It has been my honor to serve the residents of the City of Gaithersburg for the past 8 years as a member of the City Council. During that time, I have worked with my colleagues and the dedicated employees of the City to provide residents with exceptional services. We have advanced pragmatic policies, supported wonderful communities, and all within our fiscal means.
Having a safe place to live, work and play is of the utmost importance. Here in Gaithersburg, we have the best Police Officers in the County, if not the entire State of Maryland. This is in no small part because of the excellent working relationship the Mayor and Council have with our Law Enforcement Officers. We work together, collaboratively, to bring progressive policing policies that respect the community and focus on building relationships with those we protect. During my time on the Council, we have focused on ensuring our officers have the best equipment, higher pay than other jurisdictions, a new police station, and fostering an atmosphere where those who serve are appreciated. We have implemented police camera use policies, focused on getting officers into the communities, including on bicycles and interacting with residents at events like "Coffee with a Cop," and ensured our officers are trained on the latest in de-escalation techniques, cultural competence, and the appropriate use of force. Ensuring our Officers are motivated to serve the residents of our City will continue to be a top priority of mine.
Focusing on strong environmental policies has been another priority of mine since joining the City Council. We have worked on and advanced various initiatives in the city, such as expanding composting, limiting the use of harmful pesticides both in our homes and on City property, and being early leaders in banning Styrofoam use, which harms our streams, to name a few. I personally have tried to focus the city on preservation of green space and tree cover (including valuing mature trees) in development and environmental restoration projects around the City. As the Council Liaison to the Environmental Affairs Committee, I have enjoyed working with our enthusiastic residents on advancing sound environmental policies, and look forward to future focuses, on things like building out electric car charging infrastructure, increasing bicycle and pedestrian access, and reducing the City's own impacts through its operations like use of road salt and impacting green space with development.
One of the great things about Gaithersburg is the vibrant mix of communities that we all enjoy. From traditional single-family house neighborhoods to our wonderful new urbanist communities like the Kentlands and Crown, Gaithersburg has something to offer for everyone. Ensuring that the places where we live, work, and play remain vibrant and ensuring that new and old exist well together is a work-intensive endeavor. I have enjoyed working with my colleagues, the planning commission, staff, and our residents to try to get it right. We may not always agree, or be able to meet everyone's needs, but my approach has always been to try to put community interests first. I look forward to bringing this approach to the new term as we work to advance important projects like the redevelopment of Lakeforest Mall.
I first got involved with the City as a member of the Transportation Committee, where I focused on my passion for bicycle safety. As an avid rider, I understand the difficulties in safety that bicyclists face. I have continued this passion on the Council, where I have worked with my colleagues to make bicycling safer in the City. We have focused on improving connections, including the NIST path, Quince Orchard Boulevard, and connecting Olde Towne to Shady Grove Metro Station. Prior to my time on the Council, it was illegal to ride most bikes on City sidewalks. This is crazy, and we worked to fix that, where I was the author of the ordinance that corrected this. We have worked to increase bike access in the city through pilot programs for shared bikes, and access to e-scooters. I have also focused on pedestrian safety, advocating for engineering improvements in development plans, and the use of signalized lighting for pedestrians. There is a lot to be done still, and I look forward to making it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists alike.