Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Gabe Albornoz is Running for County Council At-Large

Today, Seventh State is pleased to present a guest post by Gabe Albornoz.

Not long after the final results were announced in the 2016 Presidential cycle a sense of frustration and sadness spread through our county and country. There was a documented increase in reported hate crimes. Not even Montgomery County was immune to the hate and bigotry that was spreading across the country. In response to the tension inflicting our community, County Executive Leggett appointed a team of senior officials from his administration to produce an event that reaffirmed Montgomery County values. I was honored to have been appointed to that committee and serve as the emcee for an event that would be called the The Montgomery Way.

The event took place a few weeks after the election on a cold November day on Veterans Plaza. The elements did not stop over a thousand residents from hearing messages of love, tolerance and peace from elected officials, public officials, inter-faith leaders, and students. The Montgomery Way celebrates our diversity and inclusion; promotes economic prosperity for all; ensures the best possible education for all children; and establishes a high quality of life for its residents, especially those most vulnerable. The event reaffirmed everything I love about Montgomery County and played a big role in my decision to run for Elected Office.

I have deep Montgomery County roots as a lifelong resident, a graduate of MCPS and have lived in Gaithersburg, Bethesda, Silver Spring, and now in Kensington with my wife Catherine, also a native of Montgomery County, and our four young children. My parents immigrated from Chile and Ecuador; both attended Montgomery College and instilled in me the value of hard work and to treat everyone with dignity and respect. It is a gift to have been raised here. I believe it is my responsibility, elected or not, to pass its opportunities on to all of our children and future generations.

I have dedicated my career to public service and fighting for just social policies through my work in the non-profit sector and more recently as a member of County Executive Ike Leggett’s cabinet. I have always considered my work as Director of the Department of Recreation, Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and service in other public sector roles to be a privilege.

I have worked to improve the quality of life for County residents by growing our recreational programs, addressing the opportunity gaps among our children through expanded after-school programs, and leading efforts to keep our senior citizens in their homes and active in the community. I have learned much from my hands-on experiences working collaboratively with diverse communities and constituencies and have the skill, passion and perspective to promote respectful engagement and unity in our County.

Maintaining the greatness and opportunity of our County will require commitment and effort, which is why I am running for County Council. We are facing difficult challenges including aging infrastructure, a fast-growing school system, a stretched safety-net struggling to keep pace with the complex needs of our more vulnerable residents, growing economic disparity among communities, difficult traffic challenges and unmet affordable housing needs.

These challenges come as financial support from federal and state governments are at significant risk of being cut and our local fiscal options to respond are limited. What is not limited is this county’s ability to be imaginative, thoughtful and determined in efforts to address our challenges justly, creatively and effectively. I will bring experienced, inclusive and bold leadership to the next County Council as it carries out its role in charting our county’s future.

I believe that elected office is a noble profession and provides a clear and tangible opportunity to impact social change and serve as a bridge between communities and sectors.  I intend to work closely with other key public stakeholders including the Board of Education, Planning Board, Executive Branch, State Delegation, Montgomery College and others along with leaders in the Non-profit, Business, LGBTQ, Labor, Faith, Health and Civic Communities to collaboratively address the known and unknown challenges ahead.  I humbly seek this office knowing I will follow many other political leaders, among them my current boss, Ike Leggett.

I want to thank my friends, family and especially my wife Catherine and our kids for their incredible support. For the next year, I will meet with residents across the County to better understand your interests, aspirations, and concerns. I invite you to join me on this journey.  To learn more, please visit my website www.gabeforcouncil.com.

Gabe Albornoz is running for Montgomery County Council At-Large.

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Ana Sol Gutierrez Files for Public Financing in Council District 1

By Adam Pagnucco.

Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, who has served District 18 since 2002, has created a public financing account for a run in Council District 1.  While Ana is known for running up big vote totals in Wheaton, she actually lives in Chevy Chase and is eligible to run in the increasingly jam-packed D1 race.  Ana is known for her passionate work on behalf of immigrants and her enthusiastic support for the Purple Line, the latter being unusual among District 18 state legislators.  Her run for council will have a huge impact on both the District 1 and District 18 races, subjects on which David Lublin and I will have plenty to say in the near future.

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Our Revolution Responds

Edward Fischman of Our Revolution Montgomery County responds to yesterday’s post:

Adam Pagnucco wrote a piece here in The Seventh State that starts with a legal conclusion that isn’t clear. It accuses Brandy Brooks’ campaign of breaking the law. Ms. Brooks has discussed the matter with the State Board of Elections and has obtained definitive guidance on how to achieve the charitable goals she set out to accomplish with her Power 100 promotion.

I am writing because Mr. Pagnucco’s piece curiously dragged me into the matter, because I shared her promotion in a post on social media (editor’s note: posted above). We are in a strange era where the act of sharing a post on Facebook post becomes news in itself. So be it.

There is an important lesson or two in these events. First, politics is a game played for keeps. Those of us who have become involved in grassroots organizing may be unprepared for the consequences, but it seems we must be careful about what we share in social media when we are promoting a cause or a candidate we are interested in. If we embellish in sharing a candidate’s own carefully crafted online postings, we must be careful that we are not misstating anything or we risk hurting the cause, organization or candidate we wish to promote. I goofed.
There must be, however, a concomitant obligation for those who seek to be opinion-makers and newsmakers in blogging about politics. Mr. Pagnucco’s piece used my mistake to call out Brandy Brooks’ campaign. That was without basis in fact, fairness or good sense. Even a cursory effort to inquire would have led Mr. Pagnucco in a different direction.

After I posted in a Facebook group to share Ms. Brooks well-intended fundraising effort to facilitate charitable donation by her supporters, one councilmember helpfully raised a concern to me about it. That accomplished two things. First, it forced me to look at what I’d written and realize that I’d badly mischaracterized Ms. Brooks’ own promotion of this effort. I corrected that within an hour of the original posting — and noted that I was correcting my own error.

The other thing that this councilmember’s outreach achieved was it spurred me to find a way to connect with Ms. Brooks campaign to raise that councilmember’s concerns about whether Ms. Brooks’ page adequately explained the program in a way that would be one hundred percent kosher. By the end of the day, I had managed to make contact and share the concern. The next day — Saturday — I also sought the candidate at a public event over the weekend, to make sure she understood why I thought it was important for them to speak to the State Board of Elections to make certain the effort was conducted consistently with state financing laws and regulations.

I am impressed with Brandy Brooks’ candidacy. I have no role with the campaign, and certainly do not represent her. Mr. Pagnucco wrote it was “unclear” if I am connected with the campaign. There’s an unspoken implication that i might be. Whatever his role in writing on this site, Mr. Pagnucco has worked in journalism and should know better. He could have asked me — or asked the Brooks campaign — about whether I was connected to the campaign, and about the nature of my post. I would have told him that I did not know Brandy Brooks 2 months ago and before this and interacted with her less than an handful of times. Also, I could have pointed out to him that I had revised my Facebook pose, to correct my error in describing the Power 100 effort.

My description was a mistake, but it is no way newsworthy. I was deeply concerned when I realized what I’d mistakenly described the campaign’s proposal for the donations — but thought I’d done very little harm, as it received one “Like,” before I corrected it. Finding my error reposted at the Seventh State is…both surprising and embarrassing, but my reputation is not my aim in writing here. I do not want my error to reflect badly on Brandy Brooks’ campaign.

After the piece was published, Brandy reached out to me to tell me not to worry about any of this — and thanked for me trying to be helpful in sharing information about the opportunity to support her campaign and charities she felt worthy. She has explained to me what steps she is taking to remain compliant with Maryland’s campaign financing laws.

More importantly though, she has shown me incredible grace and empathy, reaffirming my initial impressions of her. Grace and empathy are qualities that too often seem missing in our society in our politics and in our government. These were the qualities that motivated Ms. Brooks’ intention to encourage charitable support for disaster victims.
Those of us who opine in public forums could all use an injection of grace and empathy. That should be our starting point. When those qualities are replaced by cynicism, we are all made smaller.
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Maryland Asian Caucus Members Call for Changing State Song

By Adam Pagnucco.

Eight Maryland state legislators comprising the General Assembly’s Asian Caucus are applauding the removal of the statehouse’s Roger Taney statue and calling for changing Maryland’s disgraceful state song.  Their statement appears below.

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Maryland Asian Caucus Members Applaud Removal of Taney Statue and Call for Changing State Song

As members of Maryland’s Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus, we applaud the recent decision to remove the statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney from the State House grounds and further call on the General Assembly to revise or replace our state song.

The Taney statue and the state song celebrate aspects of Maryland history in which we take no pride. The Confederate and Nazi themed white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia have reopened wounds from our nation’s history of slavery, segregation, and racial inequality. There are other ways to educate the public about this painful history without glorifying one of the worst rulings in American jurisprudence.

The State House grounds has room for only two large statues. Maryland has but one state song. Let us use these three unique opportunities to highlight a Maryland history that makes our entire population proud. Let us relegate the more sordid aspects of the past to museums, history books, and other formats more appropriate for conveying the divisive evolution Maryland has witnessed over the decades. The threat of backtracking on America’s progress on race relations make this a more timely history lesson now than ever before.

Senator Susan Lee

Delegate Kriselda Valderrama

Delegate Aruna Miller

Delegate Clarence Lam

Delegate Mark S Chang

Delegate David Moon

Delegate Kumar Barve

Delegate Jay Jalisi

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New Estimates of Turnout Changes by Race

In an piece for The Monkey Cage, Bernard Fraga, present new estimates from Catalist of changes in turnout by race from 2012 to 2016.

Nationally, African-American turnout declined by 4.7%. In contrast, white turnout was up 2.4%, Asian-American turnout increased by 3.0%, and Latino turnout rose by 3.8%. In Maryland, white turnout rates increased by 1.8%, while black turnout fell by 3.3%. Data for other groups were unavailable.

The blog post suggests that Clinton might have won if she had been able to keep black turnout as high as 2012 by taking Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, albeit the latter two by razor thin margins. Of course, it was never likely that she would inspire as high an African-American turnout as the first black president.

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And We’re Back. . .


After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to start blogging again. I’m hoping to move to a new platform and URL so watch this spot to follow Maryland Politics Watch. For now, I’m not going to publish comments because I just don’t have the time or desire to moderate them. Enjoy!
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