Sunday, January 29, 2023

Opinion | Endorsements for Montgomery County Council Democratic primary

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Voters in Montgomery County decided in 2020 to add two new seats to the County Council, creating an 11-member body. That decision, paired with the departure of three incumbents who are term-limited, means there will be at least five new members. With the county facing myriad challenges — including how to broaden the tax base and attract jobs in the aftermath of the crippling pandemic — who will occupy those seats is of critical importance.

More than 50 candidates are on the July 19 Democratic ballot and the winners are likely to prevail in November’s general election. Some of the issues confronting Montgomery are long-standing: clogged roads, a lack of affordable housing, an inhospitable business climate. Others are more recent: a rise in crime, covid-related losses in student learning. Voters would do well to pick candidates committed to solving the real-world problems of Montgomery residents with practical solutions rather than those more interested in making headlines and appeasing advocates.

In the race for four at-large seats, we endorse incumbents Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass and Will Jawando and local businessman and lawyer Scott Goldberg. We are enthusiastic in our support of Mr. Albornoz, Mr. Glass and Mr. Goldberg. The two council members have in their first four years in office proved to be thoughtful and hard-working lawmakers. Mr. Albornoz was at the forefront of Montgomery’s efforts to combat covid-19, establishing health protocols and helping to streamline efforts to get recovery funds to local workers and businesses. Mr. Glass has been a leader in efforts to improve public transportation and pedestrian safety, making public buses free for all children under the age of 18. Mr. Goldberg has built a successful residential property management company, giving him valuable insights into the needs of businesses that are lacking on the council. Our endorsement of Mr. Jawando comes with a reservation. We admire his advocacy for racial equity, his support of libraries and his dedication to public service. However, his tendency to listen to the loudest voices has resulted in ill-advised stands, such as his campaign against school resource officers and his support for rent control legislation that would stifle the production of sorely-needed housing.

District 1: Incumbent Andrew Friedson is the only incumbent running unopposed, a testament to the stellar work of his first four years.

District 2: We endorsed Marilyn Balcombe four years ago when she ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat and we reiterate our belief that her years as a community activist and head of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce has grounded her in the needs of the county. The council would benefit from her pragmatic common sense.

District 3: We urge voters to return Sidney Katz for a third term. With so many new council members, it will be important to have someone with his knowledge and reputation as a consensus builder. Especially pertinent to the post-pandemic challenges facing the county is his work in mental health and public safety issues.

District 4: Amy Ginsburg has a rich history of working with nonprofits, most recently as head of the Manna Food Center. Not only did that work give her keen insights into the challenges facing Montgomery residents, but it honed her ability to bring together community, business and government.

District 5: Jeremiah Pope, long active in his Hillandale neighborhood’s civic associations, is keenly aware of the challenges facing east county residents, and his experience, as a political consultant and chief of staff to a Maryland delegate, equips him in getting those needs addressed.

District 6: Natali Fani-González, former vice chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board and former commissioner for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is well-versed in land issues and how best to build more affordable housing, design safe streets and increase recreational opportunities.

District 7: Dawn Luedtke, an assistant state attorney general with broad experience in education, public safety and health-care law, is forward thinking in her approach to issues. Particularly noteworthy is her work in school safety and training law enforcement officers.



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