Category Archives: Takoma Park

Certain of Victory, Candidates Move to Takoma Park

By Adam Pagnucco.

Real estate agents in Takoma Park report that home values in the City have doubled in the last month as local candidates swarm in to buy houses.  “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said local realtor Walt Simonson.  “They say they want to win their next election and they’re beating out all other bids!”

The candidate frenzy is driven by a surge of media coverage about Takoma Park’s dominance of the County Council.  City residents occupy three of the four at-large seats.  Also, Congressman Jamie Raskin, Comptroller Peter Franchot and DNC Chairman Tom Perez live in Takoma Park.  As a result, a home in the City is seen by many as locking down a victory for elected office.

“If I can just get that house on Poplar Avenue, I know I’m gonna win,” said County Council candidate Evan Glass, who was relocating from Silver Spring.  When shown data illustrating that the city’s dominance of the council was temporary, Glass didn’t believe it.  “Fake news!  I believe in winning.  Don’t you?”

Some incumbents who represent districts in other parts of the county are renting second homes in Takoma Park just to increase their chances of reelection.  Your author witnessed District 17 Delegate Kumar Barve, who is facing a challenger, signing a lease for a Maple Avenue apartment.  On being asked what he was doing, Barve replied to your author, “None of your business!”

Political observers believe that Takoma Park residents will win ten council seats in the upcoming election.  That’s noteworthy since there are only nine council offices at present.  “We are installing a tenth council position reserved for Takoma Park.  It will have veto power over the other council seats,” said Seth Grimes, a former City Council Member running for County Council.  “In the unlikely event you elect non-City residents to the other seats, it won’t matter.  But good luck anyway!”

Takoma Park’s dominance of local government is manifest in the regular shipments of gold bullion it receives, all stamped with the Montgomery County Government seal.  When your author noticed a new shipment being unloaded into the city’s treasury vault, Mayor Kate Stewart said, “You’re not supposed to see that.”  Workers proceeded to drape tarps over the bullion as it was hauled in.

The City is greatly aided in its mission to control world politics by its Takoma Park Political Domination School, established in 1890.  Enrollment in the school is mandatory for all residents.  Students are taught the fine arts of door-knocking, money-raising (except from developers), campaign rhetoric and opposition to conservatives.  Many residents enroll their children in the school shortly after birth.  “We start them young,” said employee Flo Steinberg, who works in the school’s Political Daycare Center.  Two-year-old Marcy was seen receiving language training from Steinberg.  “Liberal,” said Steinberg.  “Lib-wuhl,” replied Marcy.  “No, no.  Lib.  Err.  Al.”  The school’s success is proven by U.S. Census Bureau data indicating that 82% of Takoma Park’s residents are current, former or future elected officials.  The other 18% are recent arrivals.

Xerxes Z-1, commandant of Galactic Fleet 26 from Planet X, agreed that the City dominated Earth politics.  “When we came to this planet, we did not go to the White House.  We are not interested in discount golf club memberships, financial transactions with Russian oligarchs or Cheetos.  We asked to be taken to your leaders and of course that meant coming to Takoma Park.”  The alien commander spoke from the grounds of the Takoma Park Political Domination School, where he had enrolled immediately upon reaching Earth.

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Does Takoma Park Dominate the At-Large Council Seats?

By Adam Pagnucco.

The county’s Charter Review Commission is considering recommending a charter amendment that would abolish or reduce the number of the County Council’s at-large seats, which account for four of the council’s nine seats.  One reason for this is that currently three of the four at-large seats are held by residents of Takoma Park, long regarded as the most left-wing jurisdiction in the State of Maryland.  Over the years, your author has heard sporadic complaints that Takoma Park’s alleged dominance of the council has pushed the council to the left and/or directed excessive resources to Downcounty and the city.

The fact is that Takoma Park’s current holding of three seats is very disproportionate relative to its population (roughly 18,000 in a county of a million people).  But it hasn’t always been that way.  Below is the residence history of at-large Council Members since the current council structure was created in 1990.

At-Large Council Member Residency, 1990-2018

1990-1994

Bruce Adams: Bethesda

Gail Ewing: Potomac

Ike Leggett: Burtonsville

Mike Subin: Gaithersburg

1994-1998

Gail Ewing: Potomac

Ike Leggett: Burtonsville

Neal Potter: Chevy Chase

Mike Subin: Gaithersburg

1998-2002

Blair Ewing: Silver Spring

Ike Leggett: Burtonsville

Steve Silverman: Silver Spring

Mike Subin: Gaithersburg

2002-2006

Nancy Floreen: Garrett Park

George Leventhal: Takoma Park

Steve Silverman: Silver Spring

Mike Subin: Gaithersburg

2006-2010

Marc Elrich: Takoma Park

Nancy Floreen: Garrett Park

George Leventhal: Takoma Park

Duchy Trachtenberg: North Bethesda

2010-2014

Marc Elrich: Takoma Park

Nancy Floreen: Garrett Park

George Leventhal: Takoma Park

Hans Riemer: Silver Spring/Takoma Park

Note: Riemer moved from Silver Spring to Takoma Park in the middle of his first term.

2014-2018

Marc Elrich: Takoma Park

Nancy Floreen: Garrett Park

George Leventhal: Takoma Park

Hans Riemer: Takoma Park

At-large terms with a resident on the council, 1990-2018

Takoma Park: 8.5

Gaithersburg: 4

Garrett Park: 4

Silver Spring: 3.5

Burtonsville: 3

Potomac: 2

Bethesda: 1

Chevy Chase: 1

North Bethesda: 1

It’s also worth noting that over these seven terms, only one term saw a Takoma Park resident representing Council District 5 (Tom Perez in 2002-2006).  The other elected District 5 Council Members – Derick Berlage, Valerie Ervin and Tom Hucker – have lived in Silver Spring.

Takoma Park’s dominance of the at-large seats began in earnest in 2006 and appears to be temporary.  Council Members George Leventhal and Marc Elrich are term-limited and leaving the council.  Council Member Hans Riemer will get one more term before he is out too.  Of the current field of Democratic at-large candidates, your author knows of just one – former City Council Member Seth Grimes – who comes from Takoma Park and intends to run.  A bigger issue is that most at-large members tend to come from Downcounty, but that’s natural considering that’s where most regular Democratic voters live.

There may be good reasons for going to an all-district council structure and your author does not have a strong opinion on that.  But instituting a permanent, structural fix like reorganizing the council is not an appropriate remedy for dealing with a temporary issue like Takoma Park’s number of at-large seats.  Proponents of reducing the at-large seats need a better argument.

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