County ponders ballot problems

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoWhile 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.


County Executive candidates square off again

  • Published in Local

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.


Democrats and politicians weigh in on Manning run for Senate

  • Published in State

Chelsea ManningChelsea Manning           FILE PHOTO  Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking a trove of classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010, has filed for candidacy as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate race in Maryland.

Manning filed paperwork on Jan. 11 at 3:02 p.m. under the committee name, “Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate,” according to the Federal Election Commission. She will face two-term incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin in the June 26 primary election.

A controversial figure who leaked classified information to WikiLeaks, Manning was arrested in 2010 on numerous counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence in a military prison before being granted clemency by then-President Barack Obama as one of the final acts of his presidency before the end of his term in January 2017.


Silver Spring resident files to run for County Clerk of the Court

  • Published in Local

AlanBowserPortraitAlan Bowser Photo provided by Alan BowserCiting a need “to bring more accountability, transparency, diversity, and representation to the courthouse,” Silver Spring resident Alan Bowser has launched his second bid to become the first person of color to be elected Clerk of the Circuit Court in Montgomery County.

“There’s never been a representative of color in the leadership of the courthouse, that could be 242 years in the County’s history,” he said. “Our goal is to open up the courthouse to different voices and bring people with different ideas and complexions to the table.” 

Bowser, 65, a Democrat and attorney in the County since 1995, also ran for the Clerk’s office in 2014. The reason he is challenging incumbent Barbara Meiklejohn, he explained, is because the courthouse does not currently represent the community it serves; if elected he will look to maintain a high standard of professionalism and performance among the court’s staff. 


County Executive candidates debate issues in Sentinel forum

  • Published in Local

County Exec Candidate DebateFrom left to right: Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Executive Editor Brian Karem, George Levanthal and Bill Frick joined the Sentinel-hosted candidate forum to debate issues this week.     PHOTO BY MARK POETKERROCKVILLE — The four Democratic candidates running for Montgomery County Executive squared off in a debate Monday night to make their cases to County residents.

The debate, hosted by the Sentinel Newspapers, was an opportunity for the four men vying for the Democratic nomination for County Executive – Council members Marc Elrich (D-at large), George Leventhal (D-large), Roger Berliner (D-1) and Del. Bill Frick (D-16) – to separate themselves from one another.

New in this year’s election, is a campaign finance system. For those participating in it, the program limits donations to county executive candidates to $150 and matches a portion of donations with public money.

Debate moderator and Sentinel Newspapers Executive Editor Brian Karem asked the candidates if they took campaign contributions from developers.


Sentinel Hosts Live Stream Debate Among Democrat Candidates for County Executive on Oct. 16

  • Published in Local

MoCo LogoROCKVILLE -  The Montgomery County Sentinel will be hosting a live stream debate among the Democrat candidates for County Executive on Monday, Oct. 16, in the Council Hearing Room (third floor) in the County Council Building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. 

Brian J. Karem, the executive editor for The Sentinel Newspapers, will moderate the event which is scheduled from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 


Candidates file for County Council seats

  • Published in Local

Since last week, two additional candidates filed their paper to run for two County Council seats that will be open in 2018.

That brings the total number of people who have filed to run for the open council seats to 22. The addition of a term limit referendum created four new open seats on the County Council for the 2018 election.

Meredith Wellington (District-1)

Meredith WellingtonCOURTESY PHOTO Wellington, a Democrat, and former member of the County Planning Board, said she got her start in politics when her son needed a place to play baseball. She said she and others helped lobby to the County to build what would become the Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase.Wellington is originally from Texas, but has lived in the County since 1978. Wellington served on the Planning Board for eight years from 1999 to 2007, the Montgomery County Park Foundation and has worked as a lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board.

Wellington said the community center is an example of the type of development she wants in the County, where the County encourages developers to make voluntary contributions to the surrounding community by helping to pay for land for parks, school or traffic infrastructure.

“I firmly believe that developers should make more in-kind donations to improve amenities,” Wellington said.

On transit, Wellington said she supports funding for Metro and Ride On Extra, but said the County should look at expanding or widening roads. Wellington said much of District 1 is not close to a Metro stop and she believes the County should widen roads in order to accommodate more cars and buses.

“So we have a network of roads that are suitable for buses,” Wellington said. “If we need to expand roads, widen roads, we should do that and that will also benefit cars.”

On economic development, Wellington said the County should be more aggressive in how it tries to attract businesses to relocate here, saying the County should have representatives around the world that market on behalf of the County.

“We are a premium location for science and we need to spread that word and develop ourselves more as science center,” she said.

On the environment, Wellington said she would like to see improvements in storm water management in the county. She wants to close a loophole for single-family homes and advocate for a greener, plant-based, approach to be used in storm water management.

Ashwani Jain (At-large)

Ashwani JainCOURTESY PHOTO  County native and a Democrat, Jain said he got his first foray into politics when he was asked in high school by then-Senator Barack Obama’s campaign for president to volunteer. Jain, a cancer survivor who said for much of his life he felt powerless, said politics gave him empowerment and a sense of purpose. Jain worked campaigning for Obama much of his life until he was hired to work at the White House.

Jain, 28, said the issues of the County, affordable housing, schools, traffic and inclusion are related and that the County’s solutions to problems should be multi-dimensional.

“For me all those issues are interconnected end the best way we can close the opportunity gap is to address all those issues in a comprehensive way,” Jain said.

Jain said the County should pass a “Community Trust” ordinance to declare the County as a sanctuary jurisdiction.

Sanctuary jurisdiction is a loosely-defined term for cities and counties that prevent their local officials from assisting with enforcement of immigration law. County officials have said that Montgomery County is not a sanctuary county, and cooperates with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “serious criminals.”

However, Jain said he believes Montgomery County is a sanctuary jurisdiction.

“Given the fact we already operate as a sanctuary jurisdiction we just need the political will to declare it as such,” Jain said.

On education, Jain said he supports universal pre-kindergarten, saying it would cut the opportunity gap for the County’s African-American and Latino students. Jain said he also supports increasing the County’s minimum wage to $15 per hour saying the County needs a “living wage.”

 Jain also said the County is losing technology start-ups and said he supports incentives, including tax incentives, to keep entrepreneurs in the County.

“We got to make sure if you are starting a business or you have a business that you are able to keep that business,” Jain said.




Two more at-large candidates file for County Council seats

  • Published in Local

Will Jawando Mohammad SiddiqueWill Jawando (D) and Mohammad Siddique (D) both filed for at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council. COURTESY PHOTOS  Since the new term limits amendment to the County charter, preventing reelection bids for at-large incumbent Council members Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich, there will be at least three new At-Large Council members in 2018. Two more at-large candidates officially filed for County Council this week, bringing the total number of candidates to 11 for four at-large seats.

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