Hi, I’m Jim McNulty…
I’ve struggled with what to do with this page following my unsuccessful campaign for City Council in 2017. We came up only 500 votes short! Despite my loss in the election, I’ve remained active in our community. Last year, I was elected Chair of the Olde Towne Advisory Committee, which is a subcommittee of the City of Gaithersburg’s Economic Development Committee. My term as president of the Saybrooke Homeowner’s Association ended in November 2018, freeing me up to join the St. Martin’s School Advisory Board. I was also appointed to the school’s finance committee. The PTSD Support Group I founded in 2012 continues to serve survivors of trauma out of St. Patrick’s Parish in Rockville.
I did spend a good amount of time in 2018 advocating for one of the biggest priorities in my 2017 campaign—a new elementary school for the east side of Gaithersburg. Once it was announced that Kelley Park was the preferred site following the MCPS site selection study, I worked with the Saybrooke HOA’s Board and management company to arrange a Town Hall meeting at the Upcounty Community Center with Board of Education member Rebecca Smondrowski and members of the MCPS staff. We also invited residents of surrounding communities to give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and raise their concerns about the proposed site. I testified before both the Board of Education and Gaithersburg City Council in favor of building the new school, but did so including the many concerns that would need to be addressed through the process.
A shared school-park space at Kelley Park—or in the alternative, at Victory Farm Park across from Forest Oak Middle School—could be transformational for the east side of our city, provided that the surrounding neighborhoods actually get to attend the school. I raised the issue of how Forest Oak was handled 20 years ago, both to the Board of Education and to the City Council, and encouraged both to find a way to assuage opponents’ fears and address the very valid concerns of the residents who live closest to the park.
Besides the school, I remain committed to improving transportation concerns in our area. I continue to support “all of the above” solutions to our traffic and transit issues. We need 2-way, all-day MARC trains on the Brunswick Line. We also need to connect the ends of the Red Line and Silver Line via a shared Potomac crossing that could connect I-370 and VA-28. We need to widen I-270 without taking away private homes. But I don’t necessarily agree that the toll lanes should be reversible. Why? Because that reemphasizes the mindset that the 270 corridor is only a feeder system for inside the Beltway. We need more jobs here in Gaithersburg and places north, so the idea of a “counter-commute” becomes more attractive.
Speaking of Upcounty, I continue to support building M83 to provide the infrastructure that was promised when communities like Clarksburg were built. Without it, side streets like Brink Road will continue to be asked to handle amounts of traffic for which it was never designed. To say building infrastructure only creates “sprawl” is an insult to the people who live in these communities. The term “Sprawl” implies that only communities down-county are important. People choose to live upcounty for a better cost of living and better standard of living. Our government has a responsibility to provide the infrastructure that was promised to these communities, not to try to social-engineer families into using public transportation—through transit options they haven’t even provided yet, either!
I’m excited at the potential that exists just over the horizon. The Future of Lakeforest could be coming sooner than we imagine. Olde Towne continues its revival. The Kentlands is beginning its reimagination. Big things are happening at Rio, and Downtown Crown continues to take shape. And everywhere in between, 70,000 people call the most diverse small city in America home.
As I told Ben Shnider when he came up short in his campaign for county council, we don’t have to get elected to be advocates for our community. I know he will continue to be a voice for our community, and I will continue to do the same.