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Jurgena and Rice Square Off in District 2 Council Race


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By Kevin O’Rourke

Republican challenger Dick Jurgena is challenging Democratic incumbent Craig Rice for the District 2 County Council Seat.

Jurgena—a 75-year-old, cowboy hat wearing small business owner—is a Darnestown resident whose main campaign battle cry is ending one-party rule in Montgomery County. “There is currently only one elected official in all of Montgomery County who is not a Democrat,” said Jurgena on his campaign website. “I believe that is creating such one-sided views of the county's programs and policies that we are following the footsteps of Detroit and Chicago to bankruptcy.”

Jurgena says he is not a career politician. He is running to end one-party rule. He would also like to set eight-year or two-term limits on all members of the County Council, and has pledged to serve no more than two terms, if elected.

Of course to get elected, Jurgena must beat incumbent Craig Rice who is running for his second term. Rice will also finish up his year-long stint as Council President after the election in November.

Rice, 42, is a career politician. He served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 2006 to 2010 where he was on the Ways and Means Committee, a member of both its Education and Revenues subcommittees. He also served on Montgomery Delegation's Land Use and Transportation Committee.

Rice and his wife and three daughters live in Germantown. He has been a resident of Montgomery County for his whole life. Jurgena and his wife of 48 years have been county residents for 44 years, and have two grown sons and a granddaughter.

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The two candidates have different ideas on how to foster economic prosperity in the county. Jurgena believes the county must cut spending and reduce taxes. “Under our current Montgomery County administration the cycle has been for the last several years, spend more than revenue, tax to undo resulting debt, increase regulations, lose businesses and wage earners to nearby states, see revenue decrease, spend more and so on. How is that working out for us? We are going broke,” Jurgena says on his website. “Let's cut spending to below revenue, lower taxes and curtail regulations, stop the flow of businesses and wage earners to other states, increase the number of taxpayers, collect more taxes, pay off debt, cut spending and so on.”

Rice’s sees growth of private sector jobs as imperative to sustaining a healthy growth in the county.

“We should be making it easier for county businesses to hire and expand, rather than making it more expensive to grow the workforce. We must ensure that our business climate is one that has a fair and sustainable tax climate,” said Rice on his campaign website.

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Rice also sees the threat of jobs leaving the county. “And we need to provide important additional economic development tools for Montgomery County as it competes with other jurisdictions and seeks to attract and retain companies. Economic development is not just about taxes, but a broader menu of policies including: maintaining the county's traditionally high quality of life; connecting county businesses to potential customers, including the federal government; building and sustaining a 21st century transportation system; and keeping our schools strong so employers can build their workforce locally. Ultimately the goal is to protect the future financial stability of Montgomery County and its residents.”

Jurgena wants to encourage entrepreneurial and innovative businesses by offering tax credits for capital investments. He would also reduce the scope of collective bargaining to exclude benefits and “limit bargaining on wages, as the Governor of Wisconsin did,” according to his campaign website.

Jurgena would also reduce the impact fees land owners are required to pay to construct a commercial building in the county.

“A business owner in Clarksburg tells me he owns a piece of land next door to where he now rents,” reads Jurgena’s website. “He wants to build a place for his growing business. Before he can start designing the building, he will have to pay a Transportation Impact Fee of $25,000 and an Education Impact Fee, another $25,000. That's $50,000 he must spend before he can begin designing his building in earnest. And all told, with water, sewer and electrical hook-up fees, he is looking at $60,000 before he even drives the first nail.”