Author: Nik Sushka

Hucker at White Oak Town Hall

Hucker at White Oak Town Hall

It was great to see the big turnout at the Montgomery County MD Council‘s town hall meeting in White Oak.

Issues on residents’ minds included: transportation (including BRT and station design, buses, senior bus service and road paving); public schools, including their physical condition and how we can close the student achievement gap; development, especially concerns and hopes about Viva White Oak, the possibility of Amazon coming to the county and more consumer choices in Silver Spring; and DACA and immigration, including advocacy for providing legal assistance to immigrants.

You can watch the meeting here:https://www.facebook.com/CountyCableMoCo/videos/1728216513904036/ And if you have concerns or ideas about these or other issues, feel free to contact my office at 240-777-7960 or at tom@tomhucker.com.

Tom Hucker Re-Election Kick-Off

Tom Hucker Re-Election Kick-Off

Please join us to kick-off
Tom Hucker’s Re-Election Campaign

The Pearl
180 High Park Lane
Silver Spring, MD 20910 
RSVP online: tomhucker.com/kickoff
Or contact Nik Sushka at:
nik@tomhucker.com | 309-530-3775
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Special Guests Include:
Senator Chris Van Hollen
Congressman Jamie Raskin
Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart
and D20 State Senator Will Smith

Family, friends, and neighbors welcome!
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Honorary Host Committee

Emily & Phil Ackerman, Hon. Dan Adcock, Sam Agger, Jason Alinsky, Brian Anleu, Dave Asche, Johanna Berkson, Dana Beyer, Shruti Bhatnagar, Alan Bowser, Hon. Chris Bradbury, Betsy Bretz, Hon. Karen Britto, Scott Brown, Jean Capps, Del. Al Carr, Julio Cerón, Lorig Charkoudian, Del. Bonnie Cullison, Hon. Hoan Dang, Eric Devereaux, Sean Dobson, Joe Edgell, Holly Fechner, Meg Finn, Kit Gage, Tom Gagliardo, Quincey Gamble, Barbara Goldberg Goldman, Hon. Seth Grimes, Tsega Hailemariam, Hon. Mimi Hassanein, Tony Hausner, Mike Hersh, Hon. Marlin Jenkins, Del. Anne Kaiser, Pepita Coulibaly Kragbe, Lynn Koiner, Hon. Peter Kovar, Del. Ben Kramer, Elissa Lichtenstein, Del. Eric Luedtke, Amouzou Maickel, Hon. Tim Male, Sen. Roger Manno, Janet & Richard Metcalf, Del. David Moon, Scott Moore, Del. Maricé Morales, Karen Murphy, Jumana Musa, Paula Ndirangu, Andrea Nunez, Lorraine Pearsall. Brenda Platt, Anita Powell, Kim Propeack, Richard Reis, Marie Ritzo, Mardokai Russom. Abe Saffer, Isaac Salazar, Jerry Samet, Cathy Sarri, Hon. Terry and Joyce Seamens, Daniel Seligman, Paul Shapiro, Hon. Emily Shetty, Jessica Simon, Sen. Will Smith, Hon. Rebecca Smondrowski, Thomas Squire, Hon. Kate Stewart, Nik Sushka, Jeffrey Thames, Sylvia Tognetti, Ellie Trueman, Abeba & Lene Tsegaye, Laura Van Etten, Ada Villatoro, Hon. Janet Williams, Jen Wofford, Mark Woodard, Sen. Craig Zucker

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Getting to the Pearl:

Public Transit
Silver Spring Metro

Parking
Giant Parking Lot (towing will be suspended)
Eastern Ave Street Parking (follow permit signs!)
NOAA Parking Garage on East-West Highway
Kennett Street Parking Garage
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By Authority: Friends of Tom Hucker, Dennis Desmond, Treasurer.

All funds solicited in connection with this event are by Friends of Tom Hucker, and not by Senator Chris Van Hollen or Congressman Jamie Raskin.

Dog Park Coming to Silver Spring

Dog Park Coming to Silver Spring

Get your chew toys and Frisbees ready — Montgomery County’s first dog park inside the Capital Beltway is nearing completion.

Montgomery County currently operates five dog parks, but all are north of the Capital Beltway. The new Silver Spring dog park, which takes up a portion of Ellsworth Urban Park, is being built as a pilot park to test urban dog park designs. This will be the first constructed as part of a county plan to add 11 more dog parks by 2022.

dog parkdog park

The popularity and demand for dog parks is not surprising — There are now more households with dogs than with kids! The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates there are nearly 80 million pet dogs in the United States. Dogs motivate people to get outside, exercise, and connect with others, and dog parks are one of the fastest-growing park amenities in the country.

The Silver Spring dog park will feature a smaller area for “timid dogs” and a large area for “well-socialized” dogs. Each area is surrounded by a 5-foot-high fence that includes a double-gated entry system. The half-acre dog is scheduled for completion in May.

Abandoned Homes: A Growing Problem in Our Community

Abandoned Homes: A Growing Problem in Our Community

The Great Recession may be over, but the aftermath is still being felt in communities all across the country. Here in Montgomery County, we have more than 400 abandoned properties that continue to drive down nearby home values and attract neighborhood crime.

Abandoned homes are a magnet for dangerous criminal activities, such as squatting, arson and defacement. Unused houses are nearly twice as likely than occupied houses to generate calls for fire or police service, and they lower neighboring property values by as much as 10%. Not only are abandoned houses an eyesore, they pose a serious public safety risk and deter new families from purchasing homes in our county.

I am introducing legislation to reduce the number of abandoned homes and make our community safer. My bill will require unoccupied homeowners to register with the county, and will increase inspections and implement graduated fees for unmaintained homes. Enacting this bill could deter homeowners from leaving properties unused and unkempt for long periods of time, and gives absentee owners incentives to repair and then to sell, rent, or occupy their property.

Here are the basic guidelines of my proposal:

      • Establish a vacant property registration
      • Require an initial inspection within a month of registering.
      • Allow homeowners 30 days to fix any code violations.
      • Charge any subsequent inspections performed by the Department of Housing and Community Affairs(DHCA) to the homeowner using a graduated fee schedule (similar to the False Alarm Response Fee Schedule).

Properties that are no longer in use are more than just a symptom of macroeconomic forces  — their links to crime and sinking property values  make them unique problems in and of themselves.  In order to stave off community decline and disinvestment, we have to act now.

If you know of any abandoned properties in your community, I am asking you to please send your photos and locations to councilmember.hucker@mongtomerycountymd.gov. Together, we will keep our community safe and strong.

Great Week for East County

Great Week for East County

East County is on the rise!

Last week, the County Council unanimously supported my amendment to restore funding for the Maydale Nature Center, we passed $7.5 million to revitalize Hillandale Park, and we broke ground on the new Washington Adventist Hospital in White Oak.

Hillandale Park
Hillandale residents will be able to enjoy long-overdue renovations to Hillandale Park, which includes, a new entrance and sidewalk, hard surface internal trail loop with exercise equipment and heart-smart trail markers, restrooms, full size soccer field with irrigation and fencing, themed multi-age playground with public art, Snake Path and Dinosaur Egg Nest, two picnic shelters, two tennis courts with lighting, two basketball courts with lighting, stormwater management facilities, and landscaping.

Maydale Nature Center
It’s no secret that there has been a lack of investment in East County. I will continue prioritizing much-needed projects like the revitalization of the Maydale Nature Center. We’re very fortunate to live in such a beautiful region, and we need to expand opportunities to connect our youth to the wonders of our natural environment. Since many Montgomery County Public Schools cannot afford to send their students far across the County to attend outdoor education programs, many educators have expressed to me an interest in seeing new options, closer to them.

The idea to restore the nature center and improve outdoor education opportunities to the historically underserved children of East County received unanimous support. My amendment locks down $250,000 in funding and directs Montgomery Parks to transport and install a modular classroom, which will serve as a year-round Nature Center.  Maydale was a widely popular Parks resource that served thousands of students annually between 1994 and 2007, and I am glad to see that we are committing to its restoration and revitalization.

Washington Adventist Hospital
East County residents deserve access to quality healthcare. Through a partnership with the FDA, Washington Adventist Hospital is relocating from Takoma Park to White Oak, in a move that transforms White Oak into a hub for biomedical research. In fact, it’s estimated that the regional impact of post-construction spending of $214.8 million will support 1,901 jobs and generate an economic boost of $307.9 million. As part of the White Oak Gateway Master Plan, the modernized healthcare facility will bring critical investments into the County, and contribute to a vibrant and diverse local economy.

Last week’s victories for East County are just the beginning. If you have any questions or concerns about the upcoming improvements to the Washington Adventist Hospital, the Maydale Nature Center or Hillandale Park, please feel free to reach out to Councilmember.hucker@montgomerycountymd.gov or call (240) 777-7960.

County Delegation Supports Student Loan Refinancing

County Delegation Supports Student Loan Refinancing

Many of us know how hard it can be to keep up with student loans. With national student loan debt soaring over one trillion dollars, this issue has become a crisis for those wishing to purchase a home or start a family. Student loan refinancing is a critically important public policy challenge, and we now have the chance to implement a program that could allow teachers, nurses, attorneys and others to save thousands of dollars each year.

Many of our local business leaders, including Julie Verratti – Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Denizens Brewing Company in Silver Spring – have  a unique experience with student loan debt. According to Julie,  having the ability to refinance loans at lower rates may have helped free up  more cash to start her business. We need to make it easier for our young entrepreneurs to thrive.

Last week, the Montgomery County Delegation in Annapolis unanimously supported the creation of a Montgomery County Student Loan Refinancing Authority (bill MC 27-16). Enacting this legislation would mean that Montgomery County could provide student loan refinancing for residents that would substantially reduce the financial burden on our young people and working-families, free up funds that will be reinvested in our economy, and improve our county’s regional competitiveness to attract new talent (following the example of Las Vegas business loans by Credit Professor and similar organisations). We all want to lessen the economic burden on our neighbors and provide incentives for young workers to live in Montgomery County, as well as encourage businesses to start and grow here.

The House version of the bill (HB1079) will have a public Ways & Means Committee hearing on March 7th at 1:00 p.m. Please contact your local officials and ask them to support HB1079!

Offshore Drilling Endangers Maryland Coast

Offshore Drilling Endangers Maryland Coast

Today, Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker introduced a resolution to formally oppose offshore drilling and seismic testing along the Atlantic Coast. If it passes, Montgomery County will become the largest local jurisdiction to oppose offshore drilling – Ocean City, Baltimore and 100 other local jurisdictions have already taken a stand.

Councilmember Hucker made this statement after introducing the resolution, “Opening up our Atlantic shores to drilling would endanger Maryland’s coastal wetlands, exacerbate climate change, and pose a serious threat to marine wildlife. We need to get serious about protecting our nation’s long-term energy needs by expanding investments in renewable energy, while continuing to protect our state’s coastal environment.”

More than 700 federal, state and local elected officials and over 1,000 business interests have all publicly opposed drilling off the Atlantic Coast, citing threats to local ecosystems and economies. Click here to sign a petition to Governor Hogan and share your support for opposing offshore drilling.