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Former Sentinel reporter makes history

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With election win, Danica Roem becomes first openly transgender legislator to serve anywhere in the U.S.

Danica Roem photoDanica Roem after winning three MDDC awards for the Sentinel.                                        FILE PHOTO  The experience and knowledge Virginia Delegate-Elect (and former Montgomery County Sentinel News Editor) Danica Roem (D) gained while covering local politics in Montgomery County proved invaluable to her winning effort in Tuesday’s election, Roem told the Sentinel during an interview the morning after her historic victory, which will make her the first openly transgender individual to serve in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

“When I was news editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel, I was part of a team that did a five-part series on water infrastructure, and I talked a lot about that series,” Roem said. “I talked about water infrastructure a lot on this campaign.”

Such issues might be boring – “the kind of stuff that makes reporters zone out” – but are extremely important, she said. “You’ve gotta take care of your infrastructure.”

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Two more candidates file for County Council

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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.

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County Executive candidates debate issues in Sentinel forum

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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.

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Candidates file for County Council seats

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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.

@neal_earley

 

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Two more at-large candidates file for County Council seats

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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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Trone files for Delaney's seat

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David Trone mugshot 2 5 16David Trone. FILE PHOTO  David Trone is back for a second time around in his run for Congress.

After running the most expensive campaign in state history, the local businessman and Potomac resident announced his campaign for the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 6th District seat in a video posted on his website Wednesday.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Trone spent $13.41 million on his congressional campaign in 2016 – a race he lost to Jamie Raskin.

Trone said he plans to continue the work of Congressman John Delaney, who recently announced he is running for President of the United States in 2020.

“John is a good friend and a great representative,” said Trone. “With your help I’ll pick up right where John leaves off.”

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Sayles makes fourth bid for Gaithersburg council seat

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Laurie Anne SaylesLaurie-Anne Sayles. FILE PHOTO  GAITHERSBURG – A longtime civic activist in the city is launching her fourth bid to become a member of the City Council.

Gaithersburg resident Laurie-Anne Sayles is seeking a City Council position in the city’s municipal elections this fall, her fourth time running.

“I am learning to continue the work I have been doing, but with the power of the people behind me and (with) the resources of government to activate and mobilize others to turn a collective vision into reality," Sayles said.

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Public information officer to run for County Council

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Neil GreenbergerNeil Greenberger.     COURTESY PHOTO  Neil Greenberger, the Montgomery County Council’s public information officer, announced Thursday night that he plans on running for County Council in 2018.

Greenberger, a former sports reporter for the Washington Post and 11-year veteran as the legislative information officer at the County Council, said he will run as a Democrat for one of the four at-large County Council seats.

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Two more residents file to run as they seek county office

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Two more people filed to run for County office last week after the filing period begun Feb. 28.

North Potomac consultant and former teacher Ed Amatetti filed last week, and is running as a Republican for the County Council District 2 seat, while Rockville accountant Richard Gottfried filed for one of the open County Council at-large seats and is running as a Democrat.

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Suffocating the voice of the people

 

The 2014 election serves as the poster child for the impact that gerrymandering has on our elections. The 2014 election was, to say the least, a total disaster for Democrats as it resulted in Republicans taking over the Senate as well as pick up additional seats in the House. This occurred despite the fact that Democrats received more votes in total across the country than did Republicans.

Likewise, in the 2012 elections, although seven states voted for President Obama, they elected a majority Republican Congressional delegation. Virginia is one such state; Barack Obama won this state twice, yet eight of Virginia's 11 members of the House are Republicans while just three are Democrats. How is this possible? Simple. Gerrymandering of voting districts!

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