Greater Greater Washington: Our endorsements for Montgomery County Council districts: Ben Shnider

GREATER GREATER WASHINGTON: Our endorsements for Montgomery County Council districts: Reggie Oldak, Ben Shnider, Nancy Navarro, Tom Hucker

May 11, 2018

Besides the incredibly crowded race for Montgomery County’s four at-large seats, there are races for the Democratic nomination in all five council districts. It’s here in the council district races where parochial concerns about specific transportation and development projects have a tendency to take over, and strong contrasts have emerged.

Greater Greater Washington’s endorsed candidates — Reggie Oldak in District 1, Ben Shnider in District 3, Nancy Navarro in District 4, and Tom Hucker in District 5 — have shown substantial courage to stand up for an inclusive and transit-oriented future and deserve your support in Maryland’s June 26 primary.

We make no endorsement in District 2's Democratic primary, where neither incumbent Craig Rice nor his challenger, Tiquia Bennett, have shown much enthusiasm for a shift away from car-dependent communities. The three Republicans running for the seat did not respond to our questionnaire, so we also make no endorsement there.

District 3: Ben Shnider

District 3 includes the historic railroad towns of Rockville and Gaithersburg, notable New Urbanist communities like the Kentlands and King Farm, and sprawling new office parks. Despite being centered a half dozen miles outside the Beltway, District 3 boasts high transit ridership with five of Ride-On’s 10 busiest routes, seven Metro and MARC stations, and some 31 Capital Bikeshare stations. The Corridor Cities Transitway and 355 BRT could further knit these places together, if they’re ever built.

The incumbent, Sidney Katz, has served one term on the council. Katz supports transit and has a history of fighting for MARC service as mayor of Gaithersburg. However, Katz also favors road projects, including building M-83 and the potential of tolled reversible lanes on I-270.

This year, District 3 provides a rare opportunity to elect an urbanist champion in Ben Shnider, who served on the board of Action Committee for Transit and even posed with a Capital Bikeshare station in a campaign photo (above).

Shnider is unequivocal in saying, “I oppose widening I-495 and I-270, and oppose constructing M-83 and Montrose Parkway East. I strongly support a predominantly fixed-guideway BRT network — including the long-planned Corridor Cities Transitway — and all-day, bi-directional MARC service on the Brunswick Line.”

Shnider shows a great deal of sophistication on our issues. For example he argues that MCDOT and SHA engineers should have “a presumption in favor of pedestrian and bike safety, without blindly using the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as an excuse for inaction or delay.” His response to Progressive Neighbors was full of creative ideas that flip typical narratives and harness development as a tool to decrease rather than increase inequality.

On housing affordability, he “will push to increase the overall amount of transit-oriented development and related transit, pedestrian and biking facilities” and “would move to increase the minimum MPDU mandate to 15% countywide and go even higher when County land is redeveloped.”

In our head-to-head questionnaire comparison tool, readers voted for Katz’s questionnaire responses over Shnider’s only 4.5% of the time, versus giving Shnider the win 63% of the time (and “don’t know” for the remainder).

We hope Montgomery County Democrats nominate Ben Shnider in District 3.

Check out the full post here.

Ben Shnider