Announcement Speech

George Leventhal for Montgomery County Executive

June 24, 2017

 

I’m George Leventhal, and I am standing before you today, because I love Montgomery County.

I was raised in this extraordinary county, and along with my wife Soraia, raised our two sons in this county.

We are a big, bustling, successful and desirable melting pot of 1.1 million residents. People from all over the United States, and the world, have chosen this place to be their home.

My grandparents, my mother and my wife were immigrants. Soraia moved here from Brazil as an adult. We have been married for nearly 28 years and have maintained a multicultural, bilingual home.

Our sons Daniel and Chico grew up speaking Portuguese and English.

My family embodies the 21st century ideal of inclusiveness. It’s an ideal that is directly opposite from the coalition of resentment that elected the current occupant of the White House.

Together, all of us in Montgomery County are raising a generation of young people who show, every day, in the way they live their lives and the principles that they celebrate, that the politics of Donald Trump are not consistent with the values of our community.

I have been your County Councilmember for 15 years, and I have strived to work for ALL the residents of this county, no matter where they were born, no matter what language they speak at home, no matter how they worship, what they look like, or who they love.

My belief in a community in which everyone respects each other, and lives and loves and thrives and prospers together, compels me to ask you: will you give me the chance to serve, as your next Montgomery County Executive?

 

As your next County Executive, I will lead a cost-effective government that sets priorities and achieves results.

I’m not running as an outsider to county government or county politics.

I’m running as the guy who understands the mission of every county department and knows how to provide you with government that works for you and gets results.

Excellent customer service is a critical piece of the culture. You have every right to expect that when you interact with Montgomery County government, you get an answer to your question and a satisfactory effort to solve your problem.

And you should be treated courteously and responded to promptly – no matter which zip code your home is in, or what your family income is.

 

When I was legislative director for Maryland’s U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, she insisted that every constituent who contacted her deserved a response, and I believe the same. Over the last 15 years, my office has earned a reputation of responding quickly to constituent concerns and handling constituent issues effectively.

I have received dozens and dozens of messages that thank me for my response and say I was the only councilmember that bothered to respond at all, let alone work with them to resolve their concerns.

As your next County Executive, I will continue my advocacy for the most vulnerable members of our community. My parents, both physicians, instilled in me a sense of doing good for those less fortunate among us.

Those were the values of our Jewish faith, in which my mother and father raised me, and in which Soraia and I have raised Daniel and Chico.

And, like Hubert Humphrey, I believe a community should be judged not on how it cares for those with the most resources, but how it cares for those who most need a government on their side.

I have chaired the council’s Health and Human Services Committee for 15 years, overseeing the programs that help the sick, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill, the homeless, the addicted, and abused and abandoned children.

Through my work, we have achieved universal access to primary health care in Montgomery County. In 2015, we housed every homeless veteran in Montgomery County. I will always prioritize government resources according to equity and social justice.

But I know that we cannot achieve our social justice goals unless we have a prosperous economy. I will grow the number of jobs in this county: the high-tech, high-wage, science-based, future-oriented jobs of tomorrow.

We have one of the smartest, most diverse work forces in the United States. We need to market ourselves better as the International Gateway to the nation’s capital, to entice the talent our employers need to compete in the global marketplace.

We need to change this county’s reputation as a bad place to do business, and I will lead this charge. And we need to provide opportunities for our own children and grandchildren to work here and live here.

As your next County Executive, I will positively manage the change that comes with an increasing population. We will concentrate our growth in our exciting downtown areas and ensure they are well served by public transportation.

I will be actively engaged with the leadership in Annapolis to ensure that Montgomery County receives its fair share of school building dollars to alleviate the overcrowding affecting so many of our classrooms.

I will begin immediately working to address our traffic congestion to improve the flow along I-270.

I will continue, as I have done for two decades, to advocate for the Purple Line to improve east/west traffic and transportation options from Bethesda to Silver Spring to College Park to New Carrollton.

And I will invest in more affordable housing to ensure that anyone who works in Montgomery County can afford to live here.

I am a progressive for progress.

If you give me the chance to lead this government, we will make a measurable reduction in the academic achievement and opportunity gap; increase the minimum wage; support our first responders and make sure our neighborhoods remain safe; greatly increase the number of students in early childhood education and pre-K programs; ensure clean air and clean water for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren; and continue bringing down our greenhouse gas emissions and expanding access to alternative and renewable energy for all our residents.

If you give me the chance to lead this government, we will live together as one community. We can provide a working local alternative to the politics of the current occupant of the White House. We can show the rest of America, and the world, that in our community, this beautiful county that we chose to be our home, we can do better.

Jesse Jackson said, “I’m not a perfect servant; I’m a public servant.” I’ve worked for you for a long time, and I’ve made some mistakes. But if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t learn anything. And I’ve learned a lot! A leader needs to admit the mistake and explain what was learned. That’s the kind of accountable, transparent and responsive government I’ll provide.

Can I count on your support? Will you stand with me? Will you knock on doors with me, put up my lawn signs, talk to your colleagues, your neighbors and your friends about me?

By working together and supporting each other as neighbors and friends, and expressing our deep love for this county – Montgomery County, Maryland — that we chose to be our home, I believe that we will win. I am deeply grateful for your support. Thank you and God bless you.