Nancy Floreen, a Democrat running as an independent candidate in the County Executive race in Montgomery County, MD, is taking some heat over her finances, including political donations.
Floreen, who entered the race after progressive Democrat Marc Elrich won the primary, has raised around $340,000. She has already spent more than half of these funds on her campaign to get on the ballot for November.
Floreen received 129 contributions over the reporting period, 35 of which were for the $6,000 legal maximum, her filing with the State Board of Elections shows. At least two-thirds of the money she raised came from donors with ties to development, real estate and construction. People in some of these industries are uneasy at the prospect of Elrich becoming county executive, Floreen said. “Updated: Floreen Raises $340,000 To Kick Off Independent Bid for County Exec, Spends More than Half To Get Onto Ballot”
Floreen has already started to cozy up to her political donors. In a recent candidate debate in Aspen Hill, Floreen noted that the answer to the affordable housing issue is making it easier for builders. Elrich, meanwhile, hopes to encourage home ownership, not renting, and wants to push for “zoning for less density.”
However, there’s a new twist on the housing issue. Montgomery County’s planning department has halted plans for new housing in several areas of the county because local schools fear they don’t have enough space for current students. Katherine Shaver of the Washington Post says that “…half of the county’s 205 schools exceed 100 percent capacity, and some hover around 150 percent.” Halting new developments is a disaster for local developers, real estate, and construction businesses. The development boom in Montgomery County is reliant on new developments in the most sought after cities like Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. Developers will have to start looking for opportunities in other parts of the county in order to make money. However, cities further away from the DC border are less attractive.
Dan Reed from Just Up The Pike tells us the sale of existing homes doesn’t contribute to funding school expansion in Montgomery County.
In most of Montgomery County, developers have to pay a fee for each new home they build to help pay for schools. But if an older, childless household with sells their home to a young family with kids, as is often the case, the county doesn’t get any money for those new students. “montgomery county says no new homes in silver spring because the schools are full”
School shortages aren’t a new phenomenon in Montgomery County. The challenge for the future will be how to solve the problem long-term instead of developing solutions to just take care of the current problem, like adding portable classrooms. Bethesda Elementary is the perfect example of short-term solutions that just aren’t working anymore.
Bethesda Elementary School opened an eight-classroom expansion three years ago to relieve pressure on the overcrowded campus. A year later, the school spilled over again into a portable classroom. When this school year started Tuesday , it had four portables and 639 children — 80 more than it’s built to hold As D.C.-area schools grapple with overcrowding, parents wonder why enrollment projections are so off
Floreen and Elrich will have to find creative, long-term solutions to face both the shortage of housing and the lack of schools in several popular school districts. Floreen, who is pro-developer, pro-business, won’t be so keen to let her donors down. Elrich, meanwhile, will need to find funding for school expansions, new schools, or redistricting if he insists on favoring low density residential zones within Montgomery County.