Councilmember-Elect Will Jawando

Councilmember-Elect Will Jawando finished in third place (268,131 votes, 18.69 percent) in the general election in his third run for public office.

Jawando had previously run for state delegate in District 20 (2014) and the Congressional primary in the Eighth District (2016).

“It’s really just the basic desire to want to help improve the lives of my neighbors and also the community that I grew up in and owe a lot to,” Jawando said about wanting to serve in office. “That’s why I also became a lawyer. It’s why I’ve also worked in government and in nonprofits. It’s kind of a core motivator for me.”

Prior to the primary earlier this year, Jawando was one of the many candidates who responded to a questionnaire from Source of the Spring that asked contestants why they were running, as well as about policies and programs they would pursue to expand the county’s tax base.

In a recent interview with the Source, Jawando revisited some of those answers in light of the fact that he would now be serving on the council. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

On improving educational opportunities and “wrap-around” services:

“Kids come to school with a whole bunch [of issues] attached to them, whether it be the impact of poverty, or living in a single-parent household, or having issues with housing instability. . .Wrap-around services seek to supplement some of those kind of things, whether it be after-school programs because Mom or Dad is working two jobs and can’t be there to pick them up, or whether it be before-school programs or help with child care or additional food resources in the school summer feeding program. . .[they’re] not available to everybody or commensurate with the level of need that we have. . .I know every kid can learn given a great opportunity. . . [and] that’s a core function of government.”

On affordable housing:

“‘Affordable’ means different things to different people, but I think across the spectrum, whether you’re a college student coming back in and trying to live here. . .or whether you’re a family of four who’s looking housing for your growing family, or you’re a senior citizen who’s retiring and wants to stay in the community you helped build, it is increasing difficult to do that because of costs. . .You lower the cost of housing by having more housing, and particularly by having it near transit. Not only does that help with traffic and congestion, because people can live and work and play in the same area, but it also is good for creating community. . . But I won’t deny that we’re in a transition from traditional suburbia to urban-suburban, and that’ a difficult transition for some people who are used to having less people here. . .The way you can address people who have concerns is having a real commitment to making sure that infrastructure, the transportation investment, the school impact fees and taxes and expansions—making sure that stuff really happens in the areas where you’re trying to increase density.”

On strengthening small- and mid-sized businesses:

“I think it would relatively inexpensive to expand [the one-person business navigator office]. . .These are investments that will yield economic activity and increase our tax base. . .One of the other things that doesn’t cost any money—it might actually save money for the county—is looking at our regulatory framework and our Department of Permitting Services and things that we require and seeing if there’s some things that, without compromising health or safety, some things that we can remove that are already required at the state level. We can benchmark to other areas that are doing better with creating businesses. . .you definitely would remove the stigma and help some people who are trying to start businesses or expand businesses.”

On improving technical and career education for students:

“Almost 30,000 middle-skill level jobs [are] open and unfilled in Montgomery County. These are electrician, plumber, auto mechanic, some in the IT field. . .[we have] one career and technical high school, Thomas Edison, co-located in Wheaton. . .[those programs] are usually half-full. . .We need to show that there are multiple opportunities and tracks and one’s not good or bad, it’s just different opportunities. . .We need to do more advertising and re-branding of the programs . . .and then we need to provide more opportunities is more parts of the county. . .Industry needs these jobs filled. We fill those 30,000 jobs, or fill half of them, that’s a big boon to the economy here. Those people are going to be paying taxes, services are going to happen—it’s a good thing. It’s a smart investment and it’s something that we as a county definitely need to move toward.”

The four new councilmembers will be sworn in on Dec. 3, and the first new council session will be held the next day. Members will vote on a new council president (expected to be current vice president, Councilmember Nancy Navarro (D-District 4), who will make council committee assignments.

The Source asked Jawando if he had any preferences for his assignments. He spoke of his particular interest in education and workforce issues, and added, “The good thing is when you’re on of nine [council members], and one of the reasons I’m excited to be on the County Council, is you can sit in on committee meetings. You can come in and ask questions, and at the end of the day, we all vote on everything.”

Photo courtesy Will Jawando.

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