Part one can be found here. In the second half of Bethesda Now’s sit-down with County Executive Isiah Leggett, we discussed a potential gas tax, the ongoing battle over police over bargaining rights, attracting millenials and his legacy if he remains out of the 2014 county executive candidate field.
Bethesda Now: What’s your reaction to the FOP’s request for an investigation into whether you and other county officials acted illegally in promoting your view on the effects bargaining referendum?
Leggett: We’ve already looked at that. So I don’t know what it is that needs to be reviewed. We can give them the opinion of the county attorney. I wouldn’t have authorized any kind of effort unless we had some legal opinion that said it was appropriate. That happened.
I’m not sure there’s anything from our perspective to look at this if they’re going to challenge, legally, the position of the county attorney. But there’s nothing for me to look at unless a court gives it a different legal analysis. Based on the county attorney’s opinion, we are doing things that are appropriate.
We are simply defending the county law. We are not going out to create a new law. Under the auspices of that, we are doing what is appropriate. That’s a little bit different than saying you’re going out to do something that you’re fighting for that’s not there. But we’re defending the law that’s already been enacted.
Bethesda Now: Are you surprised by the nature of the fight over this, the back-and-forth?
Leggett: No. I think that signifies part of the problem.
On one hand, if effects bargaining was not so different, not so unusual and away from a typical, mainstream collective bargaining agreement, there would be no need to have it nor a need to fight for it so hard.
The fact that you’re fighting and want to have this particular status to me indicates that it is unusual. That in many ways reaffirms the position that this is an unusual set of circumstances and conditions that are in place for which you have to fight for. If what you’re saying is if this is nothing that has been unusual and most people have adjusted to this, I don’t think this would be a fight.
Bethesda Now: Should the county do more, has it done enough to attract millenials, younger people to the county?
Leggett: We could always do more with it. But I think the things that attract young people are the things that attract most other people as well. They want to have a decent job, a job that is consistent, a job that pays well and a job with some long term prospects for growth and development in terms of career path. I think our employment base here in the county clearly demonstrates that.
The second thing young people want I think, is to know that if they’re starting a family, they’ve got schools and those schools are quality schools and they feel comfortable with the area.
The third thing, the other quality of life thing is making sure that public safety is good. If you look at our crime statistics, we are significantly down in terms of crime now. Those are the kinds of things that young people want.
They also want some other things that are unique to young people. They want quality development that is probably mixed-use development where things are in close proximity. You can go to the movies, you can go dining, you can go to work and you can shop and all of those things are all within walking distance because everything is compacted together. And I think if you look at the county in terms of where we are now and what we are doing for the foreseeable future, all of those things are quite evident.
With the town center in Rockville, the new town center in Gaithersburg and all of those places around the county you see that, and you’re going to see it in North Bethesda with the development of White Flint.
Those are things that attract young people and I think you will continue to see more of that as we move forward. We’ll continue to build that tax base.
Bethesda Now: Are you thinking about another term?
Bethesda Now: This is it?
Leggett: Well, I’ve been under a lot of pressure to reconsider. But I indicated when I was running, I was going to do two terms. That’s the understanding I have with my wife and so unless she changes her mind. She hasn’t indicated any change yet. I haven’t changed mine. But, you know, it’s a long ways away from the next election and clearly things can in fact change. But as I’m sitting here today, I don’t anticipate it.