Montgomery County’s new council president wants to seek more opportunities to work with the county’s neighbors on certain projects, after Montgomery successfully banded with Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C., to pass increases in the jurisdictions’ minimum wages.
Council President Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said Tuesday that he’s met with several members of the Prince George’s County Council and plans to meet with members of the D.C. city council in coming weeks to discuss working jointly on several social justice issues.
“All of these problems are regional and affect us all,” Rice said.
One such area he suggested for cooperation would be working with the counties’ delegations to the General Assembly to prevent misdemeanor drug possession convictions from showing up on employment background checks and preventing people from getting jobs.
A bad decision shouldn’t keep someone from getting a job, Rice said.
Fewer people unemployed would also put less of a strain on county programs and services, he said.
“It’s better for us to make sure this person has a job,” he said.
Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) of Upper Marlboro said he thinks there are several opportunities for the jurisdictions to work together, such as universal pre-kindergarten, making sure prisoners returning to their communities are able to find a job and ensuring strong public transportation to make sure people can get to work.
In Montgomery, council presidents are elected by the council and serve one-year terms.
While the Washington metropolitan jurisdictions have worked together in the past, Franklin said the cooperation needs to happen on an ongoing basis.
It’s largely a matter of issues that lend themselves to cooperation arising when the respective jurisdictions have leadership willing to collaborate, he said.
“The opportunity for regional partnerships has always been there,” he said.
Rice was attending a Maryland Association of Counties conference in Cambridge from Wednesday through Friday, and said he was looking forward to meeting with colleagues from Frederick and Howard counties to talk about areas where they could collaborate with Montgomery.