Two more County Council candidates enter race

Two more county residents have jumped into races for county council:

Ana Sol Gutierrez (Democrat)

Gutierrez said she will be leaving her District-18 seat in the House of Delegates to run for the District-1 seat Council member Roger Berliner will be vacating in 2018. Gutierrez, who said she has become frustrated with the slow pace of getting bills passed in Annapolis, said she saw an opportunity to run for County Council after Berliner’s seat opened up and the Council passed a bill to publically finance local campaigns.

"It’s very hard to get the kind of issues I care about taken on by the leaders,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez cited the Trust Act, a bill that would have prevented state employees from cooperating with federal immigration officials on enforcing immigration law, as an example of why she wanted to make the switch to County government.

Gutierrez criticized County Executive Ike Leggett for not supporting the Trust Act, saying the County needs to do more to represent its immigrant community.

Gutierrez said education funding is one of her main priorities, saying the County needs to better advocate for itself in Annapolis when it comes to how the state appropriate funds for education.

“Maryland does not look at Montgomery County as a needy county, we need to improve the way the state allocates money to us,” she said.

On transportation, Gutierrez said she favors public transit over building or widening current roads. “I am very, very much in favor of transit solutions to transportation,” she said.

Gutierrez said she opposed Gov. Larry Hogan’s latest proposal to add lanes to Interstate Highway 270, instead saying the state should be funding a plan for reversible lanes rather than additional ones.

Marilyn Balcombe (Democrat)

Gaithersburg Germantown Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Marilyn Balcombe is one of 18 candidates to file for a campaign for County Council At-Large.

Balcombe said one of her main issues is economic development and figuring out ways to make it easier to do business in the County. Balcombe suggested the Council take more input from the business community when it proposes legislation regulating it.

“The Council should look at all parties involved, and if businesses are going to be impacted we should hear from businesses first,” she said.

Balcombe said she opposes the current bill to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020, which also includes exemptions for small businesses to delay the increase to 2022. Balcombe said if elected to the Council, she could support a minimum wage increase bill if it had more offsets for small business and for non-profit organizations, saying they would be hardest hit by the proposed increase to the minimum wage.

On development Balcombe said the County should look to the future and concentrate new development around transit hubs along I-270 and MD-355 and U.S. Route 29.

“It’s too expensive to live here now, stopping all future development is only going to make it much worse,” she said.

On education, Balcombe said the County should look to fund earlychildhood education, which Balcombe said should go beyond current ideas for universal pre-kindergarten education. While Balcombe said the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education is responsible for setting education policy, she said the Council should encourage Montgomery County Public Schools to adopt more skills-based education programs.


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