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My plan to increase citizen involvement in county government

August 29, 2006|by Donna Brightman

The name is Donna Brightman. As a candidate for Washington County Commissioner, I offer more than 30 years experience in business, 19 of those years as a parent and 13 actively engaged in community and education advocacy. My decision to run for county commissioner was motivated by my commitment to reconnect all the citizens of the county with their government.

Washington County citizens deserve a county government with a policy decision process which insures equity and accountability.

Before we can effectively tackle the pressing issues of rapid growth, tax and land use equity, infrastructure priorities and our finite water and sewer resources, we need to have a process in place that the citizens trust and puts their interests first.

Toward that goal, I would put forth five initiatives in the interest of all citizens:

Initiate monthly, structured, cross-boundary meetings between elected officials from all corners of the county. I promoted this "Council of Governments" concept for three years, gaining approval from many sectors within the county. Among those parties that didn't embrace this COG concept was the current Board of County Commissioners.

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Initiate the formation of a central database for countywide tracking of actual, real-time residential construction, at all levels of approval and permits. Such a database would become a tool to better project and plan infrastructure sufficiency - current and future.

Initiate a close working relationship with our state delegation defining our legislative package and spending time in Annapolis during the General Assembly session supporting and contributing to the process. Forming a coalition of Western Maryland counties would provide a mechanism that ensures our fair share of state funding for such important issues as education, roads, water/sewer and correctional institutions.

Initiate a recruitment and retention package that can be offered to all county employees, including teachers, which would address elements of retirement, work force housing, health care, work safety and educational assistance. If the state is unable to design such benefits, this county can and must improve its recruitment and retention efforts for all county jobs.

Initiate standards and protocols for public-private partnerships. Such programs could provide property tax relief, as well as create alternative funding opportunities for our schools, water and sewer and other infrastructure improvements.

As I continue on the campaign trail, I'm constantly reminded of the strength of grass-roots politics, connecting with people one by one. I enjoy listening to your concerns and suggested solutions as well as sharing mine.

I have found engagement instead of apathy, regardless of differences in address or political party. It's refreshing how many of us share the same common realities of day-to-day life and many common goals for our county's future.

Contact me with your concerns or solutions:

www.brightman4commissioner.com, brightman@myactv.net or 301-491-3178.
Donna Brightman
Candidate for Washington County Commissioner
Knoxville

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