Howard County Council District 1 candidate Neveen Kurtom – Baltimore Sun

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Howard County Council
District 1

Neveen Kurtom

Democratic

39

Ellicott City, Howard County

Lawyer

University of Maryland College Park – Bachelor of Arts University of Baltimore School of Law – Juris Doctor

Nothing.

What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the county and how would you address it?

The most pressing issue currently facing the county is our pandemic recovery efforts. This includes managing the challenges that our school system is facing/has faced over the past few years. This pandemic has led to the exodus of teachers from the profession. Retaining and supporting our teachers in Howard County is therefore a top priority. Maintaining our top-notch school system is essential to economic growth and attracting businesses to Howard County. Therefore, providing incentives and higher compensation to teachers is key to ensuring a top-notch school system. The county must continue to work diligently to secure funds to help our school system and businesses recover from the pandemic.

Is the county doing all it can to reduce flooding in Ellicott City? If not, what more should be done?

The county’s plan to reduce flooding is solid, and I would look to strengthen it and accelerate projects to bring relief more quickly. Although the tunnel project, when completed, has the potential to reduce flooding, it will take several years to complete. I would favor accelerating upstream mitigation efforts such as retention ponds, stream restoration, and reforestation to reduce or stop flooding in Ellicott City. These are very costly efforts and we must continue to push for additional federal and state funding as well as pursue public-private (P3) partnerships, as other counties have done for similar efforts.

What would you do to increase the number of affordable housing units? Where does affordable housing rank among your priorities for the county?

I support the allocation and construction of more affordable housing throughout the county. Affordable housing is high on my priority list, along with education and community safety. To increase the supply of affordable housing, I would require builders to provide ten (10) percent affordable housing in their developments of 20 or more units. If they don’t, I would propose legislation that dramatically increases the fee for every unbuilt affordable home. These funds would be used to subsidize rents, provide mortgage assistance or support the efforts of non-profit organizations building affordable housing. I support recent legislation establishing the Housing Opportunity Trust Fund, which provides funds and incentives for building or subsidizing affordable housing. My opponent opposed the Housing Opportunities Trust Fund, as well as affordable housing projects including Roslyn Rise, the Cultural Center at Columbia, Dorsey Overlook and Hickory Ridge Apartments.

What are your plans to increase or improve public transportation in the county?

It must be recognized that public transport is a public service and not a for-profit service. Fare collection cannot and should not support public transportation, which relies heavily on subsidies from federal, state, and local funds and grants. A portion of federal infrastructure funds should be used for public transit. I will seek opportunities to innovate Howard County transit to include: public-private partnerships, increased use of carpooling or “personal transportation” options, and other proven methods deployed in other jurisdictions to across the country.

What plans do you have to help the county and its businesses successfully emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Recovering from the pandemic is an important issue for our businesses, especially restaurants, hotels and the entire hospitality industry. I will work with the county, Economic Development Authority, Chamber of Commerce and other community organizations to continue to support or find new ways to support businesses by: – ​​Allowing restaurants to use outdoor spaces for dining. – Provide “business continuity” grants or loans to local businesses and explore more stable sources of financial assistance to help businesses during this time, including tapping into local and regional banks. – Increase efforts to promote local businesses and facilitate a network to connect businesses and find ways to support each other.

What do you think of the future growth and economic development of the department?

We must recognize that economic growth and development provides a first-class school system, diverse recreational opportunities and a healthy living environment. I support smart sustainable growth and the creation of an economic environment that will encourage businesses to locate and stay in Howard County. Moreover, we must have policies to encourage businesses to grow and innovate. Therefore, redevelopment of areas in need, such as historic Elkridge and the Highway 1 Corridor, must be a priority. The county should promote and encourage these redevelopment efforts which have not made significant progress in recent years.

What role can the county government play to improve education in county schools?

Education is Howard County’s number one line item. Maintaining a top quality school system is the county’s priority and mine. Our school system attracts businesses and families to come and stay in Howard County. As a result, the school system is essential to the economic health and continued development of the county. The county should continue to fund the school system to have the resources needed to provide quality education to students, with an emphasis on educator salaries to attract and retain the best and brightest. Legislation for the Maryland Assembly to implement the findings of the Kirwan Commission will require a significant increase in funding over the next few years. As a Council member, school funding is our unique education-related role in the county and I will ensure that our budgets reflect priorities and meet requirements in a fiscally responsible manner.

What efforts should county schools make to address systemic racism in education and society?

As a mother of three children who attend Howard County Public Schools, the dramatic rise in racism in schools and society at large is a real and significant concern. I was particularly disturbed and disappointed by the manifestation of racism and bigotry during the last school redistribution process and by the various incidents of racism and hate in the county over the past few years. The school board and county should intentionally and aggressively formulate a plan involving teachers, unions, parents and students to address racism in the system. As a member of Council, I will ensure that the county administration fully staffs existing positions or creates new roles to aid in this effort. The development of multimedia programs, community meetings and round tables is also important.

What steps should the county take to improve public safety?

The county should ensure that there are sufficient numbers of police officers, firefighters and paramedics to serve our growing population. The county must also ensure that the fire department has the necessary and most up-to-date equipment to fulfill its mission. I believe that the people who protect us in Howard County at the risk of their lives should be compensated appropriately, and I will work to make sure that is the case. The county should implement public community and neighborhood safety programs to educate residents about their role in maintaining and improving public safety, including expanding training and mediation services to community groups and associations. piece. The county should also encourage firefighters and police to attend community meetings and schools to promote public safety.

What is the impact of climate change on the county and what can be done locally to deal with the effects?

The county has suffered the consequences of climate change in the numerous and rapid pace of flooding across the county. The floods have resulted in loss of life, loss of businesses, loss of employees, displacement of owners and other negative consequences. The county needs a climate change study and a report on the concrete steps it will take to do our part to mitigate the impact and reduce our contributions to climate change. The county should continue to expand its own efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by expanding the use of renewable energy in buildings and vehicles. Our parks should practice regenerative landscaping that requires far less fuel. We should continue to expand commercial and residential recycling and food composting to reduce food waste sent to our landfill. Broadening community engagement is essential, particularly through increased use of online platforms, to drive public awareness and action on climate sustainability.

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