County Council members host town hall, discuss community issues


Emily London

Clarksburg Junior Charlotte Sanford raises her hand to ask the panel a question. She, like many other students at the town hall, asked about how the boundary study would affect her school.

By Emily London

Montgomery County Councilmembers hosted the first of two Youth Town Hall meetings at Clarksburg High School Oct. 30. The town hall gave council members an opportunity to respond to student questions and concerns on the boundary study, crumbling facilities, gun safety and more.

County Council president Nancy Navarro, Board of Education president Shebra Evans and county councilmembers Craig Rice, Sydney Katz and Gabe Albornoz attended the event. All of these officials will also attend the second town hall Nov. 13 at Wheaton High School. 

This is the first year the County Council hosted two separate town halls in different parts of the county. For the past eight years, they only held one town hall in Rockville. This year, the Council decided to host one at Clarksburg and another at Wheaton to make the town halls more convenient for students across the county, Navarro said.

“We wanted to be geographically accessible,” she said. “We are really excited about expanding.”

At the town hall, Student Member of the Board Nate Tinbite asked the panel members about their educational priorities. Most panelists answered by talking about how the opportunity gap affects students across the county and possible solutions.

The students in the audience asked about both county-wide topics like improving cafeteria food and national issues like gun safety. 

Clarksburg junior Charlotte Sanford wasn’t satisfied with many of the councilmembers’ responses, she said.

“The answers seemed pretty vague,” Sanford said. “But even with vague answers, you can still get out what you want to know.”

These town hall meetings have affected real change in Montgomery County, Councilmember Craig Rice said. In past years, the meetings have inspired the County Council to make the Ride On bus free for students, provide more mental health services, hire more school nurses and more, he said.

“All of these happened as a result of student’s advocacy,” Rice said. “Don’t think that you don’t have the power to make change.”

The County Council will host the second Youth Town hall Nov. 13 at Wheaton High School at 7 pm.