IKE LEGGETT for Montgomery County Executive
4401 Dustin Road – Burtonsville, Maryland 20866
August 2, 2006
The labels applied to the two Democrats running for county executive in the primary next month are strikingly similar: Progressive moderates. Supporters of first-class public education. Backers of better transportation, human services, public safety and affordable housing.
The platforms of Isiah “Ike” Leggett and Steve Silverman differ by degrees and each man has the qualifications to step into the office vacated by Douglas M. Duncan after a dozen years.
Both have a solid grasp of key issues, having served on the County Council, and both can be expected to govern Montgomery County responsibly.
Yet Ike Leggett earns our endorsement largely through his uncommon mix of collaborative leadership skills, integrity, intellect, and an inner drive that carried him from poverty in Louisiana to a life of achievement in education, the military and politics.
Leggett is best qualified to guide a county about to grow beyond 1 million residents and a county still coming to grips with growth, traffic gridlock, profound demographic shifts and a moderating economy.
Leggett’s more deliberative, professorial tone begets an air of credibility and fosters a level of trust that will serve Montgomery well in good or hard times.
From modest beginnings growing up with a dozen siblings in an impoverished setting, he refused to take “no” for an answer when rebuffed in attempts to enroll in college and then served as a military leader in Vietnam, receiving the Bronze Star, a medal for bravery and service with merit.
His professional resume is impressive. He has been a law school professor and administrator and was the first African-American elected to the County Council, where he advocated for more money for schools and youths, housing, environmental protection and reasonable growth controls, while keeping reins on unwarranted spikes in taxes and fees.
Taking over as chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party after stinging losses in 2002 when the state’s dominant party lost control of the governor’s office for the first time in nearly four decades, Leggett helped provide a measure of stability.
Leggett’s opponents claim his leadership is too passive and that in the current campaign he has experienced “election-year conversions” on key issues. While his conflict of interest over land he owned in the path of the Intercounty Connector allowed him to sit on the sidelines during this most contentious of issues, Leggett’s accomplishments over 16 years as a councilman are substantive. His network of endorsements could be problematic for those who prefer a county executive unencumbered by such interests, but we trust Leggett to tackle the issues without sacrificing principled ways. He knows how to lead.
For his part, Silverman’s notable work on issues such as transportation, affordable housing, economic development, education and redevelopment of his home base in Silver Spring are tempered by critics who believe that he is a politician with at-times unbridled ambition. While some see him as a forward- thinking decision-maker, others worry that he is too much the dealmaker given to imprudent acts. And with his campaign coffers filled by developers who have contributed generously, still others worry how beholden he would be if elected.
While there may be some merit in these criticisms, they are largely overstated in the heat of the campaign. Silverman, while not our choice, brings a viable candidacy.
In summary, there is a reason a million people live in Montgomery County. It is called quality of life. The county is blessed with abundant resources and our problems pale in comparison to places where drugs and crime and deteriorating schools and economic decline overwhelm communities. Our challenge is to be grateful for what we have and wise enough to bring this quality of life to all who live and work here.
We believe Ike Leggett can carry this banner and urge his election as the next county executive.