County Council At-Large Candidate: Marilyn Balcombe

Photo of the candidate courtesy Marilyn Balcombe

Why are you running for County Council?

This is a landmark election. With at least four new council members and a new county executive, we need to elect new leaders who have a comprehensive knowledge of the complexity of the issues facing our county. We live in a great community and we continue to grow and change. We need to manage that growth in a way that protects our quality of life for ALL our residents. I know I have the knowledge, skill and vision to do so.

What are your qualifications for the position?

I am an accountant with over 35 years of experience in budget and finance. I also know what it’s like to make payroll every two weeks. I have a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and know how effective organizations should operate. I have been working with the County Council for the past 25 years on a number of issues such as transportation, master plans, zoning, budgets, legislation, nonprofit funding.

I’ve worked on projects as large as opening BlackRock Center for the Arts or as small as getting a new traffic light installed. I’ve advocated for libraries, parks, police stations, schools, and the arts. I know the job requirements for County Council and there is no doubt that I am one of the most qualified candidates in this race.

Are you using public financing, yes or no?

I am not.

What specific policies and/or programs would you propose to expand the county’s tax base?

Historically, the county relied on federal jobs and did not externally market Montgomery County as a great place to do business. We are now doing so through the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation. I participated in various stages of the development of this organization and support full funding of MCEDC.

As the CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, I work with business every day to help them grow and expand our tax base. If asked their views on business expansion, the resounding chorus from our business owners would be for the County Council to “listen, believe, and respect.” Specifically, before the council passes legislation, I would propose a fiscal note to determine the impact on our economy. With legislation, there are often winners and losers. The county should have more precise information on whether legislation will negatively impact small business.

I would also propose targeted tax incentives and micro-loans for small, independently owned businesses. Nearly every master plan calls for some level of service retail. We all like the concept of independent shops and restaurants in our neighborhoods. The reality is that it is very difficult for these small shops to survive. They often do not have the reserves to weather financial uncertainty. Ready access to short-term cash is typically the difference between success and failure.

I’m an average voter, interested in doing my civic duty but not an avid follower of county politics. Convince me that I should vote for you over all the other candidates.

There are a lot of similarities among the 33 candidates. We are all Democrats with a shared set of progressive values. We all talk about the same things—education, jobs, environment, transportation, and social and economic justice. The differentiating factor is experience. There are significant differences among the candidates in terms of what each of us has actually accomplished for our community. The voters will need to decide if a candidate can actually do what they say they are going to do. Can they deliver? I can and I have. My track record speaks for itself.

Marilyn Balcombe is the President/CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce. As the CEO of the chamber, her primary focus is bringing jobs to the county. She is also a strong advocate for transportation; she founded the Corridor Cities Transitway Coalition, is the co-chair of the Great Seneca Science Corridor Master Plan Implementation Committee, and was an appointed member of the Rapid Transit System Task Force (precursor to BRT). Balcombe is currently the chair of the Committee for Montgomery, on the board of the Arts and Humanities Council, and sits on the Community Advisory Committee for Asbury Methodist Village.

Prior to being at the chamber, Balcombe was with BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown as the executive director during the construction and the first year of operations. She was also on staff at the Upcounty Regional Services Center as the community outreach coordinator for the Germantown community. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a CPA with the accounting firm KPMG.

Prior to her work in the community, Balcombe was an organizational psychologist with the U.S. Department of Energy. She holds a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree in mental health counseling from the University of Florida, and a bachelor’s degree in accounting, also from the University of Florida. In addition to her work in the United States, she worked in England at the newly opened medical school at the University of York, developing their organizational infrastructure.

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