Valerie's Initiatives

Education | Working Families Agenda | Environment | Transportation | Neighborhoods
Community Projects | Local Meets International

Education

Expanding Access to Preschool

Councilmember Ervin has pushed Montgomery County to the front of the preschool movement. Because of her advocacy, the Council has approved additional funds to expand community based preschool programs. In the summer of 2008, the Council approved her resolution to establish a Universal Preschool Implementation Work Group to determine how the county will implement the state's recommendation that preschool opportunities are provided to all 4 year-olds by 2014. Additional information on the work group can be found at the Council website for the Montgomery County Universal Preschool Implementation Work Group.

Closing the Achievement Gap – Kennedy Cluster Project

Councilmember Ervin worked with the county executive, president of the school board, and the superintendent to create the Kennedy Cluster Project to identify and address the underlying causes of the achievement gap among African American students. This project is a collaborative effort between county government, non-profit and community organizations and residents of the Kennedy cluster to find effective solutions to close the achievement gap. For more information see the December, 2008 memorandum: Kennedy Cluster Project Update.

Improving Childhood Nutrition – Summer Food and Universal Breakfast

Providing nutritious meals is one of the most immediate and cost effective ways to improve a child's health and performance in the classroom. Funded by the federal and state government, these programs allow students, who are eligible for the free and reduced price meals program to received lunch in the summer and breakfast during the school year. As a result of Councilmember Ervin's leadership, the county increased the number of children receiving summer lunch in 2008 by nearly 30 percent. Councilmember Ervin continues to lobby state representatives to increase funding for universal breakfast. The county has 72 schools eligible for this program; however, only 29 participate because of a lack of funds. For additional information on these issues please see the information packet.

Working Families Agenda

Prevailing Wage

Councilmember Ervin was the lead sponsor of the county's prevailing wage law. Bill 21-08, Contracts and Procurement – Prevailing Wages – Construction, requires contractors and subcontractors to pay prevailing wages to workers on county construction projects valued at more than $500,000 that are awarded or financed by county government. The county sets prevailing wage rates by using the rates established by the State Commissioner of Labor and Industry. This law also prohibits the misclassification of workers into lower paying job categories; gives the county the ability to withhold contractor payments, if a violation of the law is found; and imposes reporting requirements to track compliance. The county's Department of General Services is responsible for enforcement of this law, which takes effect on July 1, 2009. For additional information on the county's prevailing wage law see the information packet.

Dismantling Barriers to Child Care Subsidies

Councilmember Ervin has asked county officials to eliminate obstacles and streamline the process for accessing child care subsidies. Councilmember Ervin believes that we must create a system that encourages participation, so that children receive the proper care and supervision needed to prepare them for school.

Environment

Chesapeake Bay Trust

Governor Martin O'Malley Names Councilmember Ervin to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, which is a private, nonprofit grant making organization created to promote public awareness and participation in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. This organization is governed by a 19-member board of trustees, of which 14 are appointed by the governor for staggered four-year terms. For information on the Chesapeake Bay Trust, visit www.chesapeakebaytrust.org.

Metropolitan Branch Trail

When I learned that the recommended fiscal year 2011-2016 CIP only included design funding for the Metropolitan Branch Trail, I felt a lack of progress and a lack of commitment to non-automotive modes of transportation. As a result, I asked for a review of the project and championed the request for federal funding via a letter from the Council to Rep. Van Hollen's office. In the end, the budget has been doubled for the project and the Trail's progress has been expedited because of my work.

Community Gardens

Councilmember Ervin is working with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission to bring community gardens to the down county as a way to improve the urban and natural environment. The goal is to identify "pocket parks," which are generally not used by residents, because this public use space is not programmed and is not conveniently located. Community gardens will enhance the lives of residents living in District 5 by providing hands-on food production for adults and children. Community gardens promote social interactions among neighbors, encourage self-sufficiency, beautify areas, produce nutritious food, and provide habitats for urban wildlife. In addition, having options for producing home-grown seasonal crops has an economic impact because working families are able to reduce their overall food costs. Creating a community garden in an urban area will be a way for local government to model good behaviors related to nutrition, recycling, and storm water management.

Green Economy Task Force

Councilmember Ervin serves as a member of the county's Green Economy Task Force. The goals of this group are to advance businesses, technologies and jobs in the county that develop, deploy or adopt green products and services. The 30-member task force was created to help guide and implement the Green Economic Development Initiative. Some key objectives of this initiative include: attracting new businesses that provide green services; driving innovation, research and development into next generation technologies; retaining existing green product, service, research and development sector businesses and fostering the creation of new green companies; facilitating workforce training and retraining to meet the needs of next generation green jobs; and promoting the County's green business cluster regionally, nationally and internationally. More information is available on the website for the Green Economic Development Initiative.

Road Code

Councilmember Ervin co-sponsored Bill 48-06, Streets and Roads – Comprehensive Revision, which implements new, multi-modal transportation standards for the county's roads. This bill is the first in the country to mandate "green streets" techniques to reduce stormwater on all new and reconstructed roads. For information on changes to the road code see the information packet.

Global Warming and Carbon Reduction

Councilmember Ervin co-sponsored the Council's global warming package, which established a sustainability working group and created a $1 million fund to support existing and new programs to reduce the county's carbon emissions. For background information on the multiple laws associated with this environmental package see the Council's April 22, 2008 information packet.

Transportation

Pedestrian Safety Initiative

Councilmember Ervin sponsored a comprehensive Pedestrian Safety Initiative with the county executive. This $5 million initiative will greatly expand the county's pedestrian infrastructure and make walking a safe and viable alternative to the automobile. For more information, please see the full report.

Neighborhood Bike Rental Program

Councilmember Ervin and the county executive are working to bring a neighborhood bike rental program to Montgomery County. This program would allow residents to rent bikes for short periods of time for errands, recreation, and commuting. The councilmember is working with executive staff to secure a cost-neutral pilot program.

Forest Glen Pedestrian Tunnel

Councilmember Ervin supports the construction of a tunnel under Georgia Avenue to improve Metro access and pedestrian safety for the Forest Glen community. In December 2008, the Council approved $2 million to design the tunnel.

Connecticut Avenue Sidewalk

Councilmember Ervin is working with Kensington Mayor Peter Fosselman to improve Kensington's pedestrian safety and access. For example, the Council approved $2 million to build a sidewalk on Connecticut Avenue from Washington Street to Saul Road.

Neighborhoods

Local First Silver Spring and Wheaton

Councilmember Ervin secured funding to support local businesses in the county through the creation of a Local First Program for Silver Spring and Wheaton. Local First is a nationally recognized program that emphasizes the importance of patronizing locally owned businesses and helps owners network and make collective purchases. More information on Local First can be found at: http://localfirstwheaton.org or http://www.buylocalsilverspring.com.

Kensington Sector Plan Moves Forward

Councilmember Ervin's advocacy has kept the Kensington Sector Plan on schedule. Park and Planning began their work in July 2008, and this plan is scheduled to be completed by December 2009. The focus of this effort is to revitalize Kensington's existing community resources. More details on the Kensington Sector Plan can be found on the Planning Board website: Town of Kensington and Vicinity Sector Plan Update.

Old Blair Auditorium and Silver Spring International Middle School

Councilmember Ervin is working with the community, Montgomery County Public Schools, and the county executive to reopen the Old Blair Auditorium. Councilmember Ervin secured funding for a facility planning study to determine how a new multi-use facility can be created to provide space for theater productions and after-school activities. In addition, the councilmember worked with the school system to renovate the Silver Spring International Middle School facade along Wayne Avenue. For more information on Old Blair Auditorium see the Council information packet.

Community Projects

Civic Building and Veterans Plaza

Construction on the new Civic Building and Veterans Plaza has been completed. The plaza will contain an ice skating rink in the winter months, large sitting area and a veteran's memorial. It's a beautiful space where people can have community events and meetings, lounge on benches around the plaza, or see exhibits in the new art gallery.

Silver Spring Transit Center

Construction has begun on the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center. The transit center will combine inter- and intra-city buses, Metro, MARC, bicycle, and pedestrian access into one location. For details on the Silver Spring Transit Center see the Transit Center website.

Silver Spring Library

The county is in the planning stages for the new Silver Spring Library. Councilmember Ervin pushed for a series of community meetings to ensure that the library will be the appropriate size and designed using the highest possible standards. For more information see the History of the Silver Spring Library.

Local Meets International

Darfur Divestment – Sudan Investment Restrictions

Councilmember Ervin co-sponsored Bill 3-08 which prohibits the county's Employees' Retirement System from investing in certain businesses conducting operations in Sudan. For more information on this law see the Council information packet.

Efforts to Call Attention to the War in Iraq and its Toll on the Local Economy

Councilmember Ervin supports a resolution that calls for an end of combat operations in Iraq. Councilmember Ervin believes that the war has put a significant burden on the Maryland National Guard, military families, and local governments' resources.