Montgomery Council candidate looks to address income inequality, marijuana laws -- Gazette.Net


When Neda Bolourian was in fifth grade, she made her political debut when a letter she wrote to President Bill Clinton was included in a book of such correspondence titled “Dear Mr. President.”

Clinton had a youthful energy when he came to office in 1993 that excited her and many of her friends, Bolourian said.

Now Bolourian, 32, of Gaithersburg is looking to enter politics herself, seeking a seat on the Montgomery County Council from District 2, which includes Damascus, Clarksburg and Germantown.

The race pits her against current council President Craig L. Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown in the June 24 Democratic primary.

The winner will run against Republican Dick Jurgena in the Nov. 4 general election.

Bolourian briefly ran for the House of Delegates in 2006 before withdrawing because of an illness in her family.

Although she’s had a long interest in running for office, Bolourian said she was particularly motivated this year by her frustration with the council’s vote in October to increase the pay of the next council from $104,000 per year to $125,000 per year.

Bolourian said she thought that with the current state of the economy in the county and number of homeless residents and families in Montgomery, she thought the pay raise was unnecessary.

An attorney, Bolourian worked in law school for a tax clinic helping low-income clients. She said income inequality is a major emphasis of her campaign, and she supports vote by the council in November to raise the minimum wage in the county to $11.50 an hour by 2017.

She believes the council also has to look at taxes in the county, particularly lowering payroll and property taxes as ways to help low-income families and small businesses.

Bolourian said she wants to see Montgomery continue to provide many of the popular and needed services it currently does, along with increased mental health and substance abuse services.

Much of the revenue that would be lost by lowering certain taxes in the county could be generated by getting Maryland’s law changed to allow individual counties to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of marijuana, she said.

Marijuana could bring a lot of money and business to the county and provide funding for a variety of programs, Bolourian said.

She envisions the drug being regulated similarly to alcohol, available only to adults and with rules to limit driving under the influence of it and to make sure it’s regulated and used responsibly, she said.

Substance abuse is another of Bolourian’s points of emphasis for the campaign.

Having grown up in Damascus, she said she knows many people who have lost family members or had their lives impacted by heroin use, and would like to see after-school programs and other resources made available for dealing with substance abuse in Montgomery.

She also wants to focus on creating more sustainable growth in the county.

Bolourian said she supports the council’s recent vote to limit development in the Ten Mile Creek area, but believes the county needs to continue to be vigilant and not overdevelop the area.