Political Musical Chairs Coming to Montgomery County



The County Council Race

On the council front, Elrich, Berliner and Leventhal, along with at-large member Nancy Floreen, cannot run for re-election next year because of term limits. At least two state delegates are interested in running for council seats—Charles Barkley (D-District 39) and Al Carr (D-District 18).

Barkley plans to formally announce his plans in June, but has told Bethesda Beat he will run for the council. Barkley has chaired the alcohol subcommittee in the House of Delegates since 2011 and had a campaign war chest of just over $205,000 as of January.

Carr said he’s weighing his options and may run for the District 1 seat being vacated by Berliner. He said that knowledge in land use and transportation issues he gained while serving as a Town of Kensington Council member from 2002 to 2007 would prove useful if he was elected to the County Council.

The shift from a state to local elected position may seem backward in terms of career options, but the full-time council post pays about $135,000 annually compared to the $43,500 paid to a delegate in the part-time General Assembly. Part of the appeal may also lie in the satisfaction that local officials can derive from seeing the impact of their decisions—such as funding a new road or approving a land use master plan—while the state legislators tend to work on more broad-based policies.

Two Board of Education members—Jill Ortman-Fouse and Rebecca Smondrowski—are also considering runs for the council, sources told Bethesda Beat, although neither have formally announced whether they will run.

Sources have also told Bethesda Beat that current District 5 council member Tom Hucker is considering running at-large in 2018 to help raise his profile countywide—potentially leaving his Silver Spring-based seat open. Hucker disputed that Wednesday, saying he’s happy in his district seat.

In Bethesda-based District 1—where Berliner must give up his seat—candidates include former tax attorney Reggie Oldak, former Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman and local activist Bill Cook. Andrew Friedson, a senior adviser for state Comptroller Peter Franchot, is also considering a run for the District 1 council seat.

In District 2, which includes Germantown, Gaithersburg and Clarksburg, Republicans Edward Amatetti and Tom Ferleman have filed documents with the state to run for the council seat as well.

District 3 council member Sidney Katz, who represents Gaithersburg and Rockville, is facing an opponent from his own party—Ben Shnider, a 28-year-old progressive challenger who works at the Jewish affairs group J Street. Shnider announced plans in April to challenge the incumbent Democrat.

As for the at-large council race, there could be dozens of candidates vying to fill the positions being vacated by Floreen, Leventhal and Elrich. Early candidates include Rockville resident Richard Gottfried, Chevy Chase resident Chris Wilhelm and Ukiah Busch of Silver Spring, who have filed documents with the state about their intentions to use public financing to run at-large in 2018. Former attorney Bill Conway of Potomac announced his plans to run for an at-large seat on the council in April and also plans to use public financing. Kensington’s Tim Willard is seeking to run at-large for council on the Green Party ticket. Marilyn Balcombe, the president of the Germantown Gaithersburg Chamber of Commerce said in February she plans to run for an at-large seat. Another potential candidate is Evan Glass, who narrowly lost to Hucker in 2014, and is considering a run for council in 2018. Glass is the executive director of Silver Spring-based Gandhi Brigade Youth Media, which offers after-school and summer programs that provide students with training in broadcast and digital media.


Check out the original post on Bethesda Beat here.

Ben Shnider