County Council At-Large Candidate: Michele Riley

Photo of the candidate courtesy Michele Riley

Why are you running for County Council?

Voters in Montgomery County are ready for a change in leadership, as evidenced by the term limit measure that passed in 2016. In my opinion, this readiness for change means that we need to get back to the basics of governance:

  1. Maintaining and growing our tax base through local job creation and
  2. Providing county residents with the services they need and want, while ensuring that tax dollars, which are the most precious of all resources, are being spent in an accountable and efficient way.

These basics of governance have not been a focus of the council in recent memory, and I am running to change that.

What are your qualifications for the position?

I am a CPA and have worked in the private sector for 20 years, and the last 10 years as a business owner. I understand the financial big picture and would like to bring my skills in budgeting and forensic accounting to the council so that we have a councilmember who can understand the full fiscal impact of decisions the council makes. We are experiencing declining tax revenue due to the aging of the workforce, and are already projecting large deficits in the short term.

Aside from my professional career, I have been very active in my community during the entire 20-plus years I have lived in Silver Spring, working in my neighborhood’s civic association as president, the PTAs in my children’s schools, and as a lay leader in my church. My work in these organizations (and others) has resulted in extensive interaction with the council on land use, zoning, transit, capital improvement, and grant issues. I know that a large part of the council’s work is in land use/planning and I have a thorough understanding of the processes that are undertaken by the council in considering how best to plan for future growth and development.

Are you using public financing, yes or no?

No, I started out in the public financing program but had to convert to traditional financing due to a filing error that eliminated my campaign from consideration for matching funds.

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

I would implement the recommendations from the Countywide Comprehensive Economic Survey, which was published in November 2016, specifically:

  1. Conduct a capital campaign in the private sector to fully fund the newly formed Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, and
  2. Form a commission to review county regulations and consider the necessity of said regulations (similar to the Augustine Commission that was formed at the state level several years ago).

There are, of course, additional recommendations in the survey, but I think these are the two most important. Beyond that, we need to empower the MCEDC to do the work of business attraction.

We are fortunate in that the seeds for economic growth have been planted, due to the establishment of the MCEDC and the preparation of the Economic Survey. We need to elect a councilmember who will make economic growth and business attraction a primary focus in order to maintain our tax base. I will be that councilmember.

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.

For the last 10 years, Montgomery County has not had a councilmember who is making decisions through a lens of

  1. Encouraging private sector job growth and
  2. Ensuring your tax dollars are being spent on services you need and want.

Simply put, those two considerations will be my primary focus as a councilmember. I am smart, pragmatic, and I want to do my part to help Montgomery County remain a fantastic place to live. We are truly at a crossroads and the decisions we make in this election will determine whether our great county will thrive, or just barely survive.

Michele Riley is a CPA and has worked in the private sector for the last 20 years, and the last 10 years as a business owner. During that entire time, she has been very active in her community in Silver Spring, serving as president of her neighborhood’s civic association (Woodmoor-Pinecrest), working in the PTAs at her children’s schools, and providing leadership through her church (Silver Spring UMC). As part of her community involvement, she has developed a solid understanding of the county’s land use, zoning, and transit policies and issues, and well as the fiscal big picture of the county.

Michele and her husband Jack are the proud parents of Kevin (10th grader at Wheaton High School) and Lauren (8th grader at Eastern Middle School).

 


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