Jon Weinstein

Jon Weinstein
  • Democrat
  • Age: 51
  • Residence: Ellicott City

About Jon Weinstein

Education

BA, International Relations, Boston University (minors in Geography and History) MA, International Affairs, The American University (concentration in National Security Policy) Certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Project Management Institute

Background

My professional career includes experience as a Management Consultant and business owner. I have over 25 years of experience in assisting organizations, mostly in the Government sector, improving their performance through strategic planning, project management, process improvement, and change management. In 2005, I founded Line of Sight, a management consulting firm focused on improving performance in government organizations. In 2017, I achieved one of my key goals for starting my own business, to give my employees a chance at ownership. I merged my company with an employee-owned firm, The Newberry Group, where I now serve as Executive Director. I have written two books and a host of articles and book chapters on the subjects of leadership, management, and change in government organizations. Also, I received military training through the ROTC program at Boston University and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves and served in the 220th Military Police Brigade HHC, then headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Questionnaire

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1
TIFs
What are your views on the use of tax-increment financing as an incentive for private building and redevelopment projects, including remodeling blighted village centers in Columbia?
Weinstein: TIFs are one potential tool when looking at large scale redevelopment, particularly in blighted areas. According to the Government Finance Officers Association, TIF’s are employed in almost every state and most medium to large municipalities. I believe that with the slower rate of fiscal growth that Howard County is experiencing and projecting in future fiscal years, the County must consider a full array of financial tools like TIFs, P3s, and others. TIFs should also not be viewed in a vacuum. It is important for us to look at the long-term revenue benefits from financing infrastructure. In the case of Downtown Columbia, the County Council decided in 2010 that it wanted a highly dense commercial and residential region in Columbia. That desire would not have been achieved without the use of public financing. The County Council decided in 2016 to utilize this tool and did so in a way that will yield hundreds of millions of additional tax revenue coming into the county to support its public service needs over the next 30 years. I voted in support of the TIF for Downtown Columbia. As a result of public concerns about changes to the TIF for Downtown Columbia, I sponsored a measure that the Council passed 5-0 to have language included in future TIF-enabling legislation that requires additional Council review and public input on significant changes to any TIF-funded projects.
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2
School safety
With rising concern over school safety, should county police officers or sheriff’s deputies be assigned to all public schools, along with additional screening methods, such as metal detectors, student pat-downs and clear backpacks?
Weinstein: I believe we need to put a priority on making our schools as safe as possible and that all measures and methods should be considered. Following the Parkland massacre, I attended a meeting with students at Wilde Lake High School, along with Senator Ben Cardin, to discuss their thoughts on school safety. The students raised a wide variety of physical security measure, including “active shooter” drills, screening at the entrances, more enhanced identification and building access procedures, and more. I support Howard County Police Department’s excellent Student Resource Officer (SRO) program now at all high schools and some middle schools, and expanding it to all high schools AND middle schools. Further, with additional community input, I believe formalizing regular community police patrols to include public schools is another means of improving school security. While some police officers already visit some schools as part of their regular patrol routine, making this part of the standard operating procedure will provide police with greater awareness of the environment and physical layout in the school, something best done before a crisis occurs. One concern raised during this discussion, as well as other conversations I’ve had with students, parents, educators, and public safety leaders is how far do we go before our schools become more like fortresses than places of learning. Our community’s challenge will be to find the right balance of safety and an inviting educational environment for our students.
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3
Privatization
Are there any county government services that should be privatized to save money and improve efficiency?
Weinstein: At this time, there are no specific services that I would identify that are appropriate for the Howard County government to privatize.
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4
Adequate public facilities
Is a provision in the county’s recently adopted Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance that allows developers to build affordable housing in areas where a building moratorium is in place a responsible approach?
Weinstein: I co-sponsored and voted for APFO (CB1-2018). The core of the legislation came from amendments I authored or co-sponsored, including lowering the elementary and middle school capacity tests, adding a high school test, and strengthening the roads test. My goal was to create the strongest possible bill that could be enacted; requiring either four votes on the Council (a “veto-proof” majority) or three Council votes and the signature of the County Executive. The affordable housing provision included in APFO is a responsible approach to addressing the lack of such housing. The provision itself does not add or approve a single unit in areas that are “closed” to development; allowing affordable housing projects only when a specific set of conditions are met: 1. At least 40% affordable at 60% or less of the area median income, and the project includes or is seeking low-income tax credits or other state or federal financing; 2. Led by or in partnership with a local nonprofit or the Housing Commission; 3. Supported, in writing, by the County Executive; and 4. The Council and Executive approve a resolution following public hearing and input. Specifically, considering the capacity of the schools impacted by the project, number of students the project may generate, potential BOE actions to address capacity, and the need for affordable housing in the county. This provision addresses the County’s need for affordable housing and concerns related to compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act that Maryland and other jurisdictions have experienced when restricting development.
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5
Sanctuary county
Is it appropriate for Howard to be a “sanctuary county” and prohibit county police from reporting detainees in the county detention center to federal authorities?
Weinstein: I believe many concerns about the current climate within our immigrant community have been addressed through the implementation of several actions I worked diligently in partnership with people and organizations in our community - HCPD, County Administration, Foreign-Born Information Referral Network (FIRN), HopeWorks, #OneHoward, and Indivisible HoCo. A few results of these efforts include: 1. Comprehensive review and update of county policies to determine opportunities to clarify interactions with the foreign-born community. 2. A new and comprehensive HCPD policy (OPS10) documenting interactions with foreign nationals. I believe this is one of the more comprehensive policies in the region. 3. MOU between FIRN and HCPD to enhance trust, communication, and engagement between HCPD and the County’s foreign-born community. FIRN has reported that since the policy and MOU have gone into effect, they’re seeing increased willingness among the immigrant community to report crimes. 4. Increased public access via the County website and from organizations assisting in disseminating relevant information. I believe the outcomes outlined above have provided more real and practical support to our immigrant community than passing a symbolic sanctuary resolution or law. As a result, I do not believe Howard Count needs to be a sanctuary county. A member of the Indivisible Immigration Action Team remarked that my “position on immigration since early 2016 and our recent encounters lead me, personally, to believe that in many ways your approach maybe what is best for all residents of Howard County given what is and is not occurring at a national level.”
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6
Ellicott City
What efforts, if any, should Howard County take to install more flood-control systems in and around Ellicott City, and how many tax dollars should be involved?
Weinstein: I have been deeply involved with addressing stormwater and flooding in Historic Ellicott City going back to before being elected when I was a Main Street business owner and one of the founding members of the Ellicott City Partnership. As the Councilman representing this area, here are a few examples of action to protect the area: 1. Launched, with the County Executive, the Ellicott City Flood Working Group in 2015 to establish a vision and plan for managing storm water in the area. 2. Authored CB79-2016 (passed 5-0) to increase requirements (for first time in over 10 years) for stormwater management to the “100-year storm” level for the entire county. The bill also requires these regulations be updated regularly. 3. Authored CB80-2016 prohibiting issuance of waivers to floodplain, wetland, stream, or steep slope regulations for properties in the Tiber Branch Watershed. 4. Worked closely with state and federal officials for funding and support for flood recovery and rebuilding efforts. The proposed FY19 Capital Budget contains approximately $5 million in funding for high-priority, high impact flood and stormwater projects. That is a good start and I’ll continue to push for more for all sources. The larger projects have much larger costs, so the County needs to find innovative ways to fund and build projects that will yield measurable reductions in the flow of storm water through this area. Further, I support investigating joint projects with the state, federal government, and private sector that can deliver improvements to flooding throughout the area.
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7
Opioids
How would you respond to the opiod overdose epidemic? Should Howard expedite construction of an in-patient drug treatment center?
Weinstein: The opioid epidemic requires a multi-faceted approach to address the impact in Howard County. The medical community, perhaps motivated by changes in federal or state law, should seek minimize the use of opiods in treating patients, except where truly necessary. Further, with the expansion of medical marijuana in Maryland, there’s another treatment option for medical professionals. Studies have shown that states with access to medical marijuana have lower rates of opioid additions. Improved efforts on public awareness on opioid use, addiction, and treatment is another facet to the County’s response. Coordination and collaboration among key players within the government, non-profit, and medical communities can help to stem the rising tide over overdoses. This could include public training and access on the use of antidotes like Naloxone. Again, state and federal support for such programs and in purchasing antidotes are critical to local jurisdictions addressing the epidemic. Lastly, the construction of an in-patient drug treatment center should proceed as quickly as the process and funding allow. The size and scale of such a facility is not likely to be able to meet the immediate demand, so the County needs to play a role in coordinating collaboration access to treatment for our resident in the county and the region.
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8
Public transportation
Has the county invested enough in public transportation projects, including the regional bus network and BikeHoward program?
Weinstein: As a Councilman, I have supported the County’s efforts to improve an antiquated bus network by approving new bus purchase, including hybrids, and providing input on new routes based largely on input from my constituents. The County’s Transit Development Plan has set a process in motion to routinely review bus routes and to make adjustments, as necessary, in a more proactive manner. In addition to promoting improved bus access for residents, I have also supported the addition of bike and pedestrian lanes on many county roads in response to desires expressed by communities across the county. In instances where the inclusion of bike lanes had the potential to compromise the safety and convenience of certain communities and used my influence to prompt further examination and adjustment of the county’s plans. This has led to more thoughtful approaches to integrating bike and pedestrian accessways into the county’s road network. I am proud of my vote as a Councilman to pass the Bike Master Plan, and I followed that vote with my support for the nearly 50 miles of bike infrastructure that will be built in the county over the next three years. I am in the process of evaluating the County Executive’s FY19 budget for bicycle infrastructure. I have learned a great deal about multi-modal transportation as a Councilman and believe the knowledge I have gained positions me to view subsequent transit and road projects and plans in a complete streets mindset that blends sound transportation policy with community needs.
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9
Taxes
The state is recommending a constant yield property tax rate of 99 cents for the budget year ahead, below the current tax rate. Do you support reducing the tax rate to the constant yield level and adopting zero-based budgeting?
Weinstein: I support additional tax setting flexibility offered to local jurisdictions through a constant yield model the State is proposing, but I would only commit to honoring the lower rate if it meant that the public services that residents have come to expect are not compromised. As state leaders weigh the benefits of allowing jurisdictions to set a constant yield tax rate, I would encourage them to view this policy question from both the revenue and expenditure side. Maryland’s population continues to grow, and the cost of services to facilitate a healthy and growing economy must keep pace with revenue. If that revenue is reduced because of a new tax plan, the County Executive and Council have the responsibility to develop alternative strategies to fund unforeseen needs and account for increase in the cost of service, particularly with respect to education and public safety. I don’t believe zero-based budgeting would benefit Howard County with many areas where there are required spending levels, particularly K-12 education. As a Councilman, I have voted on three balanced budgets that were built “traditionally” by the County Administration while evaluated and adjusted by the Council. A zero-based budget process would require county agencies to essentially start from scratch annually, which has the potential to compromise this creativity and distract us from appropriately analyzing funding alterations to existing county services. I do not feel that changing the county’s budgeting approach will improve our ability to pass a balanced budget while funding vital services at the required level.
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