Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan served three terms as County Executive. He got his start in politics at an early age, going door-to-door with his mother during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign and was the only one of 13 children to follow in his mother’s Democratic-activist footsteps.
Doug grew up in the Twinbrook section of Rockville, Maryland, a working-class neighborhood, home to federal employees, teachers, police officers and firefighters. Upon graduating from Columbia University in three years, Doug worked for Montgomery County’s criminal justice commission, and then spent 13 years in the private sector working in the telecommunications industry.
In 1982, Duncan was elected to the Rockville City Council, where he served for three terms, and was then elected Mayor for three terms. Elected County Executive in 1994, Duncan has provided hands-on leadership to improve educational excellence, strengthen environmental protections, fight poverty and urban blight, and position Montgomery as an international biotechnology leader. The Washington Post -- which called Duncan the “Mayor of Montgomery” -- described his governing style as “county leadership that knows when to quit mulling and start moving.”
Duncan invested heavily in public education, increasing funding by more than 90 percent to provide all-day kindergarten, decrease class sizes, hire more teachers and increase training. With the largest and most diverse school system in the State (with more than 120 different languages spoken and a majority minority student body), Montgomery students posted the highest SAT scores in Maryland and Newsweek magazine ranked all of Montgomery County’s high schools in the nation’s top three percent.
Doug’s commitment to education included a passion for expanding higher educational opportunities for county residents. Throughout his term, Doug has made historic investments that led to the expansion of Montgomery College’s Rockville, Takoma Park, and Germantown campuses. Doug’s advocacy for Montgomery College helped lead to the planning and development of many new initiatives and institutes including but not limited to the College’s High Technology and Science Center, Humanities Institute, Information Technology Institute and Health and Sciences Center. In addition, Doug played a vital role in creating the first-of-its-kind Universities at Shady Grove Center and his leadership was been extremely important for the growth of the Johns Hopkins University Shady Grove Campus.
Providing extraordinary environmental leadership, Duncan saw to it that Montgomery preserved more farmland and open space than any other county in the nation. He led a buying group that orchestrated the single largest purchase of wind energy by a local government in the country, and his Stream Protection Strategy was hailed as a model by the Environmental Protection Agency. Duncan also sought to improve air quality and relieve traffic congestion by increasing mass transit and adding more Compressed Natural Gas and Hybrid buses to the County’s public transportation system.
Duncan positioned Montgomery as the economic engine of the state of Maryland. More than 85,000 jobs were created during the Duncan administration and Montgomery County boasted the lowest unemployment rate in the State during that time. Because of its vibrant technology economy, Time magazine dubbed Montgomery County’s I-270 corridor “DNA Alley.”
Under Duncan’s anti-poverty program, Montgomery became the first County in the nation to implement a local Earned Income Tax Credit, targeting tax relief to working poor families. He expanded access to health care, provided a discount prescription drug card to all County residents, increased transit subsidies, provided job training, more than doubled annual spending on affordable housing and signed into law a living wage bill to ensure that working men and women earned a decent salary. Duncan fought blight and made revitalization of declining urban centers a top priority, starting with downtown Silver Spring. Close to $2 billion in public and private sector money was invested in the central business district, home to the world headquarters of Discovery Communications and a model for smart growth and urban redevelopment.
Duncan led Montgomery through its transformation from a suburban bedroom community into a thriving urban center recognized for visionary land planning, its global technology industry and vast open space and parks.