While the process of arranging candidates’ names on a ballot is normally straightforward, the unprecedented number of candidates running for the four County Council at-large seats this year could lead to controversy as state election officials attempt to cram a whopping 35 primary candidates onto this year’s primary ballot in a way that is fair to all those running.
“I think it’s very fair to say that this particular office [County Council at-large] will be a challenge for us to determine the proper arrangement of the ballot,” said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy administrator for the Maryland State Board of Elections, which is currently in the process of crafting the myriad ballots for the primary.
While there is a committee that will have some input into the process, MSBOE Project Manager Natasha Walker will bear most of the responsibility for the final look of ballots for the June 26 primary, which the Board must certify by May 2. Voters won’t have to wait that long, however, as Duncan predicted that the Board would post preliminary versions for each of the state’s various elections by the end of March.
Although Duncan said that in the past she has seen ballots for local party central committee elections boast more than 20 candidates, this year’s Democratic at-large primary field is the largest she can remember seeing for any particular race.
Local attorney Shelly Skolnick’s decision to run for an at-large seat on the County Council as a Republican puts the veteran of six campaigns – including runs for Congress, County Council and County Executive – among the thin ranks of those running for countywide office under the GOP banner. Despite Montgomery County’s solid blue reputation, Skolnick hopes he can win over Democratic voters with his pragmatic ideas.
“I’m not an ideologue and I’m not an extremist,” Skolnick said. “Some of my ideas go against the Republican orthodoxy.”
Sports radio personality and producer Steve Solomon is one of the latest to join the field of 30 at-large Montgomery County Council candidates.
Solomon, a County native who grew up in Wheaton, Silver Spring and Bethesda, said he launched his campaign on what he calls an everyman platform which includes the culling of the County’s deer population, speeding up the construction of County infrastructure projects and supporting County Fire and Rescue.
Chris Wilhelm (at-large)
Northwood High School teacher and Democrat Chris Wilhelm is one of the latest to file to run for County Council at-large.
Wilhelm who teaches at English as a Second Language at Northwood High School in Silver Spring and has previously worked for Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8) and Del. David Moon (D-20).
Wilhelm said he is proposing on making Montgomery College tuition-free for County residents.
“I think this would make a huge difference for lower and middle income families in Montgomery County,” Wilhelm said.
BETHESDA – Green Party candidate Tim Willard of Kensington has filed with the County Board of Elections to run for the County Council at Large in 2018.
“I’m running on a platform of sustainability,” Willard said. “We have start planning an end to growth, it’s getting expensive, and we have to figure out how we go into the future,” he added.