Message From the County Executive: “Much Was Accomplished in 2023”

Per Montgomery County:

“Dear Friends,
It is amazing how much can be packed into a year. When I was asked recently for one word to describe the year, I said, “Better.” We have had challenges this year, but we have also taken some important steps to improve Montgomery County for everyone. Below I share some of the highlights and noteworthy moments from the year.

 

The year started with the inauguration of Governor Wes Moore and Lt. Governor Aruna Miller. It has been great working with the new administration. The Governor and his team understand and support what we are trying to accomplish in Montgomery County on behalf of the State.

In January, we kicked off a busy year in affordable housing. We saw several groundbreakings and openings, including this project near Randolph Road in Silver Spring.

Throughout 2023, we have supported grants to help religious and community groups improve security from hate/bias attacks. In January, we awarded $800,000 to nonprofit and faith-based organizations. After the Hamas attack of Israel and increasing hate crimes, we expedited $300,000 to groups that were at increased security risk.

In February, I had a chance to discuss with Governor Moore and Lt. Governor Miller the exciting developments of the new University of Maryland Institute for Health Computing. You can watch this video to learn more about the IHC, which just leased office space in North Bethesda.

In March, I visited my alma mater, Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, for Career Day. I told the students a little about the different jobs I have had throughout my life, trying to illustrate that there are many paths for careers in a lifetime.

In March, I joined Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kevin Anderson and National Institute for Standards and Technology leaders in signing a new agreement committing the County to the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

In March, we completed a major project to make the Pike District in North Bethesda more walkable and transit and bike friendly as the Institute for Health Computing and other activities develop near the North Bethesda Metro Station.

In April, during the Montgomery County Public Schools’ spring break, I invited Black leaders from County departments to meet with young people from NAACP’s youth programs.

In April, we completed a project to add 35 flood sensors around the County that will help to protect residents from potential flood events.

In April, Gov. Wes Moore was in Montgomery County again. This time, he was in Gaithersburg to join the unveiling of the largest rooftop solar project tied to an affordable, multi-family housing project in the County. This is one of several projects conducted by the Montgomery County Green Bank to promote solar and reduce carbon emissions.

In April, we launched a new program to accept durable medical equipment for future re-use at the Shady Grove Transfer Station in Derwood. This is one of the ways we are working to reuse as much as possible and reduce what goes into the trash.

In April, one of our affordable housing partners broke ground on its biggest project to date. It is a more than $100 million investment that will create and preserve 189 rentals, with all units affordable to people earning 60 percent of the area median income or less.

We will all miss U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, who announced in May his intention to retire from public service after his current term concludes.

In May, former County Executive Ike Leggett and his wife, Catherine, were on hand for the opening of affordable housing for seniors in Downtown Silver Spring. It was a great moment to honor the Leggetts for their great work over the years. The building is called “The Leggett.”

In May, I signed the “Late-Night Business Safety Plan” bill into law. It requires businesses that stay open past midnight to develop a safety plan for customers.

In May, the County made a record investment in our schools with the passage of the Fiscal Year 2024 operating budget. I am thankful that more money will be going toward schools to improve teacher pay and that 98 percent of my recommended budget remained intact. Here is a video with more on my thoughts about the budget process.

In June, celebrations of Pride Month included decorating a County Ride On Bus to honor the LGBTQ+ community and raising the Pride flag.

June brought the Caribbean American Heritage Festival to Silver Spring. It is one of many cultural and musical festivals that bring people together throughout the year.

After years of planning from a concept that I charged the County Revenue Authority to take on, June saw the grand opening of The Crossvines, a grape-crush facility, winery, bistro and special event center in Poolesville.

In June, the redesign of our Alcohol Beverage Services stores continued with the opening of an Oak Barrel & Vine store in Gaithersburg.

During Juneteenth, we held our annual African American Living Legend Awards and recognized the achievements of six people from Montgomery County for their lifetimes of service to our community.

In June, I had the chance to thank a Good Samaritan, three Montgomery County police officers and a fire inspector for risking their lives to help someone who had jumped into Cabin John Creek near the Beltway. It was an important moment to acknowledge their brave acts.

In July, residents of Westchester West Apartments in Aspen Hill celebrated the preservation of long-term stability for their housing. This was a big win. We were able to use the “Right of First Refusal” law and work with our nonprofit partners to preserve 345 units and prevent displacement.

In July, we celebrated 15 years of good work of Mary’s Center in Montgomery County. It has been a great partner with the County on our Maternity Partnership Program and during the pandemic.

In July, I signed historic legislation that will cap rent increases at three percent plus inflation. Rent stabilization is an important tool in our affordable housing toolbox. You can read here about why this is so important: Montgomery County Updates: Message from the County Executive (montgomerycomd.blogspot.com)

In August, we celebrated 50 years of hip hop with “Vinyl Day” at a special, all-day event at the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Library in Silver Spring.

In August, I visited the annual County Agricultural Fair at the fairgrounds in Gaithersburg.

In August, I visited several communities for National Night Out. The annual County-wide event gives residents a chance to interact with law enforcement officers who patrol their neighborhoods.

In September, we honored two legendary components of the music business that are both rooted in Montgomery County: The Nighthawks band and Chuck Levin’s Music Center. The celebration was part of the Downtown Wheaton Music Series that started in summer and was extended into October.

In September, I welcomed attendees of the BioHealth Capital Region Forum. This year, our region was ranked No. 3 for top life sciences research talent.

In September, I led the first of 10 community conversations about the Fiscal Year 2025 operating budget. You can watch this meeting in Spanish. We also held forums in Chinese and, for the first time, in Amharic.

In October, I signed a new law that will phase out gas-powered leaf blowers and leaf vacuums over the next two years in Montgomery County.

In October, I stood with concerned residents of The Enclave in Silver Spring to demand better conditions from property owners.

In November, the Montgomery County Police Department introduced a pilot program that will deploy drones to crime scenes to help identify suspects and provide responding police officers with critical updates.

In November, I was part of a “ground painting” (rather than a groundbreaking) to celebrate dedicated bus lanes and the start of the Great Seneca Transit Network. It will connect Rockville’s medical community and the Universities at Shady Grove to the closest Metrorail station.

In November, I visited more small businesses including the Megamart in Gaithersburg, where I found someone who is a regular reader of my weekly newsletter.

In December, “Flash Lights” returned to celebrate the holidays and a multi-million-dollar investment by the State in our Bus Rapid Transit system.

Although thousands of miles away, the impact of the conflict in the Middle East has been felt here, including increased acts of hate. I spoke about this at the Committee for Montgomery annual legislative breakfast.

In December, we celebrated a partnership with the biotech company United Therapeutics. It will enable the company to grow its presence in Silver Spring and allow the County to improve its infrastructure.

In December, I joined the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation for its gift giveaway benefiting families in need.

The above photos are only some of the many events and happenings from this past year. We have had celebrations and challenges, and I look forward to an even better, more peaceful 2024.

As County Executive, I am going to continue to work to make this County stronger, better and a place where everyone can feel at home.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive”

 

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