David Yungmann: On the RecordI care deeply about our community. That is why I feel it important to be open and transparent about where I stand on the issues.
Want to know where David stands on the important issues in our County? See the Q&A below!
Q. The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is lauded as one of our great assets in Howard County. Where does it fit within your priorities?
A. I am a proud product of the HCPSS, as are both of my children, and I have been a very active participant – for nearly two decades – in the grassroots efforts to shape its policy, governance, and the conditions of its individual schools. I am, however, cautious on the budgetary issues, and believe that our school spending must be balanced with other County priorities and services.
Q. What form does that budgetary caution take, in your mind?
A. The school system’s budget is more than 50% of the total county budget so we can’t be writing blank checks. I support efforts by the County Council and County Executive to have greater oversight on HCPSS spending and favor a reasonable audit process.
Q. What about school overcrowding?
A. We have complex APFO (adequate public facilities ordinance) regulations and numerous school polygons closed to development, yet several schools are grossly overcrowded. HCPSS must develop better ways to project enrollment from both new homes and turnover of existing communities. Reliable planning is critical if we are going to maintain a predictable and managed environment for property owners, developers, the school system and County government.
Q. Many have called for a change in how Board of Education (BOE) members are elected. Where do you stand?
A. Currently, BOE members are elected in county-wide elections which I believe serves to protect incumbents, discourage challengers and allow BOE members to hide in a crowd instead of being accountable to a specific district. I support elections by local districts.
Zoning and Development
Q. Zoning, development, and land use are some of the most contentious issues in local government. What are your guiding principles regarding the respective rights and responsibilities of the county and its property owners?
A. When I reflect upon my hundreds of hours devoted to development and zoning issues over the years – from promoting the redevelopment of Downtown Columbia to leading the opposition of the Dar-Us-Salam mosque/school project in Cooksville – I can summarize my ideal public policy in four pillars:
Reliability: Property owners, including both residents and businesses, deserve a high level of reliability and predictability on how they can use their property, how their neighbors can use their properties, and what the immediate community will look like into the future. There is too much ambiguity in the zoning laws, and too many ways through which the intensity level of property uses can be increased.
Relief: We must relieve residents of the burden of proof to oppose a development and shift that burden of proof to the developer to demonstrate a community need and low impact. Changes such as conditional uses should include an obligation for the applicant to demonstrate the meeting of a community need.
Reductions: We need reductions in the bulk requirements governing institutional uses in Rural Conservation and Rural Residential districts so projects that are approved are not of the same large scale as would be permitted in the higher density areas of the County.
Redevelopment: Redeveloping aging neighborhoods and further developing communities that already have density should be prioritized over further development in the rural west.
Q. What issues are particularly important in District 5?
A. Farming/agriculture and the large inventory of undeveloped land
Agriculture: Farming was the backbone of Howard County’s economy and culture for several hundred years. We still have dozens of generational farm families, many of which made the preservation of over 30,000 acres of land in our County possible. But population growth and restrictive environmental laws have presented numerous challenges. I wholly support the right of farmers to farm their properties, laws to protect that right and finding ways to help the next generation continue to farm. I believe the education of other Council members and people in County government on these unique issues is a key responsibility of the District 5 representative.
Supply of Land: As land grows scarce in the eastern parts of the County, organizations looking for very large parcels and less expensive land head to the West. A major consequence of restrictions on home building is a devaluing of large parcels making them attractive to schools, churches, industrial businesses and other groups. This leads property owners looking for an exit strategy to seek these types of buyers, a situation with is compounded by our loose Conditional Use regulations.
Q. How does the opioid crisis affect District 5?
A. I support all efforts to educate citizens about the dangers of unused prescription drugs, including the existing initiatives of County Executive Kittleman, as that addiction leads to heroin abuse. We need to focus attention and enforcement in the Rt. 70/40 corridor, a prominent thoroughfare in District 5, on which much of the transport, distribution and use of heroin is centered. The heroin crisis, however, affects more than just opiate users and dealers; there is a significant auxiliary effect of increases in other crimes, such as robberies, muggings, car-jackings, etc. by repeat offenders fueled by their heroin addiction.
Q. Where do you stand on illegal immigration in the county?
A. It’s not complicated at all. Our county government has an obligation – indeed, elected officials have a sworn obligation – to defend our state and federal constitutions, county charter and standing laws. The cost of illegal immigration – increased education costs, crime, inundation of our hospital and other health centers and taxing of our first responders – is all borne by the legal citizens and taxpayers of Howard County. We must continue our valuable working relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which plays a critical role in our law enforcement successes.
Q. What public-safety concerns do you have that might fly below the radar for most people?
A. Because Howard is an affluent county, few people appreciate the amount of domestic violence, human/child trafficking and other crimes our first responders encounter. Both police and fire & rescue are continually stretched by our growing population. The over 100 languages spoken in the County present a crucial need for training so first responders can effectively communicate with all citizens. I’m also concerned that our rapidly growing senior population continue to be the targets of everything from fraud to violent crime.
Q. What are our strengths and advantages?
A. I see our strengths in two key areas:
People: Our personnel are dedicated, smart and focused. We’ll continue to make consistent training a priority and ensure that all personnel are required to meet a consistent high standard of expertise and capability for their specific role
Innovation: All of our public safety teams use extensive data and systems to track service and outcomes. These tools lead to initiatives such as the successful Repeat Offender Unit. Police use data to implement innovative early intervention and tracking systems for domestic violence. Both police and fire & rescue uses data to ensure exceptional response times in the face of population growth and density changes, especially in the Rt. 1 Corridor, Downtown Columbia and the West.
Public Campaign Financing
Q. Do you think that Howard County taxpayers should foot the bill for political campaigns?
A. Absolutely not! I was disappointed that the Howard County Council passed a bill in June 2017 to model Montgomery County’s system of taxpayer-funded elections, and I’m proud of our current District 5 Councilman, Greg Fox, who was the lone vote against the bill. Although I am open to discussing ways to reduce the influence of large donors on our local elections, a taxpayer should never have to contribute his or her hard-earned money to a politician who will vote against their values.