that enrollment at Montgomery County Public Schools is expected to increase about 10,000 in the next six years.

The former county executive envisioned a renewed partnership with the state to tackle growing student enrollment.

Duncan is working to get his old job back, campaigning against County Executive Isiah Leggett, who announced June 11 that he was seeking a third term. County Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg also is seeking the position.

Over the coming months, Duncan said he will release “specific proposals to make the county the best place to live, to work and to raise a family.”

Duncan addressed old and new supporters at a breakfast meeting in North Bethesda.

“Because the county that we love is changing, and to meet the new challenges, we have to change with it,” Duncan said. “To prepare Montgomery County for the future we must marry new ideas with the age-old principles of hard work and working together.”

Duncan promised a plan for school construction that will unfold with his campaign, where transportation is also a focus.

In his last campaign for executive, Duncan ran to end the gridlock that plagued county roads.

Yet the Washington region remains the most congested in the nation according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2012 Urban Mobility Report.

Montgomery needs an “all of the above” approach to its transportation conundrum that includes more transit, bike trails, and lane capacity, Duncan said.

Duncan may be Montgomery’s past, having served three terms as executive from 1994-2006, but supporters believe he is also the future.

“All his ideas were fresh ideas,” said David M. Bailey, an activist with the Democratic Party who has worked on past campaigns for Duncan. “Doug was the best county executive we’ve had. I’m pleased to back him again.”

But ideas without leadership are idle chatter, Duncan said.

Richard Parsons, who ran Duncan’s 1998 campaign for executive, said Duncan can provide that leadership.

“Doug is a leader and Doug has gotten things done that will continue to bring dividends to this county for years to come,” Parsons said. “We have the potential to be so much more than we are economically, to be so much stronger.”

Metaphorically, Northern Virginia has been beating up Montgomery, stealing its lunch money on the economic front, Parsons said, and Duncan’s record shows the former executive can end it.

“This is not a theoretical discussion. Just look at what he accomplished,” Parsons said, detailing Silver Spring’s revitalization, the construction of the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda and the jail in Clarksburg, all accomplished under Duncan.

Still, if the election remains a debate of ideas, Parsons said no matter who comes out on top, the county will win.



kalexander@gazette.net