JUFJ members raised our voices loudly and repeatedly during the Montgomery County Council’s 2020 summer session, and in many cases the Council listened to us and to our partners. In this physically distant session, we advocated for changes to policing, racial equity, eviction prevention, stronger democracy, and fairer taxation.
Read on for details of what we did together towards removing police from schools and mental health crises, strengthening community oversight of police, keeping people in their homes, and more — and for what you can do now to keep moving this vital work forward.
Ballot Questions: Fairer Taxation and Representation
- The County Council approved two proposed County Charter changes that will be on the ballot in November:
- The Council approved Question A, which is a first step in improving how the County collects property taxes and would make it possible for the County to more fully benefit from growth and development. Also on the ballot will be Question B, a Robin Ficker led initiative, which would prohibit the County from raising the property tax rate again for any reason, even if all members of the Council vote for the increase. This will endanger our County’s ability to fund vital services and address the needs of our community due to COVID-19. In addition, Question B will threaten our AAA bond rating. JUFJ is urging our community to vote FOR Question A and AGAINST Question B.
- The Council also approved Question C, which will add two new district Councilmembers to the current five district Councilmembers and the four at-large Councilmembers. While Question C increases representation, Question D would dramatically reduce representation. Question D changes our Council structure to an all district council, which reduces each person’s number of Councilmembers from five to one. JUFJ is urging our community to vote FOR Question C and AGAINST Question D.
- Join JUFJ for a town hall with Evan Glass on September 3 at 7 pm ET to learn more about the questions on the ballot this November and use the sign up link button below to join our team working to get the word out about these important ballot questions.
Racial Equity and Social Justice
- Congratulations to the members of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee, who were appointed by County Executive Marc Elrich and confirmed by the County Council: Selena Mendy Singleton, Sylvia Hernandez, Betty Lam, James Stowe, Partap Verma, Willie Parker-Loan, Troy Boddy, Sonia Canzater, Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, Pat Grant, Jared Hautamaki, Shuo (Jim) Huang, Shane Lloyd, Izola (Zola) Shaw, Gustavo Torres. Three Montgomery County Racial Equity (MORE) Network members were selected for the committee: Zola Shaw, Jim Huang, and Gustavo Torres. We look forward to working with them in this new role!
- The County Council voted to add about $260,000 to the FY21 budget of the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice for staffing and operating expenses. Chief Equity Officer Tiffany Ward requested the funds through the County Executive’s office. Members of JUFJ’s Racial Equity working group, Mark Wolff and Jesse Glickstein, testified on behalf of this funding. Sign up to join this working group using the button below.
- The Montgomery County Council allocated $20 million in CAREs funds for renter relief as well as $2,025,000 to assist at-risk, affordable common ownership communities. However, most estimates are that Montgomery County will need at least $40 million in renters assistance. Learn more about our eviction prevention work here. Sign up to join our eviction prevention working group using the button below.
Mental Health Services
- The Council approved $600,000 for 6 additional social workers for mental crisis units and $250,000 for the mental health program to support schools. JUFJ is joining our partners in supporting the CAHOOTS model or another non-police based model for mental crisis response. Here is the County’s statement announcing the funding.
Removing Police from Schools
- Councilmember Jawando proposed ending the police in schools program during a Public Safety Committee meeting, but the committee voted against the proposal Then Councilmember Jawando proposed cutting about 50% of the number of police in schools as part of the FY21 Budget Savings Plan vote. That vote failed four Councilmembers to five Councilmembers. JUFJ leaders wrote letters to the Councilmembers in response to the vote. Join our working group focused on getting police out of schools using the button below.
Restricting Police Use of Force
- Legislation passed to limit the Use of Force by Montgomery County police officers. All of the amendments proposed by the Silver Spring Justice Coalition (SSJC) were included in the final version of the bill, except for the amendment limiting the use of “no-knock” warrants. Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones effectively scared the Council by pretending that this violent and dangerous practice is necessary, and that untrained officers from other jurisdictions will step in to execute these warrants if Montgomery County police can’t. As a result, all Councilmembers except Councilmember Jawando voted for the Police Chief’s language that still allows the broad use of “no-knock” warrants. Overall, this is a legislative win, with the exception of the weak “no-knock” warrants provision. There is additional policing legislation planned for the fall Council session – join us by signing up for our policing legislation working group using the button below.
- The Office of Legislative Oversight (the data and research arm of the County Council) presented a new report with data about policing in Montgomery County that shows significant disparities in County police interactions with Black and brown residents. Councilmember Will Jawando will be hosting a forum on September 10 to discuss this data, and he plans to introduce legislation to require the police department to collect critical data that isn’t currently being collected.
Policing Advisory Commission
- The County Executive and the County Council selected their representatives to the Policing Advisory Commission (PAC), which is a civilian body tasked with proactively reviewing and making recommendations for policing policing in Montgomery County. The County Executive appointed: Robin Gaster, Alicia Hudson, Dalbin Osorio (26-35 yr old), and Jasmine Williams (under 25 yr old). The County Council appointed: Cherri Branson (interim vice-chair), Caroline Fredrickson, Jenn Lynn, Shabab Ahmed Mirza, Jerome Price, Justice Reid, Vernon Ricks (interim chair), Nadia Sandi, and Eric Sterling. We expect the PAC to begin meeting this fall, and we have a working group set up to closely follow the work of the PAC. Sign up to join that group using the button below.
Join us at an upcoming JUFJ Montgomery County event, and use the button below to sign up for one of our teams working on these issues in the Fall and beyond.
March 9 | 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Sign up to join our next Racial Equity and Policing Team meeting.
March 10 | 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Join JUFJ to watch the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee as they hear testimony on the COVID-19 Eviction and Housing Relief Act (SB910). The hearing starts at 1:30 PM, but we don’t know the exact time bills will be heard. Sign up to get an email notification when the bill is next on the committe…
March 10 | 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Join JUFJers from across Maryland for a call at 8:00 PM to discuss our ongoing issue campaign work. If you’re new to JUFJ or want to schmooze and catch up with fellow members, join at 7:30 PM.
March 11 | 9:00 am – 11:30 am
Join JUFJ’s Montgomery County Team as we watch the second worksession for an upcoming piece of legislation that seeks to expand the police department’s data collection practices. We’ll meet at 9 AM to discuss background information on the legislation, and the worksession will begin at 9:30.