With about five weeks to go before the Democratic Primary on June 26, the six Democratic candidates for County Executive have made their pitch to a wide variety of voter interests and constituent groups as they each tried to set him or herself apart in the field.
On Monday, Jewish voters had their turn to listen to and weigh in on the debate as the six Democratic candidates for County Executive gathered for another forum, this time at Kol Shalom in Rockville. The issues ranged from the rise in hate crimes and security to the County’s economy, with the candidates rehashing debates and making attempts to appeal to Jewish voters.
For months a new face has appeared on television airwaves, on banner ads for websites, at Metro stops, and commercials on YouTube.
While admittedly an unknown six months ago when he entered the race for Montgomery County Executive, businessman David Blair has used his own money to fund an advertisement blitz six weeks away from June 26 Democratic Primary.
Blair, who served as chair of Accountable Health Solutions before he decided to run for County Executive, has used online and traditional marketing to help bring his name recognition to voters in the County, including a commercial of him standing outside the White House saying while he is a rich businessman with no experience in elected office, he is the “opposite of the Donald Trump.”
“Montgomery County is still an amazing place to live, but we’re slipping in certain areas,” Blair said.
After heated debates and discussion, the County Council on Tuesday finally reached an agreement on what to do about the proposed Montrose Parkway East road project – delay it for at least year.
The compromise keeps the idea of the project alive while pushing the decision to build down the road. Although it has been on county planners’ minds for years, the project became more significance after Amazon listed Montgomery County – specifically a site close to the proposed road near the former White Flint mall – on a list of possible destinations for its proposed second headquarters.
SILVER SPRING — With three months to go before the June 26 primary, the six candidates had another chance in front of a crowd of 300 people at the Silver Spring Civic Center to clarify why they should replace the term-limited County Executive Isiah Leggett as the occupant of the highest office in Montgomery County.
Former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow, local businessman David Blair, Del. Bill Frick, County Council members Roger Berliner, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich each made his or her case.
Krasnow explained why voters should choose her for County Executive
“I have a track record of getting things done,” said Krasnow – the only woman in the race – in response to a question from Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart. “I do have governmental executive experience … and I learned when I went from being on the City Council of Rockville to mayor that it is very different being in that executive position.”
While there wasn’t much daylight between the candidates on most issues at the forum, which was hosted by the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County, some indicated they had disagreements on some financial matters and on reforming the County’s liquor retail monopoly.
SILVER SPRING — In what has become a weekly ritual as the June primary draws closer, five of the Democratic candidates running for County Executive gathered at the Silver Spring Civic Center for yet another candidate forum.
The Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County hosted the forum, which was moderated by WAMU reporter Armando Trull. Appropriately enough, the discussion revolved mostly around issues important to the County’s largest Latino population. Candidates in attendance included Council members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow and businessman David Blair. Delegate Bill Frick was the lone candidate to not attend, as he was in Annapolis fulfilling his duties as a state delegate.
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.
The new public finance laws in Montgomery County are leading to a war of words between two current council members running for County Executive.
Marc Elrich, (D-At-Large) is using public financing and claims Roger Berliner (D-1), who isn’t using public financing, is part of the problem with politics.
In the first required finance report of the 2018 campaign season, Berliner reports that real estate development businesses, and individuals associated with those firms, contributed approximately $266,000 - nearly half - of the funds his campaign raised from Jan. 10, 2017 to Jan. 10, 2018, according to the State Board of Elections.
These groups include local residential and commercial real estate developers, building contractors and financial investment firms associated with real estate.
“The business community is obviously a significant stakeholder in our county, and I’m proud to have the business community’s support,” Berliner said. “I’m proud that the business community believes that I am the best candidate to lead our county to a more prosperous future.”
“This is why we need public financing,” Elrich said. “The whole point behind public financing is to take special interests out of elections like this. In Montgomery County there’s never been a bigger special interest than real estate development. There is no rival to the real estate development industry. What they look for is people who will minimize the impact on them of the cost of doing business in Montgomery County. Clearly Roger is heavily dependent on them for money.”
Local leaders look to mitigate effects of federal tax plan
Local leaders are bracing for the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which could hit County residents hard by eliminating a useful deduction for high tax states and cities.
On Wednesday both the House and Senate passed the long-awaited tax bill, which provides for $1.5 trillion in federal tax cuts and temporarily the top income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. The bill’s personal income tax cuts were written to expire in some years to meet requirements imposed by Senate rules, while cuts to the nation's corporate tax rate are permanent.
“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation that Congress has passed in decades to help the American worker, to help grow the American economy,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc), who has been pushing for massive tax cuts for the majority of his political career. “This is profound change, and this is change that is going to put our country on the right path.”
While many Americans’ taxes will be decreased, a provision in the bill that caps property tax deductions at $10,000 has become an issue for residents in places with high property taxes according to elected leaders.
Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner (D-1) wrote a letter urging Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Firestine to allow residents to prepay property taxes in order take advantage of the current, and more favorable tax deduction before the new tax cut takes effect.
ROCKVILLE — No program is safe from cuts as the County seeks to mitigate the effects of a projected budget shortfall next fiscal year, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said.
Last week Leggett announced that the County officials were anticipating a large unexpected budget shortfall, and asked that each County agency consider cutting two percent of their budget.
The sudden shortfall caught County finance analysts and council members by surprise as they based their $5.4 billion budget for the fiscal year 2018 off of much greater revenue projections.
"For me, everything is on the table, and you try to work through the particular details," Leggett said of the coming budget cuts.