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When he was easily re-elected four years ago, Isiah Leggett all but said that it was his last campaign and that he would retire after two terms. But sometime last year, Leggett changed his mind, feeling he had "unfinished business."
"I assumed we'd have a transportation bill in place that would provide revenues for the county. We didn't get that until very, very late in the process. Secondly we still continue to have a challenge with the achievement gap in Montgomery County. And I want to make certain that as we emerge from this recession that we have budgets [that don't bring back] challenges that we put aside in the past and are no longer with us," Leggett says.
That last part of that statement is a clear shot at Leggett's predecessor Doug Duncan, who's seeking his old office again in this year's Democratic primary. Leggett insists Duncan's presence in the race was not a determining factor in whether or not to run again, but one of Leggett's chief campaign themes is that he has been a better fiscal steward of county spending than Duncan. Leggett also feels it's time the county's economy begins to shift.
"The county needs to emerge from the shadow of the federal government," Leggett says. "The federal government is not growing, and jobs from that sector probably will not be around for years to come. So what I want to do is to shift our focus to other areas that we have not had before like cybersecurity."
Something else Leggett wants to shift if re-elected is the county's often isolated status in Maryland.
"Often times people look at us as though we are an isolated island. This is why I'm an integral part of MACO: the Maryland Association of Counties," Leggett says. "I'm the incoming president of that. We've never had that from a county executive in the past. We need to enhance our national status. I'm currently president of County Executives of America."
If he defeats Duncan and serves out a third term, Leggett would tie his predecessor as the longest serving executive in county history.
Some other excerpts from the interview with Isiah Leggett:
For the next two weeks, Maryland reporter Matt Bush will profile some of the candidates that are running for various offices statewide and in Montgomery County in the primary election June 24.