With three of the four at large County Council members leaving their seats in 2018, nine candidates so far have filed to fill their spots. In the last week, three new candidates filed to run for the four County Council at large seats.
Bill Conway (Democrat)
Conway, a former lawyer for the U.S. Senate, filed to run for County Council saying he was motivated by Donald J. Trump election as president as why he decided to run for public office. “Honestly what pushed me over was Donald Trump,” Conway said. “In particular it was his policy on undocumented people and my realization that would come home to roost in the County.”
Conway, who lives in Potomac, said he supports the current County policy to honor some detainers for “serious criminals” from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and said the County should do whatever it can to protect the undocumented immigrant community within the County even if it means losing federal funding.
“That's where the rubber meets the road...we can’t back down,” Conway said.
Conway bills himself as bit of a policy wonk citing his experience as a lawyer for the Senate Energy committee where he advised Senators on energy policy. Conway said his experience working as an attorney specializing in energy has made him focus on environmental issues saying he would favor shutting down the County’s trash incinerator in Dickerson in favor of finding a way to reduce the County’s waste and store the rest in a land fill.
On the economy Conway said he believe the County needs to improve its bad reputation when it comes to business, but did not say whether that meant lowering taxers or reducing regulations. “We should be treating businesses like customers we should do what ever we can do to make it business easy,” he said.
On one of the hottest topics in the County Conway said he supports increasing the County’s minimum wage of $11.50 per hour, but cautioned the County should be “really careful how we do it.”
Incumbent County Council member Hans Riemer is the sole at at-large Council member who can seek reelection, thanks to a term limit amendment to the County Charter limiting council members to three consecutive terms.
Riemer said he is seeking a third term to continue to the issues he supports on the Council including universal pre-kindergarten education; a bus rapid transit system on U.S. Route 29, state Route 355 and Viers Mill Road; and increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Riemer, a resident of Takoma Park, has been an advocate for pushing for more density in the County’s master plans around transit. Riemer said he believes more density around transit centers will encourage residents to take mass transit instead of drive and provide for more affordable housing options with stricter regulations on developers requiring more affordable housing.
Riemer said he was proud of a vote he made to increase property taxes in order to increase funding for Montgomery County Public School in order to hire more teachers and reduce class sizes in school.
“I am very proud of the work we’ve done supporting MCPS and reducing class sizes,” Riemer said.
Darwin Romero (Democrat)
Romero, an entrepreneur from Silver Spring, filed last week and said he is travelling around the County to listen to residents.
Romero said he is roaming the County to take informal solicitations from voters as he crafts his proposals. Romero said he took notice from 2016 term limit referendum saying the vote was not just a vote for term limits, but a vote against the direction the County was headed.
“They don’t like the direction of the county is going,” Romero said.
Romero said residents have complained to him about taxes, something that he believes has put a large burden on County residents especially seniors.
“If you increase gas or fuel taxes it's very difficult to retain or have our seniors stay here in the county,” Romero said.
Romero, who works as an operation manager at a small construction firm and as a consultant to small business, said he believes the County needs to work on its marketing to businesses in order to attract more jobs to the County.
“Marketing is where we need to start,” Romero said.
The Democratic Primary for the County Council and gubernatorial elections is June 26, 2018.