Bethesda Beat: Politics Roundup: SEIU Local 500 Endorses Elrich For County Executive; Albornoz, Jain, Jawando, Shnider For Council


SEIU Local 500 endorses Elrich in county executive race

One of Montgomery County’s major public employee unions has chosen to endorse Marc Elrich in the six-way Democratic primary for county executive.

SEIU Local 500, which claims more members in the county than any other local union, also has decided to back three candidates in the crowded June 26 primary for four at-large County Council seats: Gabriel Albornoz of Kensington, director of the county’s Department of Recreation; Ashwani Jain of Potomac, a political operative who held several posts in the administration of President Barack Obama; and Will Jawando of Silver Spring, an attorney who is also a former Obama administration official.

In addition, Local 500 is endorsing Ben Shnider of Rockville, a political operative and civic activist, for the District 3 council seat in Shnider’s challenge to incumbent Sidney Katz of Gaithersburg.

In the eight-way Democratic primary for the open seat in the council’s District 1—which includes Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac—the union is expected to announce its endorsement as early as next week, sources said.

SEIU Local 500, whose 13,500 members residing in the county include the support staff of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), is the first of the large local public employee unions to announce endorsements for county office in this year’s campaign.

The Montgomery County Education Association, which represents the MCPS teaching staff, and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, which includes the large majority of employees in county government, are expected to announce their endorsements for county executive and council in the coming weeks.

For Elrich, a Takoma Park resident who has served three terms as an at-large council member, the backing of Local 500 is the latest in a series of union endorsements. Other recent endorsements have come from the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, the Baltimore/Washington District Council of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), and 32BJ SEIU, which represents property service workers in the Washington area.

In the at-large council race, the SEIU Local 500 endorsement is the second major organizational endorsement in recent weeks for Jawando—who is running his third race for elected office in four years, after falling short in primary bids for the House of Delegates in 2014 and U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. Jawando also garnered the endorsement of the Maryland Sierra Club late last month.

Local 500’s backing is the first major organizational endorsement for the 28-year old Jain, who, if elected, would be the first Asian-American ever to serve on the Montgomery County Council.

Meanwhile, for Shnider, also 28, the Local 500 endorsement represents another boost in his challenge to 67-year old Katz, a former long-time mayor of Gaithersburg. Shnider previously picked up endorsements from the Baltimore/Washington District Council of LiUNA and 32BJ SEIU, along with the Sierra Club.

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Ben Shnider