Dana Beyer (left) with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

Dana Beyer is a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates, District 18, which includes Wheaton, Kensington, Chevy Chase, and Woodside (west Silver Spring). Dana lives in Chevy Chase and has spent much of her career as a medical doctor.  She has also long served as a Senior Assistant to Montgomery County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large).

On her website, Dana explicitly endorses funding and building the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, dedicated funding mechanisms for the Metro, and a long-term, fix-it-first orientation on road spending. 

Dana recently took some of her precious time to answer some questions that explain some of her positions in greater detail on issues for southern Montgomery, Maryland, and the Greater Washington region by extension.

1) What strategies will you employ as you work to bring the Purple Line as endorsed by Governor O’Malley, a project that you support, to groundbreaking?

At this point, the project has been approved by all relevant authorities, including Park and Planning and the County Councils, as well as the County Executives and Governor. I would meet with all the elected representatives through whose districts the Purple Line will run, and develop a unified and comprehensive stance.

This will include persuading any legislators who are elected this fall and who oppose the Purple Line. Today, this group is currently led by District 18 State Senator Madaleno, along with Delegates Carr and Waldstreicher. Madaleno and Carr are also actively working to undermine the project.

The major obstacle is funding, and the funding is absent not simply because of an absence of money, but because of a lack of will. With interest rates near historic lows, Maryland should be generously financing these public transit projects, as well as other highway projects.

We should create a public benefit corporation similar to New York’s Triborough Bridge Authority, which was created by the New York state legislature in 1933 to build New York City’s highway system. This authority built most of New York’s highway system during the Great Depression, and beginning in the 1960’s, excess toll revenues were spent to upgrade and expand public transportation. I don’t know why such an approach would not work here, and I will work towards such a solution for funding of all our state’s mass transit projects.

2) On your website, you articulate your detailed views about the role of taxation in our society.  You also emphasize the need for the Maryland House of Delegates to be proactive rather than sitting back and waiting for the Governor to submit his/her budget.  What taxation and budget policies do you envision proposing as a Delegate representing the 18th District?

Taxes are the price we pay for our civilization.  No one has accumulated wealth simply on the basis of his or her own exertions outside of the greater community. We all benefit from and depend on our public works, such as schools, hospitals, parks, libraries, and law enforcement officials.

As a founder and leader of the Progressive Working Group, Maryland’s newer progressive coalition, I have lobbied to develop and maintain progressive tax policies. Unfortunately, this year, the Maryland General Assembly allowed the millionaire’s tax bracket to sunset. None of the District 18 delegates co-sponsored Delegate Ivey’s bill to stop the sunset.

In addition, large multi-state corporations are still allowed to avoid Maryland taxes. A process known as combined reporting would disallow this practice and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars annually. 23 states already prevent such tax avoidance. The current District 18 delegates are led on this matter by Senator Madaleno, who strongly opposes combined reporting, as well as progressive taxation in general.

I believe that neither progressive taxation nor combined reporting will drive millionaires or corporations to ferry across the Potomac to live in Fairfax County, a common mantra from many conservative-leaning Democrats in Montgomery County.

The basic fact is that the County has reached the limit of its taxing ability and is now resorting to nuisance taxes such as the 80% increase in the energy tax and the new cell phone taxes, as well as the ambulance fee. The only way to pay for the services we prize here in the County is through adequate, progressive, equitable and sustainable taxation from Annapolis.

Any other taxes should be progressive and not target the middle class, unless they serve an overriding purpose which benefits the middle class as well as everyone else.

3) Recently, the Washington Post took note that Maryland’s smart growth laws have been “toothless.” As you are aware, downtown Wheaton has been designated as a “Smart Growth Area” by the state of Maryland. As a delegate, what steps would you take to advance progress in Wheaton?

I will work closely with the Montgomery County Council and Parks and Planning to move our smart growth projects forward, the most recent being White Flint and the Great Seneca Science Center. Currently, communication between the Council and the state delegation is very poor.  As a Council staffer who knows the elected Councilmembers as well as their staffs and the permanent staff, I will be uniquely suited to serve as a bridge between the two bodies.

If we [Montgomery County] are ever to be taken seriously as the economic power in Maryland, we need to present an assertive united front.  Our County does produce 24% of the state’s GDP with only 17% of its population.

The Wheaton sector plan is currently under discussion and should appear before the Council next year. We’ve recognized that Wheaton will not become like Bethesda or Silver Spring, but be more of a residential center. I support that form of development.

While I do not see the importation of Costco as a smart growth move, as few would shop at Costco via Metro, a solid majority of the neighboring residents seem to desire Costco and I support the County Exec’s plan. However, I oppose the fast-track creation of a 16 bay gas station on public health grounds. It should be called what it really is — a truck stop. 

I also intend to introduce legislation that will mandate equipping all gas station pumps with advanced vapor recovery nozzles to minimize ground level ozone. Wheaton already has 14 gas stations, and we need to reduce this major factor in smog production and pulmonary disease.

Disclosure: I reside in District 18.

Cavan Wilk became interested in the physical layout and economic systems of modern human settlements while working on his Master’s in Financial Economics. His writing often focuses on the interactions between a place’s form, its economic systems, and the experiences of those who live in them.  He lives in downtown Silver Spring.