Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Gazette Candidate Profile

The Gazette does a great job educating its readers about their options in local elections, especially with their candidate profiles. I've re-printed mine below, or you can check out the original.

As president of the Montgomery County Council in 2010, Nancy Floreen watched the toll that the country’s economic crisis took on the county.

It seemed as if every week brought another phone call from the state telling her that it would be sending less revenue to the county, Floreen (D-At Large) of Garrett Park said.

The recession was a “very jarring experience” for the council, she said.

But if you’re honest about challenges that need to be confronted, people will accept that, she said.

It was a formative experience for members who served at that time, Floreen said.

Only Council President Craig L. Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown and Councilman Hans Riemer (D-At Large) of Takoma Park, both elected in 2010, were not on the council then.

Elected officials learn the most about people in hard times, and the council was faced with making deep cuts to many programs that members valued, she said.

Now, as the economy slowly recovers, the council faces a time when “not so many lines have to be drawn in the sand,” she said.

Floreen said one lesson she took away from the recession was the need to grow the county’s economic base and rely less on federal government jobs to provide work for residents.

Before being elected to the council in 2002, Floreen was the mayor of Garrett Park. She also served on the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission from 1986 to 1994.

She is one of six Democrats running in the June 24 primary for four spots in the Nov. 4 general election. Four Republicans also are running, along with one Green Party member.

Floreen said she ran for council in 2002 because she was frustrated with county delays in building the Intercounty Connector highway, an issue she understood because of her background in land use policy.

Floreen said she sees jobs and dealing with the county’s growing diversity as two issues the next council will face.

Improving the economic climate to fill empty office and retail centers around the county needs to be a priority, she said. Also, the county needs to provide local jobs to keep its tax base sustainable.

Most residents don’t appreciate the depth of the economic and ethnic diversity that has come to the county the past 10 years, Floreen said.

As recently as 10 to 15 years ago, Montgomery used to be “pretty lily-white,” but that has changed, she said.

Part of the challenge for the council is to get those new residents involved in the civic process. Constituents probably go to their district council representatives first to deal with a problem, Floreen said.

But even as an at-large member representing an entire county of more than 1 million residents, she said, her office tries to be responsive to everyone who calls.

She also attends a wide variety of functions to get a feel for the problems residents are dealing with.

“I rack up a lot of miles on my car,” she said.

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