If you're still an undecided voter, don't worry. Just wait a decade or so, and we've got the candidate for you.
Michaelina Panner—a fifth-grader at Somerset Elementary School—would have a lot of people's votes if she ever decides to run for public office.
Michaelina was a semi-finalist in the statewide Maryland Municipal League's "If I Were Mayor" essay contest and her essay was selected by the Town of Somerset as the town's winning essay, which she read at the town's October council meeting.
Temporarily taking over Mayor Jeffrey Slavin's seat, she talked of the need for a town's different generations to come together to form a true community, including these excerpts:
If I were mayor, I would focus on the true meaning of community. I would address the challenges elderly people without family close by face .... A true community is more than a helping hand. No one should feel left out. People need companionship. We can provide it.
I would start a service-learning project for our school and community. Every senior would be paired with a younger person. They would benefit, as would I.
Our community will be open and accepting. Anyone would be glad to live in a neighborhood like this.
--Advocacy group Bethesda Cares is heading up an initiative to place homeless men and women into permanent housing as a part of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a nationwide effort aimed to house 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless individuals by July of 2013. The initiative focuses on placing the most vulnerable “chronically homeless”—those most at risk of dying on the streets—into permanent housing, rather than shelters or substance abuse programs.
--How many hungry people could government and community programs feed if wasted food was redistributed to those in need? Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Dist 5) announced Friday that she wants to start a food recovery program in Montgomery County based on a model created by Montgomery County students at the University of Maryland. The students have donated more than 30,000 meals, according to a release from the county council. “Hunger is an ever-increasing problem in our county,” Ervin said in a statement. “The food recovery initiative will not only help our area non-profit organizations who fight hunger, but should also reduce the amount of food that ends up in our waste stream."
In Public Safety News:
--Police made an arrest in an attempted robbery in the Capital Crescent Tunnel that runs beneath Wisconsin Avenue. The tunnel has entrances near the Bethesda Row Cinema on the west side of Wisconsin and Elm Street Park on the east side and has been the scene of several other assaults in recent months, according to police.
--A Silver Spring man admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a scheme as an attendant at the parking lot of the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, according to The Washington Post.
--Winston Churchill High School students got a chilling lesson when a staged 911 call went over the school's intercom, alerting students that an accident, possibly fatal, occurred in front of the school. When students rushed outside, they witnessed police handcuffing the driver as a victim was taken to Shady Grove Hospital. Fortunately for students and the community, all of it was fake. It was part of the “Every 15 Minutes” program, a national partnership program between schools, hospitals, fire and rescue and police that uses staged, simulated events to educate students on the dangers of drunk and distracted driving.
--Maryland's Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown joined other elected and law enforcements officials and victims' advocates in Rockville to mark the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month by touting two new laws to protect victims of domestic abuse. The first allows someone who leaves a job to escape the threat of domestic violence to be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The second requires judges to report crimes as domestic violence-related if it's proven that a defendant and victim have a "domestically related relationship.”
--Damaged library books are getting their fix behind bars, thanks to inmates at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds. Through a workforce re-entry project, trained inmates are repairing damaged books so that the books can be returned to circulation. Inmates can earn “good time credit” toward reducing their sentence, county officials said. The most recent round of rehabilitated books will head to Kensington Park, Marilyn J. Praisner, Noyes (Children’s Library), Rockville Memorial, Silver Spring and Wheaton.
In Economic News:
--Montgomery County bonds have again been deemed the soundest investment possible, one of the few county governments nationwide to receive a AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies, officials announced last week. The top-tier rating means the county will find better interest rates on its capital borrowing. Fitch, Standard & Poor's and Moody's cited the strength of the county’s economic base, as well as steps taken to right the fiscal imbalance that emerged as revenues fell off during the most recent recession, according to a county statement.
--The Montgomery County Council has approved a re-zoning application that paves the way for a plan to raze four Battery Lane apartment buildings and replace them with three residential developments, The Gazette reports. County Councilman Marc Elrich (D-At Large) said the plan takes apartments renting at a lower market rate and replaces them with apartments that could command higher rates, according to The Gazette.
-For a slideshow of the moving vigil in Gaithersburg marking the 10th anniversary of the DC sniper attack, go here.