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Montgomery County, MD becomes becomes first county to pass a Back from the Brink resolution

Before the Tuesday session, activists promoting the County resolution of BftB joined in a breakfast celebration with Tom Hucker and his staff. Front, left to right: Kathy Heller, Candy Dennis, Mary Liepold, Anne Jelen, Susan Kerin, and Veronica Fellergrath-Lowell. Rear, left to right: Bob Cooke, Art Milholland, MD Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Hucker, Steve Lapham, Dennis Warner, and Erinn Camp Monsour.

On Dec 10, 2019, Montgomery County Council in Maryland passed a Back from the Brink resolution, becoming the first county council in the United States to do so. The resolution calls on Maryland’s congressional delegation to take commonsense steps to prevent nuclear war. This milestone was achieved thanks to the hard work of Maryland Peace Action, local activists with Pax Christi Metro-DC and Sandy Spring Friends Meeting, and Chesapeake PSR board member Art Milholland, MD. The vote was 8 for, 0 against, and 1 abstention.

Back from the Brink is a national grassroots initiative seeking fundamental changes to U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The initiative features a resolution, the “Call to Prevent Nuclear War,” which lays out five steps that the U.S. should take to prevent nuclear war.

Montgomery County is the most populous of all Maryland counties, with over a million inhabitants. Since 2018, four state legislative bodies (in California, Oregon, Maine and New Jersey) have passed resolutions that include the five-point Back from the Brink policy platform. On December 16, Springfield, Massachusetts became the latest of 41 towns and cities that have passed such a resolution.

According to Dr. Milholland, “Councilmember Tom Hucker initially proposed the resolution because of a personal contact by Peace Action Montgomery’s Jean Athey. Backers then needed to line up four more councilmembers for it to be introduced for discussion and voting.

Educating and persuading these council members to join Hucker required months of phone calls, emails, and personal meetings with staff and councilmembers in their offices and at community events held or attended by them. After several weeks of effort, the last at-large councilmember finally became a supporter after meeting with Pax Christi member Veronica Fellergrath-Lowell. Success!”

Gwen DuBois, MD, PSR board member and president of Chesapeake PSR, said, “The Montgomery County resolution broke important ground in the growing national Back from the Brink campaign. Additionally, this victory has encouraged other communities in Maryland in different stages of working on their own BFTB resolutions: in Howard County, Prince George’s County and the city of Frederick. We hope some day in the near future to work on a state resolution as more Marylanders will be living in communities that will have passed BFTB resolutions.” Jean Athey, Executive Director, Maryland Peace Action, said, “I am excited that a broad coalition of groups advocated for our resolution with the County Council, showing the strong support in the County for reducing the terrible threat of nuclear war that the world faces. The resolution calls for sensible and do-able steps that the U.S. can take to make us all safer.”

The text of the Montgomery County resolution can be found here.

On Dec. 16, Councilmembers from Baltimore, Montgomery County and the District of Columbia placed a joint op-ed in the Baltimore Sun.

For more information on Back from the Brink, including materials on how to pursue a resolution in your own locality, visit the Back from the Brink website, www.preventnuclearwar.org, or email Alex Jassett, Nuclear Threats Associate at PSR-Los Angeles, at info@preventnuclearwar.org.