POTOMAC – Saturday’s candidate forum was one of the first opportunities for the four men filed to run for County Executive to take the stage together and speak to the public directly.
On Saturday, the Montgomery County Muslim Council hosted a forum at the Potomac Community Center for the four people who filed to run for County Executive candidates and current County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) Marc Elrich (D- at large), George Leventhal (D- at large), and attorney and former member of the Maryland House of Delegates Robin Ficker.
The candidates answered questions about diversity, profiling, schools and taxes.
Taxes was a main issue for Ficker, who talked about leading the campaign to amend the County Charter to require unanimous approval from the County Council to raise property taxes above the rate of inflation.
Ficker, unlike the other candidates, took to center stage and rejected the microphone in favor of his own voice and the acoustics of the room.
“When you go home tonight, think to yourself what do you remember about this County Executive forum,” Ficker said at the Muslim Council-hosted forum. “Here is what you should remember: Robin protects Muslim pocketbooks,” Ficker said after pulled his wallet out of his pocket and held in the air.
Ficker, the lone Republican running for County Executive, used the Council’s decision to raise property taxes 8.7 in 2016, as a constant rallying cry for his more fiscally conservative platform.
Meanwhile, Berliner, Elrich and Leventhal, all of whom voted for the County property tax increase, defended their decision to do so, saying the County needed to keep up with growing needs at Montgomery County Public Schools.
“There is no civilization in the world that is known for its tax rate…and we shouldn’t handicap ourselves and say we’re not going to raise taxes if we have to,” Elrich said.
Elrich added that he would like to see developers pay more in taxes rather than sharing that burden.