Community Engagement, Participation. Engage your local Council or other Representative. August 2020


Councilmember Will Jawando

Mid-Year Update

For the last five months, Montgomery County and our nation have faced an unprecedented crisis with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we encountered these challenges in March, I am proud that our community's reaction was to be "all in this together". Yet, we could not truly understand what was to come: the health emergency and deaths of residents here and across the country; the economic fall out; the social justice awakening after the murder of George Floyd by law enforcement in Minneapolis; and the uncertainty we face looking towards next year. 


We have all sacrificed or lost something during this pandemic. Perhaps you or someone in your family has lost a job. Your children’s school has shifted to online learning, childcare is limited or closed, and school sports are eliminated. All while perhaps experiencing the painful loss of a loved one, a neighbor or a friend to COVID-19, as I have. And while this moment is no doubt trying, I know if we remember “We are all in this together”, we can get Montgomery County and our country moving forward. 


As your At-Large Montgomery County Councilmember, I am deeply grateful and humbled to have the privilege to represent each of you and work with my colleagues on policies to directly help county residents address the most pressing issues of our time. This includes over $36 million in support for our local small businesses. Additionally, the County Council has appropriated $14 million in grants to assist businesses with reopening efforts. To learn more about these programs or to apply you can click here. Below you will find updates on some of our other work on behalf of our residents.

Reimagining Policing

Use of Force Reforms

Black residents make up 19 percent of our county’s population but account for 55 percent of those involved in use of force incidents. Unfortunately, residents here have lost their lives as a result of police use of force, and many others have been harmed emotionally and physically. It is abundantly clear that we must make significant changes to policing and our overall approach to public safety. Every member of the public should know they are a valued and protected member of the community. 


Together with Councilmembers Rice, Albornoz and Navarro, I introduced a bill to dramatically reform the “use of force” policies for the Montgomery County Police Department. Following numerous constructive discussions in committee and before the full Council, I am pleased to report that this bill passed on July 29th. 


Current police policy encourages stops and creates incentives for arrests. Data shows these stops and arrests disproportionately impact people of color. Our numbers in Montgomery County reflect national trends, and we need to do our part to turn those trends around. Our legislation is modeled on the national PEACE Act proposal, and in line with the “8 Can’t Wait” initiative. 


This puts Montgomery County on a path to a new and better future for policing in our communities by addressing some of the most urgent issues relating to deadly police interactions. Together with the new Police Advisory Commission, Montgomery County is becoming a model for reimagining policing. 


On September 10th, I will be hosting a town hall on policing in Montgomery County, you can sign up here.

Library Reopening Plan and Virtual Storytime

Virtual Storytime

Montgomery County Public Libraries recently began Phase 1 of their reopening plan. They are receiving returned books at their book drops and have started a "Holds to Go" program to allow you to schedule an appointment to pick up holds placed either online or over the phone. You can find more information on MCPL’s website.   


As of August 2, MCPL began using the following hours at all of their branches, except Noyes Library and Maggie Nightingale (where the hours won't change from current service). The new service hours are:

  • Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Monday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In March, when the libraries first closed, I launched our “Virtual Storytime” every weekday, with the goal of reading children’s books out loud to our online audiences as long as the libraries remained closed. We were fortunate to have amazing guests join us such as Montgomery County’s own Katie Ledecky and Dominique Dawes, Congressman Jaime Raskin, Academy Award nominated actress, Cynthia Erivo, and a town hall with renowned race scholar Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. As we begin the process of reopening, I have scaled back my Storytime sessions to twice a week: Wednesday and Friday. I hope that you will continue to bring your little ones to enjoy these sessions -- and to use our friendly public library services as they re-open.

Fighting Food Insecurity

Food Insecurity

COVID-19 and the cascade of job losses brought unforeseen levels of hunger and food insecurity to our county’s families. Before COVID-19, approximately 63,000 Montgomery County residents did not have secure access to food. According to the Food Security Task Force Response Strategy Report assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 30,000 residents will need food assistance. The Food Council and others have identified a growing gap in the financial resources required to address this crisis, estimated to be between $20-$50 million. 


In June, I introduced a special appropriation, in partnership with Councilmember Albornoz and our other Council colleagues, creating the Montgomery County Food Security Fund. In support of the Food Security Task Force Response Strategy, we developed a comprehensive plan creating a partnership between the public and private sectors. This partnership will help leverage the purchase and distribution of shelf stable food from food banks and support our local restaurants who are making prepared meals and our farmers who are providing fresh fruits and vegetables to residents in need.


The special appropriation of $10 million County investment will be matched by a $5 million private sector investment, coordinated by The Greater Washington Community Foundation. You can contribute to the Montgomery County Food Security Fund here. Donations made to The Greater Washington Community Foundation are tax deductible. 


Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Racism is a Public Health Emergency

On June 9th, I introduced a resolution declaring Racism a Public Health Emergency, which passed with the full support of the Council. Racism has led to a lack of investment in communities of color and deepening health disparities for everyone. Scientists have disproven the wrongheaded notion that there is a biological basis to distinguish racial groups; instead they see race as a social, cultural, and/or political construct wherein racial segregation has real consequences on health and health disparities. In fact, racism is now considered a social determinant of health.


COVID-19 has amplified the disparities in health outcomes, as African Americans across the country are dying at the highest rate of any group in the U.S. In Montgomery County, African Americans account for 1 in 4 of all COVID-19 deaths with the highest rate of any group at 88.3 per 100,000 residents. Racism affects African American health outcomes in disproportionate ways, whether it’s in a hospital where Black women die in childbirth at 3 times the rate of white women, regardless of their income or level of education; or living in poorly maintained communities as a result of government sanctioned redlining; or environmental racism, which leads to higher rates of asthma and more pedestrian fatalities in our neighborhoods due to lack of investment in infrastructure. These effects are serious and long lasting. 


Being a person of color shouldn’t mean a shorter, sicker, or more dangerous life. Sadly, this is the case for many African Americans, Latinx, Asian and communities of color no matter what their level of income or education. The time for change is now, which is why I introduced this resolution that calls on us to have a plan of action to address disparities in each of these areas. As a full Council, we have established a track record of promoting racial equity, social justice and inclusion throughout County government. Click here to sign a petition calling for the Governor to declare racism as a public health emergency in Maryland.

African American Health Program


On August 4th, I introduced, along with Councilmember Rice and each of my colleagues, a special appropriation supporting AAHP’s Targeted COVID-19 Response Program.


According to the Washington Post, nearly 1 in 3 Black Americans know someone directly who has died of COVID-19. Councilmember Rice and I worked with the Executive Committee of AAHP to create a targeted response to fighting COVID-19 in the African American Community. The comprehensive approach will include a permanent testing site in East County along with pop-up testing in a variety of easily accessible locations; contact tracing; the distribution of COVID-19 Kits to the community and the development of a Black physician partnership to provide residents who test positive for COVID-19 with financial assistance for co-pays, deductibles and the cost of medication.


Additionally, I was proud to support Councilemembers Navarro and Albornoz, along with all my colleagues in passing a similar appropriation for the Latinx community. These investments reflect work we are doing supporting my Racism as a Public Health Emergency Resolution mentioned above. We must address the core issues that create the disparities for our communities of color. 


Expanding Mental Health Services

EveryMind Mental Health Services

Building on an initiative I introduced last year with Councilmember Andrew Friedson, on July 21st the Council voted to provide emergency funding to expand the EveryMind Crisis Hotline. During COVID-19, there has been a 25% increase in calls to the Hotline. 


The COVID-19 public health crisis and restrictions intended to slow the spread of disease have placed stress on individuals and families. Having families in close quarters has exacerbated family tensions and feelings of alienation and isolation.  Consequently, mental health supports are in great demand by County residents struggling with COVID-19 related challenges.


EveryMind’s Montgomery County hotline, which provides supportive listening, information and resource referrals, and crisis intervention (including suicide assessments) through telephone, text, and chat services, has supported County residents expressing increased stress and anxiety due to the virus as well as significant loneliness and isolation as a result of the need to quarantine and social distance. If you or someone you know are in need of help please encourage them to call or text 301-738-2255, EveryMind’s Montgomery County Hotline for individuals in crisis.  


Rental Assistance

In the midst of the worst financial and health crisis in any of our lives, many of our fellow residents are struggling to make ends meet. We face a looming homelessness crisis when evictions begin again at the end of August. In an effort to stem this crisis, I have introduced a resolution calling on Governor Hogan to extend the moratorium on evictions through the end of January.


Earlier this year, I introduced a bill to cap rental increases at 2.6% during the COVID-19 crisis. The County Council has also introduced a special appropriation of $20 million for Rental Assistance and Eviction and Homelessness Prevention. I am committed to working with my colleagues in state and federal government as well as on the Council to ensure that this health crisis is not worsened by a growing housing crisis.

School This Fall

MCPS Reopening

As we consider our plans for reopening schools, and society as a whole, it is imperative that we keep the changing state of our county in mind. Montgomery County Public Schools announced that they will not be returning for in person classes for the fall semester. The information we are getting from our County Health officials indicates that it will not be safe to reopen schools before November. MCPS will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate whether it is safe to return to schools in the 2nd semester. 


Understandably, this is an evolving situation and we need to make every effort to keep our children safe throughout this crisis, so that they can all get back to school when it is safe to do so.


As a parent of four small children, including three school aged students in both public and private schools, and one child who receives special education services, I completely understand the hardship this creates for families. I am hopeful we can return to school buildings as soon as possible and I appreciate the difficulty distance learning has posed for educators, parents and students.  


As always, please be in touch if I can be of assistance by emailing me at




Will Jawando

Councilmember, At-Large


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