Opinion: East County native Dan Reed best fit on Planning Board

East County is fortunate to have two long-time residents and advocates selected as finalists for the open seat on the Planning Board. Peter Myo Khin Khin of Colesville and Dan Reed of Silver Spring will be interviewed by the County Council on May 11. The other two candidates under consideration are businesswoman Tina Patterson of Germantown and public servant Bruce Romer of Bethesda.

Dan Reed and Marc Elrich speak at Good Hope Estates community meeting
Dan Reed explains the future of Montgomery County during a community forum in Cloverly, MD to discuss the 2016 Subdivision Staging Plan. Councilmember Marc Elrich was our second guest speaker. Photo by author.

I know Peter and Dan personally and have collaborated with them in the past. Both are great people that would make fine additions to the Planning Board. Although I do not know the other two candidates, I am sure that they are qualified as well, considering that they were also short-listed from the poll of applicants.

Peter has demonstrated a strong commitment to serving the residents of Montgomery County, since I see him at nearly every community event and public hearing in East County, including nearly every event I have organized. Peter has led several events that I’ve participated in, including the December 2016 East County Bus Tour and the upcoming Burtonsville Day Parade.

Photo of Peter Myo Khin and Jewru Bandeh standing at front of bus
Peter Myo Khin (left) organized and led an East County Bus Tour with ECRSC Jewru Bandeh in December 2016. Photo by Eric Rasch.

That being said, I could not think of any person better-suited for the position than Dan Reed, and I strongly recommend that the County Council appoint him to the Planning Board.

In fact, it would be crazy not to select Dan Reed, and here are four reasons why:

  1. Dan knows his stuff. He is a professional planner at Nelson/Nygaard and understands transportation, land use, placemaking, and zoning, as well as their impact on community vitality, resilience, health, happiness, and equity. Montgomery County deserves a Planning Board commissioner with a deep understanding of technical and complex topics such as CLV and FAR. His educational background alone (master degree in urban planning) makes him the most well-qualified candidate for the position. He also has a strong background in education and environmental issues, as evidenced by his significant technical contributions to One Montgomery and the Montgomery County Sierra Club. I would wager that Dan has written more about planning than all three of the other candidates combined.
  2. Dan cares about enriching communities (not himself). Dan’s social conscience and selflessness is exemplified that (to my knowledge), he has never attempted to monetize his extremely popular blog website. Some cynics complain that people pursue public office for profit or power, but anyone that has watched Dan’s writings and track record over the past ten years or met him one-on-one can attest that he truly cares about making communities better for all residents, but particularly the vulnerable and disenfranchised. Dan has invested thousands of hours gratis to advocacy, outreach, and community-building.
  3. Dan reflects the shifting demographics of Montgomery County. Dan knows what it’s like to ride buses for three hours a day to make a 16-mile round-trip commute. He grew up in Silver Spring at a time when people avoided the area and understands firsthand the opportunities, threats, and challenges of urban revitalization. As a young, gay, black, first-generation American, he provides a unique perspective for the Planning Board, more than half of which is currently “old white guys”. No offense to the current Chair (which I have great respect for), the other two OWG Boardmembers, or the one OWG candidate, but as a rapidly-growing majority-minority jurisdiction, the residents of Montgomery County deserve appointed officials that reflect our diversity.
  4. Dan is a role model and inspiration for the next generation of civic activists. If you appreciate what I’ve been doing in East County in the past year, you can thank Mr. Reed! I’ve been following his blog since he and I were students at College Park. Over time, his writing has made me realize the importance of good planning, smart growth, and community advocacy, which is what motivated me to pursue the thankless jobs of civic association president, transit activist, and blogger. Dan has organized numerous campaigns and charrettes, which were the inspiration for me starting the Coalition to Fix MD 198 and the nascent #buildaBetterBurtonsville campaign. And to top it all off, his enthusiastic social media presence and prolific writing are an effective tool to engage young people in local politics and public policy. In an era where citizens are energized to get involved in the political process, we need leaders who can effectively use as many tools as possible to reach new people in the important discussions that will affect Montgomery County for generations.

What can you do to get involved?

  • Want to learn more about the candidates? The only unbiased news story I found was from the Bethesda Beat.
  • If you agree that the County Council should appoint Dan Reed for the new Planning Board position, please take a minute to sign the online petition at ggwash.org (bottom of page).
  • If you have a different opinion of who the County Council should appoint to the Planning Board, contact them by email or phone.
  • View the Planning Board candidates’ interviews on May 11 at 9:25 am. You can attend the interviews at the County Council Building or watch online.

Leave a Reply