Like many people in Montgomery County, Terrill North spent time working as a congressional staffer.
When he left Capitol Hill and started working with a series of progressive organizations, North found himself attending a lot of meetings on the same topics with different people.
Now a candidate for Montgomery’s District 5 council seat, North said the experience led him to decide that if he were elected to public office, he would make an effort to “stand in the gap” and try to bring people with similar ideas together.
That idea would work well in District 5, which is made up of a diverse group of people all living together, North said.
“We want everybody at the table,” he said.
North is one of five candidates running for the District 5 council seat vacated in January when Councilwoman Valerie Ervin resigned to become the CEO of the nonprofit Center for Working Families.
Del. Tom Hucker, Board of Education member Christopher S. Barclay and community activists Evan Glass and Jeffrey Thames also are seeking the seat.
Councilwoman Cherri Branson (D) was appointed to serve out the rest of Ervin’s term, but agreed not to run in the 2014 election as a prerequisite for receiving the appointment.
Ervin and Branson recently endorsed Barclay. However, North said the race won’t be won by a legacy being passed on, but by communities coming together behind a candidate.
While a Capitol Hill staffer for former Congressman Marty Meehan (D) of Massachusetts and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D) of New York, North said, he worked on projects including helping to pass ethics reform and preserving a youth program expected to lose funding.
“Those are the skills that I want to bring to [the] council,” he said.
North said he wants to be a council member to get a better sense of the problems people face and to help more people.
On the council, North would focus on closing the achievement gap in the county’s schools.
The county can’t put the full burden of closing the gap on the schools, and needs to use more social programs to provide a more comprehensive approach to helping students, North said.
To help do that, he would provide a tax credit for people who mentor at-risk youths. He also would expand existing resources for after-school programs for at-risk youths, putting them in more communities in the county.
North wants to promote small businesses in the county by leveraging a bus rapid transit system to create opportunities for economic development and streamlining regulations to help small businesses expand.
He would try to expand the number and variety of business incubators in the county.
“Instead of arguing about what types of incubators we should have, we need to do all of the above,” he said.
The Democratic primary will be held on June 24 and the general election on Nov. 4.