Name: Sidney A. Katz
Address: 811 Pointer Ridge Drive, Gaithersburg
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business and Public Administration, University of Maryland
Marital status: Married
Children: Two daughters
Number of years you have been a city resident: 59
Previous elected/candidate experience: Gaithersburg Mayor, previously City Council and Planning Commission
Committee/board memberships: Maryland Municipal League (Board of Directors and past President), Member of the Wells-Robertson Board of Directors.
Q. What are your top three priorities for the next four years if elected?
Budget - Keep the City debt free. We have not raised the tax rate in the city for 45 years and have a pay as you go philosophy. I am proud of both of these accomplishments.
Improve and expand city transportation systems and school facilities. Expanded transportation options make possible job growth and greener travel. Students should not have to learn in schools that are too crowded, or out of date.
Relationships- Maintain and enhance our relationships with Federal, State, County and the private and nonprofit community to have the strongest partnerships possible so that we can improve our transportion, schools and safety.
Q. What's your plan to provide more affordable housing in Gaithersburg?
The city currently has an affordable housing program that was developed to help ensure that households at a range of incomes are able to live within the City. I expect that new affordable units will be available in the next year under this program.
Although the program was modeled after the Montgomery County's Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program, the City's program also provides for workforce housing. Families who were displaced from multi-family properties since 2006, and priority workers such as teachers and public safety employees, are eligible to apply for rental and homeownership units that are priced to be affordable to households between 50 and 120 percent of Area Median Income. The law applies only to new construction outside the Enterprise zone, but the city has also negotiated additional affordable units in existing developments. Any new rental developments must have a minimum of 15 percent MPDU and if it is a homeownership project it must have a minimum of 7.5 percent MPDU and 7.5 percent Work force housing.
Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates?
Experience, dedication to the community, strong relationships both throughout the community and with Federal, State and Local officials. I realize that the Mayor is a part of a team with the City Council, City Staff and above all the Citizens of Gaithersburg that must work together to be successful.
I am proud to say that I am involved everyday working in someway to try to make our community the "Greatest City In The World."
Accessibility. I am always available to speak to everyone about concerns involving the city. I pride myself on being responsive.
I signed the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement and I believe the City and every citizen needs to take steps to help the environment.
I have testified before the Montgomery County Board of Education on behalf of the schools that our students attend, and will continue to let them know what our schools need. When the Governor was here during the past year we had a "town hall meeting" for the students in our area at Gaithersburg High School so that the Governor could see first hand the problems and issues involved with the school building.
Q: What's your approach to and plan for economic development in Gaithersburg?
We have often said that during extraordinary times we need extraordinary measures. Economic development is something that must be worked on a continuous basis not just during elections.
We are in a difficult economic period and that certainly has impacted many projects that have been approved, but due to financial constraints, construction has not yet started. The city needs to assess the key factors holding these projects back, and find ways to move them forward.
Economic Development is not "one size fits all" and we need to constantly determine what is and what is not working and make appropriate adjustments.
We need to take a balanced approach. We must maintain an overall plan for marketing the city: for example "buy Gaithersburg," attract desirable businesses and make those who are here and those who want to be here aware of what we have to offer. It is important to evaluate individual needs for various commercial and residential areas throughout the city.
We have met with the owners of Lakeforest mall and need to continue to work with them to bring about redevelopment and enhancement of that site. We need to encourage creative planning for the Lakeforest area.
All of us, the citizens, the elected officials and our professional staff must consider all that we are doing and what changes should be made. As an example, we need to reconsider our parking requirements. We must be certain they are adequate but at the same time insure that they are not unreasonably high.
Q: As city and county leaders discuss development and redevelopment, the Gaithersburg West Master Plan and major transportation projects such as the Corridor Cities Transitway and improvements to Interstate 270, a key question has arisen: What do you want the city to be like 30 years from now and what steps should be taken to get it there?
In 30 years I would hope the Mayor, elected officials and citizens of Gaithersburg are able to continue to say we are the "Greatest City In The World." This will not be accomplished by promises and rhetoric but will be accomplished by our dedication and hard work.
It is important that we have the infrastructure in place as new construction begins and that existing neighborhoods are not adversely affected by any traffic changes. We need substantial improvements in our transportation network and better facilities for our schools. The Corridor Cities Transitway is critical for our city and we need to work with the State to have the MARC trains become more efficient and run throughout the day.
We need to continue to strive for a better quality of life for all who live, work, learn or play in the city. We must be flexible but not compromise on design and workmanship.
Technology will continue to be a key in the future, more and more people will be able to work from their homes and we need to make certain that we have the newest and most efficient infrastructure on the information highway.
We must also make certain that we are using all of the resources possible that are available from the State and County.
I am proud to have assisted Gaithersburg in the past and believe that we need my experience and dedication to make certain that our future is equally proud.