Name: Michael A. Sesma

Address: 710 Hope Lane, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Age: born 1953

Occupation: Health Scientist Administrator at NIH, Neuroscientist

Education: PhD in Psychology, UC Riverside 1981

BA in Biology and Psychology, UC San Diego, 1976

Marital status, children: married, 3 children

Number of years you have been a city resident: since February 1995

Previous elected/candidate experience:

Gaithersburg City Council, 2005—present

Alderman, City of Pasadena Hills, St Louis County, MO, 1986-87, 1990-92

Committee/board memberships:

Trustee, City of Pasadena Hills, MO, 1992-94

Web site:

Facebook/Twitter: N/A

More detailed biographical information was provided to the city with my candidate petitions.

Q. What are your top three priorities for the next four years if elected?

Develop a comprehensive strategy for economic development for the entire city that positions us to attract, and retain business investment in Gaithersburg, strengthens its economic vitality, expands the diversity of business types, and provides stable employment for the city and region.

Safeguard the factors that make Gaithersburg a great environment for families and businesses by maintaining, supporting and providing modern facilities, efficient and reliable services, supports outstanding schools, manageable traffic, safe neighborhoods and streets, and an overall high quality of life.

Innovate, create, and implement programs that promote sustainable building practices, environmental protection, and energy conservation that contribute economic benefits for the city, its residents and businesses.

Q. What's your plan to provide more affordable housing in Gaithersburg?

I've worked since my 2005 election on this issue. Prior to my election the city did not have an affordable housing policy or ordinances. The need for such a policy was a major element of my platform. As a council member I advocated for a comprehensive affordable housing policy, which was adopted by the city council. The policy requires work force and moderately priced housing to be included in every project that exceeds 20 units. Requirements for multifamily rental must be 15% MPDU; Requirements for owner occupied projects require 7.5 % MPDU and 7.5% WFU. Eligibility for MPDU or WFU is based on a percentage of area median income. To maximize the benefits of affordability the ordinance also requires energy efficient building practices. Associated with the policy is mandated developer funded relocation assistance for displaced residents who also have priority for affordable units once they are available. These are just some of the elements of the Affordable Housing Policy. It is a dynamic process as well and will continue to evolve as we go forward with its implementation. The city has several approved residential projects that will provide over 400 units of affordable multifamily and single family houses. The recent change in ownership of a large apartment complex of over 700 units also resulted in an immediate inventory of affordable rental units. Renovation of the West Deer Park Apartment complex (now Amber Commons) also added units to the available inventory.

Our approach to affordable housing also emphasizes homeownership and transitioning individuals and families from rental to ownership. To make living in the city more affordable for city employees we provide a stipend program. We also partner with public and private agencies and organizations to address access to affordable housing, foreclosure prevention, homeownership opportunities.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I bring a long range, big picture perspective with a commitment to realistic solutions for the problems facing the city, its residents and businesses. I'm willing to discuss any issue and believe that our decisions should always seek the win-win outcome rather than winners and losers.

Q: What's your approach to and plan for economic development in Gaithersburg?

There is no single magic bullet or fool proof solution to successful economic development. A successful plan for Economic development demands a broad approach and understanding that nearly every aspect of what makes the city the place it is contributes to its economic development or lack thereof. Schools, roads, transportation, parks, recreation programs, city services, land use, neighborhoods, residential demographics all contribute to the business environment. There is no single approach or plan or easy set of solutions to this issue. We can learn from other cities and governments; we can develop partnerships and incentives to attract and retain commercial development, enhance the return on investment, educate and train the workforce; we can market and brand the city; we can make sure that city services are efficient and reliable. Most importantly, the city must emphasize that the qualities that make the city a great place for families also make it a great place for businesses. The most important aspect of such a plan is how we start and to do that we must effectively communicate locally, regionally, nationally and internationally the opportunities and support that exists for businesses already in the city and those considering locating in Montgomery County and Maryland.

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 will be in my mid 80's and I believe I will see a Gaithersburg that is a major employment center and destination in the county, home to businesses that originate from the science and technology related facilities and industries that are based here now but also a hub of high quality and diverse retail, entertainment and hospitality. Gaithersburg will still have a strong sense of place and quality living. The city will be a more pedestrian friendly environment including urban and mixed-use residential and commercial centers or cores and a connecting network of efficient and reliable public transit systems that extend the regional mass transit systems and reduce the need for automobiles. The older, suburban neighborhoods will still be here too and complemented by mixed use communities with a diverse range of housing options appropriate to their proximity to the urban cores and transportation options. Our preserved green space in both active and passive parks will be a major feature that distinguishes the city. Getting to this point will require the same careful Master Plan approach for land use, and infrastructure development that has served the city very well up to this point. It will also require a much more proactive approach to developing public transit systems in the corridor in addition to the CCT (which hopefully will have been in place for a decade or two) and a comprehensive strategy for economic development that includes innovative approaches to redevelopment opportunities throughout the city.