Category Archives: kensington

On the Town of Kensington Election

From a trusted correspondent in Kensington.

For the fourth time in six years, Kensington’s town elections will be uncontested.

The first-term mayor, Tracey Furman; a first-term Town Council member, Duane Rollins, and a newcomer to Kensington politics, Bridget Hill-Zayat, are on the June 4 ballot. All will be elected to two-year terms that begin July 1.

Kensington’s mayor and Council members are chosen in non-partisan elections. The four Council members serve staggered, two-year terms.

The Council’s most senior member, 10-year incumbent Sean McMullen, is not seeking reelection. He has told associates that five terms on the Council was enough. McMullen in recent years had taken the lead in developing the Town’s annual budget.

Furman, who served two terms on the Council before being elected mayor in an uncontested election two years ago, has sought to raise the Town’s profile by encouraging and supporting civic events and promoting local businesses. Kensington, which is home to about 2,400 people, has a small downtown and a number of businesses along or near Connecticut Avenue, the six-lane artery that bisects the town.

Furman’s predecessor as mayor, Peter Fosselman, is one of eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County’s First District council seat. Fosselman’s husband is Rollins, a former business owner in Kensington who was elected to the Town Council in 2016.

Fosselman stepped down as mayor that year, saying he had encouraged Furman to run to succeed him. Furman, who has lived in Kensington nearly 40 years, announced in March her plan to seek another term.

Hill-Zayat is a lawyer whose web site says her work has focused “on the energy and cannabis industries” and that she seeks to help clients develop “successful cannabis businesses.”

The only recent competitive local elections in Kensington were last year, when a first-term Council member, Tom H. Rodriguez, was ousted by newcomer Conor Crimmins, and in 2015 when Rodriguez and Darin Bartram won election in a three-way race. Crimmins and Bartram will be up for reelection next year.

The Town plans a meet-and-greet event for this year’s candidates on May 21. The election June 4 will be at Town Hall from 6-9 p.m.


Rodriguez Ousted, Crimmins and Bartram Elected in Tight Race

Conor Crimmins
Darin Bartram

From a trusted correspondent in Kensington:

Kensington voters last night ousted a Town Council incumbent while reelecting another in a nonpartisan election that drew a robust turnout, at least by recent local standards.

The leading vote-getter in the field of three candidates was Conor D. Crimmins, a newcomer to Town politics who polled 233 votes. Trailing Crimmins, who moved to Kensington just three years ago, was Darin R. Bartram, a two-term Council member, who won 210 votes.

Tom Rodriguez

The losing candidate, Tom H. Rodriguez, received 207 votes — confirming expectations that the outcome would be close. Observers figured that at least 200 votes would be necessary to win election, given the intensity of the campaign that had preceded the voting.

In all, 358 paper ballots were marked in the election that spanned three hours and even produced short lines of waiting voters at Town Hall.

In Kensington’s most recent contested Town election, in 2015, 244 votes were cast. Rodriguez and Bartram were elected then, with 158 and 157 votes, respectively. Both men are registered Republicans.

Crimmins, chief operating officer at Spider Strategies, a technology and consulting firm in Washington, had stumped vigorously for votes, spending weeks going door-to-door across the town of 2,300 people. He maintained that the Town government should move more swiftly to address such issues as traffic congestion, parking restrictions, and the appearance of Kensington’s commercial district.

Crimmins, a registered Democrat, also pledged courtesy and respect in dealings with townspeople, some of whom have grumbled that Council members can be prickly in responding to complaints and suggestions.

Bartram, a partner at Baker Hostetler who works on the conservative side in environmental and constitutional law, advocated status quo in Town governance. He endorsed Rodriguez’s reelection bid, for example. And speaking at a candidates’ forum two weeks before the election, Bartram praised “the very good dynamic” on Town Council, the four members of which serve staggered two-years terms. Kensington also elects a mayor to two-year terms. The Town’s day-to-day affairs are run by a town manager and an assistant town manager.

Rodriguez, who is a project director for Luntz Global, a research firm run by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, conducted an extensive door-to-door campaign. He emphasized his role in chairing the Town’s Greenscape Committee, which has overseen the recent installation of a fountain and brick walkway at a park across from Kensington’s post office.

Rodriguez also was host at a picnic for Townspeople two days before the voting.

In some ways, the election was as much social event as political exercise. During the hours of voting, townspeople mingled outside of Town Hall, chatting with each other, with the candidates, and with other elected officials, who included state delegates and former and incumbent Kensington mayors.


Cordial Candidate Forum in Kensington

A trusted correspondent sent in this report on last night’s candidates’ forum in Kensington.

Fireworks, there were none.

The three candidates for two Kensington Town Council seats spent a rather cordial hour last night, largely agreeing on issues such as traffic enforcement, development, and pay increases for Town staff.

They gathered at a moderated candidates’ forum on a stage at Town Hall, a program two weeks before the town’s nonpartisan election.

The two-term incumbent, Darin Bartram, advocated status quo, saying that in the four years he’s served, “We’ve had a very good dynamic on the Council.” He declared himself “a voice of reason or moderation” on the four-person panel.

Tom Rodriguez, who is seeking a second term, emphasized his leadership on the Town’s parks and events committees. He also noted that his hometown in Florida has been overrun by development and traffic — a scenario he vowed not to allow in Kensington, a town of about 2,300 people that is bisected by heavily traveled Connecticut Avenue.

The challenger, Conor Crimmins, acknowledged that he and his opponents are “not very different in how we look at Kensington.” But he said he wants to move matters more quickly through Town committees and to stimulate citizen participation in Town governance. Voting in the town election can be a start, he said. “Let’s see voter turnout skyrocket” on June 5.

Two years ago, Bartram and Rodriguez won election in a three-way race with a little more than 150 votes, a fraction of the Town’s registered voters.

None of the candidates expressed opposition to the 4 percent pay increases proposed in fiscal 2018 for top Town staff. “We ought to be a leader in Montgomery County in what we pay” staff, Rodriguez said.

He and Bartram said they would support lowering the minimum voting age in Town elections to 16. Crimmins offered no position on that question, which was one of a dozen or so raised by the 40 people attending the program. They wrote questions on index cards and submitted them to a moderator, who sometimes combined the queries in posing them to the candidates.

There were no missteps or gaffes, although Bartram at one point said, “I love getting new ideas from people — and me.”

Crimmins pledged to be “extremely approachable” and vowed courtesy and respect in dealings with Townspeople. Rodriguez called for stepped up enforcement of traffic laws and said the planned bicycle patrols by county police promise to be “a fantastic innovation.”


Fosselman Not Seeking Reelection

Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman is not seeking reelection to a sixth term this year. He has asked Councilmember Tracy Furman to file for Mayor and she has. Among the highlights of Fosselman’s tenure was the approval of the new sector plan allowing for higher density in downtown Kensington.

This will be a real change in leadership for Kensington. Beyond winning five terms, Pete has been deft at managing Council meetings and very successful in getting his preferred candidates elected to the Town Council.


Kensington Elects Republican Operative to Town Council

The Town of Kensington held an election for two seats on the Town Council on Monday, June 1. Incumbent Paul Sexton did not run for reelection, so there was an open seat. Two candidates filed besides incumbent Darin Bartram.

Tommy Rodriguez, 27, is a Republican pol who worked advance for Romney and on Ron George’s gubernatorial bid. George came in last in the Republican primary with just 12.4%. Rodriguez was endorsed by Sexton, his cousin, who campaigned hard for him.

The other new contender, Attorney Clifford Scharman, is the husband of former Councilmember Barbara Scharman who served from 1999 through 2003. Cliff Scharman submitted a brief on the locally controversial Costco gas stations case.

Here are the results:

Tom H. Rodriguez, 158 (64.8%)
Darin R. Bartram, 157 (64.3%)
Clifford J. Scharman, 117 (48.0%)

I hear that Rodriguez knocked on more doors than Scharman and generally ran a stronger campaign, including a barbeque in the park on the evening before the election.