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County Executive candidates square off in last primary forum

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Ficker Krasnow Leventhal Forum NCAIA 617Ficker, Krasnow, and Leventhal speak during a forum. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREVPOTOMAC — Three of the seven candidates vying to succeed the term-limited County Executive Ike Leggett explained their policies and positions in front of an audience of Indian-American voters on Sunday.

Hosted by the National Council of Asian Indian Associations at the Potomac Community Center, the candidates, show minimal disagreement, responded to questions on issues, including economic development, transportation, and hate crimes and violence, from Dr. Har Swarup Singh, the former ambassador of India to the Maldives.

Unlike the previous forums, only three candidates – former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, current at-large County Councilmember George Leventhal, both running for the Democratic nomination, and Republican Robin Ficker – participated.

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County Executive candidates continue pitches to voters

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County Executive Forum Bnai Israel Mens Club 613County Executive candidates speak during forum at B’nai Israel Congregation. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREVROCKVILLE — As the June 26 primary election for County Executive approaches, candidates continued to lay out their platforms in front of voters at the B’nai Israel Congregation last Wednesday.

Hosted by the B’nai Israel Men’s Club, the candidates received questions on immigration, transportation, and economic development from Jonathan Salant, a journalist for The Star-Ledger, a New Jersey-based newspaper.

The forum featured current Council members Marc Elrich, George Leventhal (both at-large), Roger Berliner (District 1), former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, Del. Bill Frick (District 16), businessman David Blair – all vying for the Democratic nomination – and lone Republican Robin Ficker.

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County Executive candidates lay out housing agendas

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County Executive Candidates 1County Executive candidates talk housing issues PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREVKENSINGTON — With just weeks until the June 26 primary election, five candidates vying to succeed the term-limited Isiah Leggett as the next County Executive explained their agendas on housing issues to voters at a forum Thursday evening.

While expressing commitment to the County’s housing needs, the candidates outlined differing approaches to issues such as land use, public housing, and rent regulation.

“This consistently never seems one of the top issues in the County of great concern, but that’s because the people that most need it are not the people most involved in our political process,” said current Montgomery County Planning Department deputy director Rose Krasnow as she opened the event.

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Up-County issues take center stage in Darnestown debate

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DARNESTOWN — With the June 26 primary closing in, candidates for County Executive continued their campaign tour to the up-County, this time making their pitch to voters in Darnestown.

While most of the County Executive forums have featured only the Democratic candidates running for office, the forum hosted by the Darnestown Civic Association included the County’s sole Republican candidate – Robin Ficker – as five of the candidates squared off to woo voters in one of the more rural parts of Montgomery County.

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County Executive candidates square off again

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SILVER SPRING — If any of the 300 spectators who arrived at the Northwood High School gymnasium for Sunday’s County Executive candidate forum hoped one of the candidates in attendance would distinguish themselves from the crowded field, they probably left the three-hour event disappointed. 

Seven candidates are vying to replace Democrat Isiah Leggett as County Executive, who became term-limited in 2016 after voters approved a ballot initiative championed by attorney, activist and perennial candidate Robin Ficker, the sole Republican in this year’s race.

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Ficker claims no one denied him access at public meetings in the past

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Robin FickerRobin Ficker FILE PHOTO  On Dec. 26 during an impromptu County Council meeting, Republican candidate for County Executive and political activist Robin Ficker was not given a spot to speak at the public hearing.

While Council President Hans Riemer (D-at large), did not allow Ficker to speak at the Dec. 26 public hearing, many residents who frequent Council meetings and testify – including Ficker – said they have never had trouble voicing their opposition at the Council building before.

“He's making the Council a political body instead of a public body,” said Ficker, who has told the Sentinel he has never had trouble testifying at the Council before.

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Ficker banned from speaking, claims bias

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MoCo LogoROCKVILLE — Attorney, activist, and perennial candidate Robin Ficker said he was barred from speaking at last week’s County Council public hearing because he is running for County Executive as a Republican even though he admits that he was going to attack the Council instead of testifying about the bill under debate.

“It’s personal. It’s not Robin Ficker-personal; it’s the fact that I’m the only Republican running County-wide,” Ficker said. “They didn’t want to hear what I had to say and they didn’t want me to get any publicity from testifying before the Council.”

Ficker said he signed up to testify before last week’s impromptu County Council meeting, but was not included on the list of witnesses for the hearing, which was meant to quickly to introduce and pass a bill that allowed residents to pay their taxes early in hopes to avoid a projected tax increase from changes in federal taxes.

Council President Hans Riemer (D-at large) said members from his staff picked the people who testified at the meeting based upon the analysis of the bill they gave in their requests to speak at the public hearing.

“We wanted people who had some content, and Mr. Ficker expressed none,” Riemer said. “Those who were here had written us extensive emails, you know, even providing a thorough analysis of the issue, so we felt that they would be constructive and helpful.”

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County executive candidates square off

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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.

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Race for county executive, county council touched by public financing law

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Robin Ficker remembers raising $200,000 for his unsuccessful 2014 run for State Senate.

Now, public contributions to his 2018 campaign for County Executive can be matched up to $750,000 by the County Public Financing Fund, a potential fundraising boon to his campaign. Even more importantly, his campaign could change the political landscape of Montgomery County. Public financing itself could create a more democratic election and encourage voter participation in 2018.

According to Ficker, a former member of the House of Delegates, the County Public Financing Fund “gets the big moneyed interests out of [the race] and gives power to the average person in Montgomery County.” Ficker notes that the fund’s ability to match citizens’ donations “gives the average person some clout” especially since the first $50 donation to a campaign is matched six-to-one and adds $300 to the campaign, something that Ficker considers unique, saying “There is no jurisdiction in the United States that has anything close to this.”

Although Ficker says he has never taken contributions from PACs, unions, or other groups, this law forbids participating candidates from taking such contributions, another attempt by the Montgomery County Council to expand the impact of private citizens and limit the influence of large organizations. Furthermore, officials say that the Public Campaign Financing law requires candidates to accept only donations from Montgomery County residents and only donations between $5 and $150.

However, there is some debate as to the effectiveness of the program’s limits on donations from large organizations. According to George Leventhal, the program is “an experiment in democracy which is intended to reduce the influence of big money in local politics.”

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Candidates test new campaign finance system

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MoCo LogoMore than a year from the 2018 primary election, candidates for County offices are heading in to a new territory of publicly-financed campaigns,

In 2014, the County Council passed a law to publicly finance County elections in hopes to counter the impact of campaign donations from large businesses and political action committees.

Montgomery County is the first county in the state to have publicly-financed elections, meaning the new funding system for candidates is untested.

“It leads some people running for office to look more to grassroots and small donations,” said Ed Amatetti, a Republican candidate for County Council District-2 on the new campaign finance system.

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