Democracy and Participatory Policymaking
Through this campaign and in office, I want to bring participatory policy making to Montgomery County: engaging community members at the decision-making table, not just the listening table or the questions and concerns table. I believe that community members must be centered as we define the problems our communities are facing, prioritize and set our legislative agenda, develop legislation, monitor implementation, and evaluate the results. I am also committed to centering the voices of people of color, immigrants, poor and working people, LGBTQIA+ people, women, seniors, and young people – those who are often missing or marginalized at the decision-making table, but who are most directly and severely affected by the issues the County Council addresses.
Justice, Equity, and Inclusion
Montgomery County is beautifully diverse in its people and geography with more than 1 million residents who make our communities unique. The issues facing our neighbors cut across region, class, and identity, and those issues and their solutions will require deliberate inclusivity and intersectionality to bring our shared visions together.
Brandy believes that democracy works best when we all have a voice. Share your idea for making Montgomery County work for all our neighbors.
As your Councilmember, my goal is:
- To make our shared visions a reality by centering justice, equity, and inclusion in how we develop policy, govern, and approach community problems.
- To embrace and celebrate our diversity while addressing the inequities across all government sectors and service areas.
- To advance community-driven solutions and community policymaking to better reflect the needs of all residents, not just the well-connected.
- To implement new ways for community input and feedback that meet people where they are and bring more residents into the conversation.
An Economy for All Our Neighbors
Healthcare for All
Montgomery County is a center of healthcare innovation. We should lead the fight to make sure that every single member of our community can receive the full range of medical services including vision, dental, mental, gender affirming, reproductive and sexual, and other forms of care they need regardless of their background, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability, pre-existing conditions, income, or immigration status.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the frailty of an employment-based insurance system during a dual public health and economic crisis. BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color), immigrant, and low income communities face huge disparities in access and quality of care; and members of our LGTBQIA community have to travel long distances to receive gender affirming or culturally competent care.
Healthcare is a human right. We must continue the fight for a universal single-payer system in Maryland (and across the United States). Our county government, through both public services and not for profit community initiatives, will play a critical role in fighting the current disparities in care and health outcomes. We can can increase access to care for working class communities, especially immigrant communities and communities of color, to ensure they are able to get the care they need.
Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College are among two of our county’s greatest assets. In coalition with our teachers, parents, students, support staff, and communities we can continue to use them to expand opportunity to all of our residents regardless of neighborhood, background, or income.
There are large disparities in opportunity and outcomes in our schools by race, zip code, and income that have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Too often, county leaders on the council do not engage in difficult conversations around education policy, arguing that those policies should be left up solely to MCPS and the Board of Education. Access to pre-school education, daycare, college and job training programs is becoming increasingly limited by income.
Working with educators, support staff, parents, and students, and their communities we can tackle gaps in opportunities and outcomes for our children. This includes a main responsibility of the Council to fund public education but also to work collaboratively to address the needs of students, educators, and parents. We must support lifelong learning and job training for every person in our county while making all of our educational institutions incredible places to work.
Equitable Economic Development
Our economic development strategy must prioritize investing in good paying jobs, family-sustaining and helping start and grow local small, especially BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color), immigrant, women-owed, and cooperative businesses.
Economic subsidies are targeted at the wealthiest investors, multinational corporations and large developers with subpar records of retaining good paying jobs. Local small and cooperative businesses are pressured out by rising rents and often miss out on county assistance and grant programs intended to help them flourish.
It’s time to invest in our local business, workers, and entrepreneurs. We can be a Montgomery County that invests and reinvests in the growth of small and cooperative businesses, especially those businesses owned by women, immigrants, and people of color, that keep and build wealth in our community and provide excellent family-sustaining employment for our residents. I will advocate for affordable spaces for new enterprises and organizations to innovate and grow; and developing clearly targeted and transparent incentives that are easier for every business to access.
Worker’s Rights, Unions, and Family-Sustaining Jobs
For too many people in our region, including in our own county, wages are stagnant, and access to affordable housing and medical care is getting farther and farther out of reach. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how critical many essential, yet underpaid, workers are to keep our communities running.
A harmful economic myth still dominates our political conversation that paying workers a living wage and ensuring they have adequate benefits to support themselves and their families is too expensive for businesses and even our own government.
Every worker in our county deserves a living wage, benefits, and dignity on the job and in retirement. We need to empower our county workforce and those employees whose positions receive county funding to be able to live and work in Montgomery County. We must partner with our local businesses and the labor movement to ensure good-family sustaining jobs for all of our residents.
You can read how I am living my values of supporting workers’s rights and democracy in the workplace by voluntarily recognizing my staff organizing with the Campaign Workers Guild and bargaining a contract governing wages, benefits, and working conditions for my employees. Read more here.
Fair, Inclusive, & Affordable Housing
Over 1 million people call Montgomery County home, but we shouldn’t pay a premium to do so. Working families at every income level should have the ability to move into, live, raise and care for their family, and retire in quality, permanently affordable housing in well-planned, transit-connected communities.
Too many residents need to choose between quality housing, affordability, and long sprawling commutes to get where they want to go. We have seen a loss of affordable housing, threatening the ability of our neighbors to stay in this county. The cost of housing often exceeds 30-50% of the monthly income for senior and low income residents, endangering their ability to buy groceries, pay for medicine, or go to the doctor.
On the Council, planning for the near and long-term future of our county will be a critical function.
High quality integrated and affordable housing, whether one owns or rents, as a human right. When we expand or build new developments, every home should be part of a complete community near parks, schools, grocery stores, businesses, employment, services, and public spaces linked by a robust public transportation system.
National, state, and local policy has long neglected our neighbors who rent their homes rather than own. We need to economically empower renters’ households to be able to stay in our community in safe, quality housing that they can afford.
Even before the national eviction crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, too many renters were housing insecure, and faced the threat of homelessness. Higher rents leave families with less money to save or spend in our community. Many tenants live in unsafe, unhealthy conditions while paying some of the highest rents in the region. Families cannot find rental options that comfortably meet their needs.
As a longtime advocate for tenants’ rights and a fellow renter in the county, I will strengthen county policy so every renter can expect quality, safe housing and stabilized cost. And while we continue to recover from the pandemic, I will fight for continued resources to stop evictions and provide rent relief to tenants and landlords.
A County Centered on Transit and a Livable Planet
Land Use Planning
Montgomery County has incredible urban, suburban, and rural areas thanks to forward thinking planning. We need to make sure that our land uses provide quality, affordable housing near transit rather than expand the poorly planned sprawl that worsens traffic congestion.
Short-term development has led to sprawling, unwalkable neighborhoods disconnected from transit, congested streets with longer commutes for working families, overcapacity in our schools and public services, and housing that is deeply segregated by race and income.
I believe in connected communities. A county planned for all of our communities to flourish. Liveable neighborhoods – with gathering spaces, community-serving retail, fresh produce from neighborhood farms, schools, offices and other amenities within walking distance from where we live.
Green New Deal for Montgomery County
Human-made climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. It is presents all of us with an opportunity for broad transformation towards a just society if we take our environmental emergency seriously.
As we have already seen, we know that extreme heat, flooding and displacement are going to get worse due to our emissions of greenhouse gases. We have a heavily polluting economy, where a wealthy few get richer as too many families lack the basic resources they need to survive.
We must embrace a zero carbon economy rooted is sustainable use of our resources to make sure the needs of every community member are met. Invest and fully fund education and skills training to place members of our community in good paying union roles in climate adaptation and resilience, renewable energy, transportation, conservation, local food systems, and social services.
Our county should take comprehensive action to minimize the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, incinerators, neighborhoods, parks, forests, and waterways. We should take leadership in reducing the sources of consumer waste, while diverting a maximal amount of refuse from traditional garbage to organic diversion like anaerobic digestion or composting, and other repurposing recycling.
Plastics, styrofoam, and other materials pollute our land, soil, air, and water when they end up in landfills, burnt in an incinerator, or as litter. Workers in waste management face unsafe working conditions and low wages.
Our residents deserve clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. We can be a county where waste is minimized and we have robust systems of resource recovery, clean streets, natural spaces, and waterways and workers in the recovery system are fairly compensated and have safety and dignity on the job.
Connected Transit & Transportation
Montgomery County needs an enhanced transportation network to address the lengthy commutes and inaccessibility of travel faced by our residents. With proper investment, our transit network can fundamentally improve the quality of life for our residents of every background and income level by helping them get where they need to go quickly and affordably.
Many of our residents find it difficult or impossible to travel without a single passenger vehicle, or find themselves in long waits caused by traffic congestion or delayed public transit. Transportation is the leading section in county greenhouse gas emissions and car-based design is a major contributor to waterway pollution.
I will advocate for public transit that enhances the ability of every member of our community to quickly get to and from their home, family, work, community, arts and culture, nightlife, faith communities, school. We need well-connected communities that allow for safe, efficient travel by foot, wheel, bike, bus, or rail.
An Inclusive and Just Montgomery County for All
Supporting LGBTQIA+ Rights
Montgomery County cherishes its identity as a progressive community. We must make sure that our rhetoric of support is backed up by policies that advance the well being of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Nonconforming and Queer community.
Those who face marginalization due to their identity or orientation need to feel safe, welcome, and heard throughout their work and social life in Montgomery County. In addition, homelessness among LGBTQIA+ teens remains an issue in our region. Many Queer individuals in our community have trouble find competent mental healthcare and other medical care.
I will advocate and advance policies to ensure our county a place where all of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer siblings can live safely and thrive without fear of discrimination in housing, employment, or education, and easy access to all of the services they need to flourish.
Disability and building a more inclusive county intersects with every part of our political and community life. Blind, Deaf, and other community members with physical, mental, or sensory impairments should have the full ability to participate and access Montgomery County services and resources.
Access to housing, legal services, employment, education, and other critical facets of our community are limited by design that does not take into account the diverse needs of people with disabilities.
I will work to make sure we are a county that centers the ideas and feedback of differently-abled members of our community in the design and implementation of policy with rigorous enforcement of nondiscrimination measures.
Montgomery County is an incredibly diverse community with over four in ten of our residents speaking a language other than English at home. To ensure our county is truly inclusive, we must make sure that language is not an insurmountable barrier to participation.
Language barriers threaten the ability of county residents to access critical services, ensure due process under the law, and participate in our political decision making process.
As I have done throughout my campaign, I will advocate for language support for all public Council meetings and events. We deserve a county where every member of our community is able to easily stay informed about community news, government programs, and opportunities, and participate in the local decision-making processes that shape our lives.
Montgomery County, the state of Maryland, and the United States were built on lands of Indigenous people like the Piscataway Indians. Human chattel slavery of African people existed here legally until 1864 and we are still learning the extent of historic and present discrimination in this county. We must learn from the past, and center racial justice in our politics and policy if we want to achieve our goal of liberty and justice for all.
In nearly every part of life, race affects the experience of our residents. Housing is still dramatically segregated, with many low income communities of color struggling against displacement and gentrification. Educational and occupational outcomes vary drastically by race and ethnicity. We see that minority communities have been disproportionately targeted by so-called “tough on crime” policies, and trust in our government has been eroded by disparate treatment in policing.
I will bring my experience and knowledge from working on racial equity in Montgomery County and across the United States to analyze and promote policies that dismantle systemic injustice and lift up marginalized communities. We can be a county where everyone has equitable and just experiences, outcomes, and access to resources and opportunities regardless of race. Policy decisions are made with attention towards historic patterns of exploitation.
Public Safety & Accountable Law Enforcement
Public safety is about public health. We know that low income communities, especially communities of color suffer the most harm from violence and property crimes. Public safety is not the sole responsibility of any single department or agency but must be advanced with evidence-based solutions by supporting well-connected communities with quality public services and resources. The erosion of confidence in our government caused by episodes of police misconduct makes it harder to address the root causes of violence.
Many of our residents fear violent confrontations with police and violence within their communities. Resources at every level of government are still misused in a system of mass incarceration that makes us less safe, rather than investing in community needs. When community members are unwilling to report crime or ask for help because they worry that the consequences will be devastating or deadly, all of us are less safe.
I am committed to creating fully resourced communities with a holistic approach to public safety that centers the de-escalation of violence and the provision of essential services. Prioritizing police resources dedicated towards violent crime, rather than nonviolent offenses, and swift accountability for misconduct.
We must shift the culture and practice of policing in our county so that it is based on community relationships and trust. Too many people in our county fear interactions with the police – particularly communities of color, immigrant communities, and residents with disabilities or with mental health needs.
Montgomery County would not be the incredible community it is today without nearly one-third of our people who were born in another country. We will continue to fight for Montgomery County to be a welcoming place for all of our neighbors, regardless of country of birth or immigration status.
Many of our immigrant neighbors lack a formal voice in our political process, others live in fear of deportation and family separation, and lack access to critical services offered by the state of Maryland and the Federal government.
I am committed to creating a Montgomery County where all of our immigrant neighbors have a say in our political process, can easily access the programs they need to thrive, and we are able to continually welcome new neighbors into our community from around the world.
Today and everyday, we must affirm the basic human right of a person to have children or not have children. As attacks on abortion rights intensify across the country, Montgomery County must lead the country in expanding access to reproductive health care.
Reproductive rights and abortion access are under the most severe legal attack in a generation, causing many to seek Maryland and Montgomery County as a refugee for care. For too many in Montgomery county, timely, convenient access to the full spectrum of reproductive care is limited by transit access, access to paid leave and childcare, and financial costs tied to uninsurance and underinsurance.
I support a persons’ right to control their own body. We should be a county where consent and healthy relationships are taught as the norm. We must address race and class disparities in infant mortality through expanding access to services for expectant parents and those seeking reproductive care from outside our county.
Democracy, Fair Elections, & Collaborative Governance
Democracy is more than casting a vote every two or four years, it is a continuous process of engaging every person in our community in the decisions that shape our very way of life. Zip code, class, income, language, ability, race, religion, ethnicity, or other identities should not impact the equal ability of our community members to participate in our most important civic processes.
Attacks on basic voting rights and participation continue around the country, large contributions from wealthy individuals and corporate interests dominate our political system. Many people remain unengaged in our elections and even more are unaware of the policy debates taking place in our county. Our current voting systems have also limited the voice of voters and create elections where the voices of a few determine the representation for all.
Civic participation is how we hold leaders accountable and make our voices heard. We must continue to make government meetings accessible and prevent furthering the digital divide that can occurs with virtual events.
I am proud to be a fair elections candidate and I want to make it easy for all of our community members to participate in the democratic process. We must ensure voting is accessible through early voting, vote by mail, and same day registration for in-person voting. We can increase engagement, especially in historically underrepresented communities, and support our campaign finance system that makes it possible for every voter to have their voice heard and to even run for office without large contributions or self-financing. I will support improved voting methods like ranked choice voting and work to incorporate the recommendations of our county commissions and boards into related policy decisions.
You read more about how I have effectively organized small donors and utilized our public elections fund, while rejecting corporate and PAC donations here.