Meet George Leventhal

    

 

The Conscience of the Council - After nearly four terms as an at-large, Democratic member of the Montgomery Council, George Leventhal continues to distinguish himself as a caring, compassionate and accomplished leader for all of the citizens of Montgomery County.

George stands apart for his heart-felt commitment to helping those who cannot always help themselves. While some may cater to those with the most influence and funds, George has chosen to advocate for those with the least. Why? Because it makes a difference in people’s lives and most of all, it is right!

Serving as Chairman of the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee, George deeply embraced the Committee’s responsibility for developing programs affecting the sick, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, and abused and abandoned children.

Case in point: George led the way for one of his many signature initiatives, Montgomery Cares. This innovative and culturally competent program ensures access to health care for 30,000 uninsured county citizens per year through a user-friendly network of “safety net” clinics.

George saw this issue – access to care— to be one of vital importance to working families, many of whom are poor, beginning in 2005, long before today’s raging national debate on health care even began. Today, the county’s Montgomery Cares network of clinics serves 30,000 patients per year, often in their own languages, at 28 locations throughout the county. Each site also dispenses free prescription medicines.

George’s commitment to health reform will continue to dominate his work if elected to a fourth County Council term. George shares the view of Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, that “once we get everybody covered, our work has just begun.” Councilmember Leventhal is dedicated to the Triple Aim promoted by the Institute for Health Care Improvement: 1) improve patients’ experience of care (including quality and satisfaction); 2) improve population health; and 3) reduce the per capita cost of health care. He understands that the only effective way to reduce health care costs for all of us is to promote a culture of wellness that reduces utilization of our health care system and results in everyone feeling better and working more productively. This will not only improve our health care system, but also strengthen our economy.

To help achieve these objectives, George passed legislation requiring calorie labels on menus at fast food and chain restaurants, which enables consumers to make healthier choices. He co-chairs the Healthy Montgomery Steering Committee, which put healthymontgomery.org on the web to help the public monitor our progress in improving public health. The steering committee works to guide the county's overall public health efforts. And he initiated the Task Force on Employee Wellness, which made recommendations for a culture of wellness among county government employees. Healthier and fitter county employees will bring down costs for taxpayers by utilizing less health care, and will be more productive. The culture of wellness we seek in county government, including the appointment of a wellness coordinator, can be a model for the private sector as well. George was also the prime sponsor of legislation banning smoking in hallways and lobbies of multi-family housing. This followed George’s earlier support for banning smoking in bars and restaurants.

In addition to access to health care for the uninsured, George has also been a doer, not a talker, in securing housing for the homeless through his Housing First initiative and the county’s participation in the 100,000 Homes Campaign. By aggressively matching the homeless with stable housing and necessary support services, rather than a temporary shelter, Housing First and the 100,000 Homes Campaign are successfully reducing homelessness throughout the county.

Among many other important laws sponsored by Councilmember Leventhal that ensure good government and protect the rights of individuals are:

-Legislation to require county council approval, with public input, before the County Executive can sell or lease public property worth millions of dollars;

-Legislation to assist seniors and disabled people to stay in their homes by providing property tax credits for accessibility improvements;

-and The Domestic Workers Employment Contracts Act which requires employers of domestics to negotiate and sign a written contract that specifies the terms and conditions of employment.

During his three terms in office, Councilmember Leventhal enthusiastically championed a number of programs to protect our environment and live sustainably. As a member of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee (2002-2010), he initiated Montgomery County’s purchase of clean, renewable energy to meet 30% of its electricity needs. He brought forth the county’s “Green Buildings” legislation that requires privately-constructed buildings over 10,000 square feet to be LEED certified, and county-constructed buildings to achieve a LEED-silver or equivalent rating. And he co-founded Bethesda Green, a public-private partnership that provides a living model of sustainability, promoting energy-efficiency, public recycling, public transportation, and cycling, as well as a community-wide environmental ethic. Most of the funding has come from the private sector, leveraging very small investments of taxpayer dollars. Bethesda Green is the first green business incubator in the State of Maryland and provides support for small start-ups that could otherwise not afford their own space.

One of George’s top priorities over the past four years has been the creation of  The Purple Line, an east-west transit link which will connect both legs of Metro’s Red Line, the Green Line and the Orange line, three MARC train lines and AMTRAK. George is a founder and ex-officio board member of Purple Line NOW. Ben Ross, former president of the Action Committee for Transit,has said, “No Montgomery County elected official has done more to advance the Purple Line than Councilmember George Leventhal.” George organized a statewide transportation summit in November, 2012 that helped build support for the Maryland General Assembly’s decision in 2013 to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund.

For his leadership and commitment to caring, George received such accolades as:

•The Public Partner of the Year Award from Mobile Medical Care, Inc.

• The Public Official of the Year Award from CHI Centers, Inc.

• The Climate Champion Award from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network

• Recognition of Leadership and Dedication for the well-being of seniors from senior advocacy group GROWS

•And the Recognition and Appreciation of Working Tirelessly on Behalf of Youth and Families in Montgomery County from YMCA Youth & Family Services

Councilmember Leventhal currently serves as Vice President of the County Council. His colleagues previously elected him Council President in 2006 and Vice President in 2005. From 1995 to 2002, George Leventhal was employed as Senior Federal Relations Officer for the Association of American Universities (AAU). Prior to working at the AAU, he served as legislative director and legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, and as a research assistant on the tax staff of the Senate Finance Committee under its then-chairman Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. From 1996 to 2001, Leventhal served as chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. He played a leading role in many other political and community activities in the Takoma Park-Silver Spring area and throughout Montgomery County.

He is also quite active in the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), and served in 2011-2012 as the Chair of COG’s Human Services and Public Safety Policy Committee. George also served on the Greater Washington 2050 Committee, a regional initiative to improve the quality of life for Washington area residents.

George Leventhal received a Master’s degree in public administration from the Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley. In addition, he completed The Academy for Excellence in Local Governance; a voluntary certificate program administered by the University of Maryland to help local officials meet the challenges of their roles.

George's family first moved to Montgomery County in 1964 when he was two-years old.  He grew up here and has spent the majority of his adult life living and working in the area. Today, George and his wife, Soraia P. Leventhal live in Takoma Park, where they have resided since 1985. They have two sons, Daniel and Francisco. George is a member of Shirat HaNefesh synagogue.