Category Archives: 2018 Elections

House of Delegates Wrap Up: Districts 39-47

Top Line

Three incumbents go down in Democratic primaries: Bilal Ali, Jimmy Tarlau and Carlos Sanchez.

By the District

Remember that the returns are incomplete as we are still waiting on absentee and provisional ballots.

District 39 (Montgomery) was full of surprises this year. Incumbent Dels. Shane Robinson and Kirill Reznik decided early on to run with Lesley Lopez. Lopez topped the ballot but Robinson fell into fourth and Reznik struggled to stay ahead of Robinson in third. Gabriel Acevero won the second slot.

Just before the election, Acevero’s employer, MCGEO, summarily decided to cease efforts on his behalf because the African-American Democratic Club of which Acevero is president did not endorse candidates to MCGEO’s liking. Acevero will be the first openly gay African American elected to the General Assembly.

Incumbents Frank Conaway and Nick Mosby won renomination in District 40 (Baltimore City) but Conaway fell into third behind newcomer Melissa Wells. He nonetheless finished comfortably, albeit not light years, ahead of an array of other challengers.

Newcomer Dalya Attar stormed on to the District 41 (Baltimore City) scene and took first place, narrowly ahead of incumbent Del. Sandy Rosenberg. Incumbent Tony Bridges struggled to stay in third. Bridges currently leads Angela Gibson by 237 votes. Meanwhile, incumbent Bilal Ali is now in fourth, as he trails Gibson by 9 votes.

Incumbent Democratic Del. Stephen Lafferty faced no opposition for renomination in District 42A (Baltimore). He will face Republican Stephen McIntire in the general election. No incumbents are seeking reelection in Republican-leaning 42B (Baltimore). The GOP primary was easily won by Nino Mangione and Tim Robinson. Mangione is a former talk radio host.

In District 43 (Baltimore City), incumbent Del. Maggie McIntosh led the field. Dueling for second place are incumbent Del. Curt Anderson, who faces sexual misconduct allegations, and Regina Boyce, who ran on a ticket with Sen. Joan Carter Conway and McIntosh. Nilesh Kalyanaraman trailed Anderson by 0.9%, or 369 votes, in preliminary returns.

Incumbent Del. Keith Haynes faced no opposition in District 44A (Baltimore City). Incumbent Dels. Charles Sydnor and Pat Young won renomination in 44B (Baltimore) against healthy opposition from Aisha Khan and Aaron Barnett.

In District 45 (Baltimore City), incumbents Talmadge Branch and Cheryl Glenn won easily and will be joined by Stephanie Smith, who beat out Caylin Young and an array of other candidates. Young now trails Smith by 1.6%, or 498 votes. Incumbent Democrats easily won renomination in District 46 (Baltimore City).

Incumbent Del. Jimmy Tarlau fell to Julian Ivey, son of former State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and now County Councilmember-Elect Jolene Ivey, in District 47A. Tarlau trailed Ivey by 386 votes in the preliminary results. Incumbent Del. Diana Fennell led the field and easily won renomination. In 47B, incumbent Del. Carlos Sanchez also lost reelection. Sanchez received just 39% as opposed to 59% for Wanika Fisher, a former assistant state’s attorney as well as staffer for the county council and former Sen. Victor Ramirez. She now works in Ramirez’s law firm.


House of Delegates Primary Roundup: Districts 24-38

Remember that all vote totals are incomplete as absentee and provisional ballots have yet to be counted.

In District 24 (Prince George’s), Prince George’s Councilmember Andrea Harrison snagged the open slot, coming well ahead (1352 votes in the election night returns) of the fourth-place candidate, LaTasha Ward, in a crowded field. She’ll join incumbent Dels. Erek Barron and Jazz Lewis.

In District 25 (Prince George’s), incumbent Dels. Darryl Barnes and Dereck Davis cruised to reelection with Barnes besting Economic Matters Chair Davis by 878 votes in election night returns. They will be joined in the House by Nick Charles who easily captured the third seat, beating fourth-place finisher Wala Blegay by 2022 votes.

Incumbent Dels. Jay Walker, Kris Valderrama and former Del. Veronica Turner cruised to the Democratic nomination in District 26 (Prince George’s). Turner returns to the House after losing a primary bid against Sen. Anthony Muse by 51% to 33% in 2014.

Del. Susie Proctor, appointed to the House for District 27A (Prince George’s & Charles) after the death of her husband, won the nomination in her own right with 55% of the vote. Her nearest challenger, Lynn Jackson, won 19%. The incumbents in 27B (Calvert & Prince George’s) and 27C (Calvert) faced no primary opponents.

In District 28 (Charles), incumbent Dels. Edith Patterson and C.T. Wilson easily won renomination. They will be joined by County Commissioner Debra Davis, who won the open seat by a very comfortable margin. Charles now has an entirely African-American state legislative delegation, and one wonders if one of the three delegate nominees, all experienced elected officials, wishes they had run against Mac Middleton, who lost renomination to a first-time candidate.

The three incumbent Republican delegates in 29A (St. Mary’s), 29B (St. Mary’s), and 29C (St. Mary’s and Calvert) faced no opposition for renomination.

District 30A (Anne Arundel) has seen strong competition in general elections. Speaker Mike Busch topped the Democratic ticket and will be joined on the ballot by Alice Cain. Though well behind Busch, Cain easily won the second slot. On the Republican side, there are no incumbents and newcomers Bob O’Shea and Chelsea Gill won the nominations. Shea, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Annapolis mayor in 2013, was well out in front, while Gill beat third-place finisher B. Darren Burns by 183 votes in preliminary returns. Incumbent Del. Seth Howard (R) won renomination in District 30B (Anne Arundel) by a 3-1 margin.

Incumbent Del. Ned Carey (D) faced no primary opposition in District 31A (Anne Arundel). Incumbent Del. Nick Kipke (R) will be joined on the ballot by Brian Chisholm, who easily outdistanced the competition for the second slot in 31B (Anne Arundel). Chisholm came in fourth in the 2014 primary.

Incumbent Del. Mark Chang led the Democratic field in District 32 (Anne Arundel). He’ll be joined on the ballot by J. Sandy Bartlett and Mike Rogers, who won comfortably over the fourth-place candidate. Bartlett is a member of the Anne Arundel DCC, while Rogers is a retired army colonel. Both are African American. The three Democrats will face Republicans who had no primary competition.

The three incumbent Republicans in District 33 (Anne Arundel) won renomination, though Tony McConkey struggled hard for a long-time incumbent. Running well behind the other two incumbents, he beat Stacie MacDonald by just 288 votes in preliminary returns. In the past, McConkey has lost his law and real estate licenses, and was reprimanded by the House for trying to get a bill passed to make it easier for him to get the latter back.

In District 34A (Harford), incumbent Del. Mary Ann Lisanti cruised to renomination but the battle for the second Republican slot was very tight with Steve Johnson edging out Sarahia Benn but less than 1% or 66 votes. The Republicans had a four-way fight in 34B (Harford). In a very weak showing for an incumbent, Susan McComas won renomination with just 31.5% of the vote, or 34 votes more than Walter “Butch” Tilley, who has given over 100K in campaign donations to members of both political parties.. Assuming her lead holds up, McComas will face Democrat Jeff Dinger in the general election.

The Republican incumbents faced no opposition in Districts 35A (Cecil) or 35B (Cecil and Harford). The three Republicans incumbents also cruised to renomination in District 36 (Caroline, Cecil, Kent & Queen Anne’s Counties). Michael Smigiel, Jr., whose father of the same name was formerly a delegate, trailed badly in fourth, but carried his home Cecil County.

Incumbents faced weak opposition in District 37 with Democratic Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes winning by more than 3-1 in 37A and Republican Dels. Christopher Adams and Johnny Mautz far ahead of the competition with Mautz well out in first.

In Districts 38A (Somerset and Worcester) and 38B (Wicomico), the Republican incumbents cruised to renomination. In 38C (Wicomico & Worcester), Ocean City Councilman Wayne Hartman won the nomination with 49%. Joe Schanno trailed with 39%. Hartman faces no general election opponent.


House of Delegates Primary Roundup Districts 1-23

The Top Line

(1) Incumbents Maricé Morales and Joe Vallario will not be returning to the House of Delegates.
(2) Will Kathleen Dumais replace Vallario as Judiciary Committee Chair?

By the District

Republican Dels. Kathy Szeliga and Rick Impallaria traded barbs during the delegate race in D7 (Baltimore & Harford). Szeliga won the first spot with 23% to 15% for Impallaria. The third nomination went to newcomer Lauren Arikan with 14%, who led Aaron Penman with 11%.

In one of the few districts with split delegations, incumbent D8 (Baltimore) incumbent Republican Joe Cluster (25%) will be joined on the ticket by Joseph Boteler (21%) and Joe Norman (19%). On the Democratic side, incumbent Eric Bromwell (31%) will run with Henry Bhandari (28%) and Carl Jackson (25%)

In District 9B (Howard), former County Councilmember and County Exec Candidate Courtney Watson is set to take on incumbent Republican Del. Bob Flanagan. Watson won the Democratic nomination with 66%,

In District 10 (Baltimore), incumbent Del. Jay Jalisi easily won renomination despite tumultuous headlines during his first term regarding a physical altercation with his daughter.

In District 15 (Montgomery), Lily Qi looks set to join Dels. Kathleen Dumais and David Fraser-Hidalgo in this comfortable Democratic seat. Dumais led with 22%. Fraser-Hidalgo, who tragically lost his wife in the middle of the campaign and had to focus on his kids and grieving, came third with 17%. Qi won 18% to 14% for Amy Friedler and 12% for Kevin Mack.

In District 16 (Montgomery), incumbent Dels. Marc Korman and Ariana Kelly easily won renomination. Samir Paul is leading Sara Love for the third seat by 118 votes, or 0.3%, with absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted.

Incumbent Del. Kumar Barve led in D17 (Montgomery) with 26% followed by Rockville City Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr with 25%. Despite being opposed by incumbent Sen. Cheryl Kagan, Del. Jim Gilchrist easily won a third term with 20%. Kagan-endorsed Julian Haffner trailed with 13%.

In D18 (Montgomery), it looks like Adam Pagnucco called it as incumbent Al Carr led the field with 22% followed by Emily Shetty at 20% and Jared Solomon at 18%. Leslie Milano finished in fourth with 14% with Town of Chevy Chase Councilmember Joel Rubin in fifth with 11%.

In D19 (Montgomery), incumbent Maricé Morales conceded graciously as she fell into fourth place with 16% after losing the Apple Ballot. Her ticket mate, incumbent Bonnie Cullison, led the field with 21%. Making a second bid, Charlotte Crutchfield roared into second with 18% of the vote. She’ll be joined by Vaughn Stewart who came in third with 17%.

In D20 (Montgomery), the ticket of incumbents David Moon (28%) and Jhenelle Wilkins (24%) accompanied by newcomer Lorig Charkoudian (19%) easily won. The race was soured towards the end when fourth place candidate Darian Unger’s (14%) campaign manager, John Rodriguez, was caught on tape throwing out literature for the winning ticket. Unger promptly fired him.

In D21, (Prince George’s), incumbent Dels. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (30%) and Ben Barnes (25%), were renominated and it looks like they be joined by Prince George’s County Councilmember Mary Lehman (19%). Matt Dernoga (18%), who formerly worked for Lehman, trails her by 173 votes.

In D23A (Prince George’s), incumbent Del, Geraldine Valentino-Smith looks to have only narrowly beat back a challenge by Shabnam Ahmed, a former student member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education. Valentino-Smith leads by 35 votes (0.6%) with absentees and provisionals yet to be counted.

D23B was equally interesting as longtime Judiciary Chair Joe Vallario lost with 22% of the vote. He was beat by incumbent Del. Marvin Holmes (27%) and Ron Watson, a former member of the Board of Education and O’Malley political appointee. Vallario was seen as a conservative barrier to progressive initiatives in the House. Vice Chair Kathleen Dumais, an excellent legislator, should be well positioned to succeed him as Chair. However, Anne Kaiser and Kumar Barve from Montgomery already hold  powerful committee chairs, which could complicate matters for the Speaker.



State Senate Primary Roundup

Top Lines

(1) In a series of blows to Mike Miller, incumbent Democratic Sens. Joan Carter Conway, Nathaniel McFadden and Mac Middleton lost renomination. All are safe Democratic seats, so Mary Washington, Cory McCray and Arthur Ellis look set to enter the Senate. Appointed Sen. Barbara Robinson also lost to Del. Antonio Hayes.

(2) Gail Bates, Bobby Zirkin, Ron Young, and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam all fended off serious primary challenges.

(3) Dels. Melony Griffth, former Del.Obie Patterson and Jeff Waldstreicher and appointed Sen. Del. Jill Carter won the nomination from safe seats and should also enter the Senate next year.

Key Races by the District

In D3 (Frederick), incumbent Sen. Ron Young (D) won renomination with 44% in a three-way race with his closest challenger being former Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty, who won 33% of the vote. Not an impressive win for long-time Frederick pol.

In D9 (Howard and Carroll), incumbent Sen. Gail Bates (R) faced a surprisingly strong challenge from Reid Novotny, who argued that Bates is not conservative enough. Despite vastly outspending Novotny, Bates prevalied by just 54% to 46%.

In D11 (Baltimore), incumbent Bobby Zirkin (D) easily turned back a left-wing challenge. Zirkin won 70% to just 30% for Sheldon Laskin.

In Montgomery, the hot race was in D18, where the contest between Del. Jeff Waldstreicher and Dana Beyer for the seat left open by Rich Madaleno’s gubernatorial bid made it the most expensive Senate race in the state. Beyer was making her fourth bid for state legislative office. Waldstreicher won with just under 50% to 37% for Beyer and 13% for newcomer Michelle Carhart.

In Prince George’s, Doug Peters turned back a strong challenge from Tim Adams in D23. Peters prevailed with 59% to 41% for Adams.

In D24, former Del. Tiffany Alston sought to make a comeback in a challenge to incumbent Sen. Joanne Benson. Benson won with 52% to 32% for Alston and 16% for Everett Browning.

Former Del. Melony Griffith beat fellow Del. Angela Angel to win the race to replace Uly Currie in the open D25 (Prince George’s) seat. Griffith won 55% to 37% for Angel.

In D26 (Prince George’s), former Del. (now Councilmember) Obie Patterson beat PGDCC Member Jamila Woods by 58% to 42% to fill the open seat left when Sen. Anthony Muse sought election unsuccessfully to county executive.

Senate President Mike Miller easily turned back a vocal labor and Franchot-supported challenger, winning renomination with 72%.

In one of the great upsets of the night, longtime Sen. Mac Middleton lost renomination to Arthur Ellis, as Ellis won 52% to 48%. Middleton is a close ally of Mike Miller. Reflecting the shift in the racial balance in the county, Ellis will be D28’s (Charles) first African-American senator.

In D30 (Anne Arundel), Sarah Elfreth won the nomination to succeed retiring Sen. John Astle with 59% over progressive businesswoman Chrissy Holt.

D32 (Anne Arundel) is set to be one of the hot fall races. Del. Pam Beidle faced no opposition for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, County Councilmember John Grasso edged out first-time candidate Maureen Bryant by 51% to 49%.

In D34 (Harford), former Del. Mary-Dulany James is set to make her second bid for the Senate against now incumbent Sen. Bob Cassilly. James beat former Barbara Kreamer by 74% to 26%. Kreamer served in the House of Delegates and on the County Council between 1978 and 1991.

In D40 (Baltimore City), Del. Antonio Hayes unseated appointed Sen. Barbara Robinson by 65% to 35%.

In D41 (Baltimore City), unpredictable appointed Sen. and former Del. Jill Carter roared to a comeback, beating J.D. Merrill, a teacher married to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s daughter. Carter won with 55% to 39% for Merrill and 6% for convicted former Sen. Nat Oaks.

In District 42 (Baltimore), Robbie Leonard won the nomination to replace Democrat Jim Brochin, who lost his bid to become Baltimore County Executive. Leonard beat Gretchen Maneval by 60% to 40%. Leonard faces a tough general election fight against Republican Del. Chris West, who had no opposition.

District 43 (Baltimore City) provided another great shock of the night as powerful incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway lost to Del. Mary Washington, who prevailed by 3%. Running against the tide, I think I was one of the few who said Washington had a shot. Conway lost despite a huge warchest and staunch support from Mike Miller and fellow Del. Maggie McIntosh.

In District 44 (Baltimore City & County), Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam turned back a challenge with 67% of the vote to 33% received by Aletheia McCaskill, who won support from SEIU.

In District 45 (Baltimore City), one of the least surprising incumbent defeats was that of incumbent Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, yet another Miller ally, by Del. Cory McCray. The young and energetic McCray beat longtime Sen. McFadden by 17 points.



Hearing from the Candidates on the Stormwater CIP Budget

I am pleased to present this guest post by Sylvia S. Tognetti:

This question was sent to all 60 candidates running for various slots on the County Council. These include five incumbents who were given the option to state their views but not expected to do so given that their positions are known from their public statements and their Council vote. Of the non-incumbents, 10 responded and 45 have not. If more responses are received they will be added, up until election day.

Responses, in the order received:

Dalbin Osorio

I am not in favor of the current manner in which our stormwater program is run. It is more a reactive program than what is necessary, especially as we try to combat the extreme changes in our climate. I would vote to overhaul the entire program, beginning with the hiring of one independent contractor and a partnership with the local universities that would allow for interns to be utilized as a way to create a pipeline between students and facets of county government that they may be interested in. I would mandate that this contractor work with a board appointed by the County’s leading environmentalists, to ensure that the job is done appropriately and that the contractor is not skimping on quality work just to meet costs. We are not meeting the guidelines set forward, nor are we honoring deadlines set to meet certain benchmarks, and I believe this is unacceptable. I would push to increase the capital budget so we can better be prepared for incoming storms.

Seth Grimes

Montgomery County should maintain its long-standing approach to stormwater management, but get serious about progress, perhaps especially redoubling work with owners of properties with expanses of impervious surface and ensuring that county investment lives up to our commitments.

Hans Riemer

Building and maintaining stormwater infrastructure is one of our highest environmental priorities. I was one of 5 votes to support our traditional approach to building this infrastructure, and as Council President I am working to protect our program to the fullest extent.

Ben Shnider

Sound stormwater management policy is essential for protecting our environment and safeguarding our community’s health. We must not prematurely cancel projects and rush ahead with a new approach to stormwater management that lacks clarity. The simple majority of five Councilmembers who supported the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment (T&E) Committee’s recommendation (that retained the current stormwater management approach until all the applicable stakeholders are brought together to formulate recommendations that may enhance the program’s future performance) was more than prudent. The County Executive’s proposal, put forth as the Council was reviewing the entire budget across all County agencies, was unduly hasty. Essentially, the County Executive expected the Council to rubber-stamp his new approach to an important, inherently complicated program, at a time when neither Councilmembers, environmental stakeholders, let alone the public at-large were in a position to fully consider the implications. The T&E Committee’s recommendation, which a simple majority of Councilmembers wisely supported, allows sufficient time for careful review and collaboration among stakeholders between now and the early Fall, when the County Council may fully evaluate any recommendations that may result.

For these reasons, I believe that the County Executive’s line-item veto was unwarranted. His action, along with the refusal (to date) of my Councilmember to support the T&E Committee’s balanced approach, has only resulted in a dangerous stalemate. I hope that all Councilmembers will vote swiftly to override the County Executive’s veto and instead, unequivocally, embark upon a course that places safety, the environment and transparency first.

Meredith Wellington

Do you support the existing or a new approach to managing stormwater? My top environment priorities are reducing greenhouse gases and improving stormwater management. I support the Council’s recommendation to continue with the current program and conduct a thorough review to identify ways to improve and reduce costs for implementation. I believe the County’s current program can be greatly improved. After reviewing the CIP budget, I have concerns that Water Quality Protection Charge funds are being used in a manner for which they were not intended. I will also collect more information on the effectiveness of restoring streams before runoff from higher elevations is controlled. I would also like to review, with DEP and our State delegation, how stormwater management is measured to ‘count’ toward the MS4 permit requirements. Are we treating the most serious runoff challenges or the most accessible and cheapest? How are our streams and waterways improving after treatment? I support green street and similar “green” rather than “gray” stormwater management infrastructure, but want to be assured that systems are right sized for the square footage treated. There have been some challenges to green street installation that I would like to understand better.

In what direction do you think Montgomery County should take its stormwater program? I support continued emphasis on green stormwater management infrastructure. I think there needs to be more education and dialogue around installations so resident embrace green streets. I would like to find a way for shade trees to co-exist with and enhance engineered stormwater management. Our climate is changing, we are experiencing more heavy storms. Our stream valleys are fed by many underground springs and seeps. When building infill development, erecting additions, or other similar activities, we should adopt a “no harm” policy. For example, a new home that creates more impervious surface and installs stormwater management solutions should not negatively impact neighboring structures. Finally, I would like to see greater accountability from WSSC for both their construction work (I have seen workers hose sediment into the local creek) and consent decree compliance.

How can we best prepare for future stormwater needs? We can best prepare for future stormwater needs by reconsidering flood plain maps and identifying current flood patterns; accelerate work to add more green stormwater management to high impervious surface areas like our CBDs and parking lots; incentivize green roofs (double duty to lower carbon emission), rain gardens, tree planting, rain barrels, etc. Funding is also a challenge. The WQPC collections are significant; let’s use that money more effectively and for the purpose legislated. I think DEP has a good education and public awareness program, but it should grow. I would like to create partnerships with property owners and developers to build functioning ecosystems in dense areas as both a teaching tool and stormwater management device. I would also like to see a simpler, more aggressive Tree Montgomery program. I would like to review and strengthen legislation restricting building on steep slopes with highly erodible soils, and create greater incentives for preserving interior forests.

Tom Hucker

I have been involved in this issue for quite a while, including spending four years as the sponsor of Maryland’s HB987, the landmark 2012 statewide Maryland Stormwater Management – Watershed Protection and Restoration Program.

As the Council’s Lead Member for the Environment, I have consistently opposed the proposed new approach to manage stormwater through a very large (approximately $46 million), murky multi-year contract to a single unnamed general contractor.

Like all of us, I would like to see DEP achieving greater efficiencies in its stormwater contracting methods and exceed the goals in its new permit. But such a large, abrupt change that would realistically lock us in for several years before we even know our new state MS4 permit requirements is not the way to do it. In no other area of policy do we create a program before we know what the requirements of the program will be.

Instead, I have consistently advocated for a much smaller, pilot approach in the short term as well as restarting all of the good work that DEP has been doing. I want us to complete dozens of suspended and cancelled projects that we’ve already sunk significant taxpayer dollars into design and pre-construction planning in the short term.

Last but certainly not least, we need more oversight, transparency and accountability. It’s critical that the County establish a meaningful environmental advisory group with a variety of environmental experts like the Stormwater Partners represented on it. I’d like this group to begin convening this summer and hopefully exist for several years with the charge of advising DEP, DPS, the Council and the rest of our government on best practices and innovative ideas on stormwater management going forward. Recent events in Ellicott City show us we need to keep our stormwater efforts moving forward, not backward.

Will Jawando

I support the Council’s decision to pause the County Executive’s effort to move the storm water management program over to a private contractor. I support continuing the storm water management program as currently implemented, specifically work through the 44 delayed projects and review the 26 canceled projects. We should be committed to adhering to the county’s green infrastructure program, and meet at least 60 percent of its MS4 permit requirement using green infrastructure to manage storm water. If we have any changes to the current storm water management program, those changes should be made in full transparency, and in partnership and collaboration with stakeholders, including our environmental nonprofits, private citizens and others. Changes to streamline and improve management are acceptable, but only if they can be proven to continue to help the county meet its watershed restoration targets.

Tim Willard

We need to improve our stormwater management system. The County has been under a consent decree since January for committing numerous violations of its stormwater permit. A major part of the problem is that the County Government has raided the Water Quality Protection Charge for use in the operating budget rather than spending it on physical stormwater projects as was intended. This fund should be dedicated to its original purpose to improve our stormwater management. I oppose the effort to privatize stormwater management projects. While there are some benefits, privatization raises issues of quality control, loss of creativity in designing projects, and lack of communication with home owners near the projects. Organizations interested in stormwater management were kept in the dark while the privatization proposal was being developed which adds to the concern. Restoring funding that was meant to be used for stormwater management is a better solution than privatizing the process.

Evan Glass

I support the existing stormwater management system.

Michele Riley

I support the T&E Committee’s recommendation to move forward with existing projects now. We should not let this important work get hung up over what appears to be a difference of opinion regarding procurement process.

Gabe Albornoz

As a County, we must take actions to address our stormwater management issues so that streams remain clean and our watersheds are healthy. Healthy watersheds make for clean drinking water. We must first address the most degraded watersheds that are most at risk. I agree with our environmental community that 60% of our stormwater projects should be green infrastructure. It is vital that the work under the current State MS4 permit allows for a collaborative review of the program by the environmental community so that the most effective improvements can be made in the next permit.

Bill Conway

The Council exercised its proper authority to withhold approval of the budget for the proposal by Council Executive Leggett, which would have shifted the capital budget for stormwater projects to a single 5-year DBM contract. This proposal represented a substantial change in how the stormwater program is implemented that would be difficult to reverse and for which efficiency and cost-effectiveness are unknown. Also unknown are what the requirements will be under the next stormwater permit that this proposal was presumably intended to address. The Council decision to continue the suspended projects under the current contracting method does not mean the stormwater program cannot or should not be improved. The Council called for an open and transparent review of the program which would provide an opportunity for the County to consider different options and provide input to MDE on more cost-effective and innovative green infrastructure approaches that could be approved for crediting in the next permit cycle. This process would also allow for a more informed decision to be made when future permit obligations are known.


Candidate Views on Leggett’s Line-Item Veto of the Stormwater CIP Budget

Today, I am pleased to present a guest post by Sylvia S. Tognetti:

In the aftermath of back to back storm events and flooding, and with 60 candidates in the primary race for various slots on the County Council, it seemed like it would be useful to find out their views on Leggett’s  line-item veto of the 5-4 majority decision by the Council pertaining to the stormwater CIP budget. ANS, on behalf also of Potomac Conservancy, Friends of Sligo Creek, Conservation Montgomery and the Montgomery Countryside Alliance, sent all of them a single question:

The County Executive issued a line-item veto of a majority Council decision on the stormwater CIP budget. In what direction do you think Montgomery County should take its stormwater program? How can we best prepare for future stormwater needs?

We received 17 responses of which three were from incumbents whose views have already been expressed through their public statements and Council vote – so their response was not expected. That leaves 41 who did not reply and are not incumbents and whose views are unknown.

A few candidates who have not responded let me know in person that, being the week before early voting, this question came at a bad time. I hear you! We would have much preferred to see this radical proposal by the Executive come before the Council with time to properly review it and consider alternatives in an open process, which is what we advocated for, and the Council called for in its majority decision. This is the situation faced now by existing Council members, and we thank those who took the time to understand and thoughtfully consider this complicated issue in this busy time. We can only wonder what those who did not respond would do if elected and presented with a radical proposal in the context of a budget decision, just before a primary election.

This is the first time a line-item veto has been used in 25 years. In its decision, the Council rejected a radical change in how stormwater projects are managed that was proposed by the County Executive. In the proposed new approach, stormwater capital projects would have been bundled and outsourced to a single contractor in a single, 5-year design-build-maintenance contract to treat stormwater runoff from 526 acres of impervious surfaces. This is intended to meet obligations under the next 5-year stormwater permit, which are not yet known, because we will not see a draft of the next permit until this Fall. Instead the Council accepted the recommendation of the Transportation & Environment Committee, to continue the 44 suspended projects – many well into the design phase and ready for construction, under the current approach, and called for an open and transparent public review of the program as a basis for improvements. Six votes are needed to override this veto and continue moving the county’s stormwater program forward.

This proposal came in addition to a $243 million cut in the 6-year stormwater CIP budget, which was accepted by the Council. This was based on an assumption that obligations under the next stormwater permit will be to retrofit only 5% of impervious surfaces that are not already treated to the Maximum Extent Practicable, instead of the 20% required under the current permit that will be completed this year. Although this percentage remains to be determined by MDE, which issues these permits, they have publicly stated it is likely to be at least 10%.

A key concern is whether the County will adhere to its new green infrastructure policy, in which it made a commitment to meet at least 60% of its MS4 permit requirement using green infrastructure to manage stormwater. The policy also committed to evaluating the costs and multiple environmental social and economic benefits of these projects, compared with single-purpose gray infrastructure as a basis for project selection.

Many of these projects would be necessary regardless of permit obligations and can reduce the costs of maintaining gray infrastructure. For example, when stormwater erodes urban streams, it erodes and batters sewer pipes, causing Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs). By enabling water to infiltrate into soil, green infrastructure slows down runoff, and helps to protect gray infrastructure, as well as reduce flooding and provide many other well-known benefits associated with green spaces. As discussed at a Water Forum held last December, stormwater runoff from up-county watersheds, that enter the Potomac upstream from drinking water intakes, also increases the cost of water treatment, which is why WSSC is planning to spend $83 million on a mid-river submerged channel intake at the Potomac Water Filtration Plant, and an additional $157 million to upgrade the plant to handle the overloading of sediment. In other words, costs not paid through the Water Quality Protection Charge would just reappear on our water bills, in the form of higher costs to treat drinking water and maintain pipes.

Candidate responses can be viewed on the ANS blog. Some are more detailed than others and present some good ideas, that could be considered if there were an open and transparent review of the program and alternative approaches. Only three favor the Executive’s single contractor approach, with some modifications.

More background information on the issue can be found in this Maryland Sierra Club post, and letter to Executive Leggett from leaders of the stormwater Partners Network, representing the Potomac Conservancy, the Audubon Naturalist Society, Conservation Montgomery, Friends of Sligo Creek, the Montgomery Countryside Alliance and the Maryland Sierra Club.


Six Candidates of Good Temperament

It’s not easy to be a public official. It involves dealing with not only a lot of tough issues and often unappealing choices. It also entails listening to unhappy constituents who often express their feelings vehemently and with anger, especially in our current age when there is so much of the latter going around. And, of course, you have to deal with people like me.

As a result, I thought it would be good to highlight some candidates for office here in Montgomery County who I think have the right temperament for public office. This is wholly different from whether I agree with them on issues and as a result I don’t plan to vote for all of them (and I don’t live in all of their constituencies).

It does mean that they strike me as even-keeled people who will address issues thoughtfully and have a good capacity to listen to people and take on board the views of people with whom they disagree. In an election with a plethora of candidates, it seems worth identifying some who deserve a look-in to see if they are what you are seeking in a candidate.

One caution: Writing this blog gives me the opportunity to meet a good many candidates. In truth, however, it’s only a fraction of the many running for office and space is limited even on the Internet. So please don’t take omission from here as even the most oblique indictment. There are a lot of good people running for office. Here are just a few of them.

Aruna Miller is running to represent the Sixth Congressional District. The people who work closely with Aruna in the House of Delegates admire and respect her as a serious, hard-working legislator, and she has received the bulk of their endorsements. I only know Aruna so well but what I see only verifies these impressions. Del. Miller brought an unusual level of calm maturity and experience when she entered politics. Unafraid to stand up for principle, she can also reach out and work well with others.

Evan Glass is running for Council At-Large. I got to know Evan because we served on the Board of Equality Maryland together. He’s a great listener and excellent communicator, perhaps not a surprise given his extensive work in journalism. Evan also has the uncanny ability of knowing when and how an intervention in a political debate can have the greatest impact. He was one of the most quietly effective and useful members of the Board.

Marilyn Balcombe is running for Council At-Large. Marilyn is best known for her work in the Upcounty and on the President/CEO of the Gaithersburg/Germantown Chamber of Commerce. I’ve found Marilyn to be an effective and strong yet pleasant advocate. She has done a lot over the years to make Germantown a more vibrant place. Marilyn is someone who already knows a lot but also is smart enough to know that there is always more to learn and listens well.

Gabe Albornoz is running for Council At-Large. Gabe has headed the County Parks and Recreation Department and had the unpleasant task of dealing with major budget cuts due to the economic crisis. He lives in my legislative district and I got to know him through our mutual activity in local Democratic politics. Gabe is a natural leader yet also very easygoing and unusually good at dealing with criticism and bringing people together. A class act.

Hans Riemer is running for reelection to a third (and final) term for Council At-Large. I’m purposefully not focusing on incumbents on this list, as they’re already well known. However, I’ve always appreciated Hans’s ability to disagree without being disagreeable, even right after I’ve criticized a decision that he made. This well-liked councilmember has also consistently been willing to meet with people on the other side of an issue and work to figure out what he can do for them.

Marlin Jenkins is seeking election to the House of Delegates in District 19. He comes from a small town in Louisiana not far from where Ike Leggett grew up and is an impressive man who  worked very hard to create and to take advantage of  opportunities. Marlin joined the army at a young age, distinguished himself leading a unit in Iraq, and is now a major and still moving up. Along the way, he first earned a college and then law degree. He and his wife, also a lawyer who Marlin met in law school, have made their home here. An affable man and good listener, Marlin cares a lot about helping make it possible for others to move up the ladder too.


Sun Endorses Jealous

This morning, the Baltimore Sun endorsed Ben Jealous for governor:

Maryland voters deserve a real choice in November’s election for governor, and we believe Democrat Ben Jealous provides the clearest alternative to Gov. Larry Hogan. It’s not just that the former NAACP president and CEO has the stature or political skills to run a competitive campaign against the popular and extremely well funded Republican incumbent (though he does), it’s that he presents the strongest contrast to the governor in his vision for the state. We give him our endorsement in the Democratic primary.

Jealous is already doing well in the Baltimore region and this should only aid his efforts there.


Part II: Democrats Most Likely to Lose 1-2 Senate Seats

Part I looked at the relationship between Trump’s share of the vote and Democratic success in Virginia’s state house elections. Today, I look and see what the Virginia results indicate for Maryland Senate races.

Using a statistical technique called logit, I estimated the probability of Democratic victories in all 47 districts based on the relationship between the share of the vote won by Trump and election outcomes in Virginia.

I also controlled for the presence of Republican incumbents. The statistical model indicated that the relationship is not statistically significant, but the inclusion of this factor results in slightly lower probabilities of success in districts with GOP incumbents. (All Democratic incumbents won and represented seats Clinton won by 15 points, so I cannot similarly control for any advantage held by Democratic incumbents.)

The statistical model suggests that Democrats are most likely to lose 1 or 2 seats in the Senate. A more conservative estimate would be that the Democrats lose 0 to 3 seats. Even a loss of 3 seats would leave Democrats with more than enough to override a Hogan veto should he overcome tough political winds and win reelection.

Which seats are most likely to shift?

Most Vulnerable Democratic Seat

Sen. Jim Mathias defies political gravity in holding Eastern Shore District 38, which gave Trump 61% of the vote – a full 28 points higher than the share received by Clinton. But this former Ocean City Mayor earns it by out hustling his opponents in every way and is a born politician. He beat a delegate in 2014 and will likely face one-term Del. Mary Beth Carozza this year.

District 38 has three subdistricts so Carozza has represented just one-third of the district, including Mathias’s home in Ocean City. She has $114K in the bank compared to $250K for Mathias. Senate President Miller spent big to aid Mathias in 2014 and is prepared to do it again. Hogan and the Republicans have also promised to invest large sums, but the big question is whether Hogan will decide he needs to money for himself.

Despite in theory being a lock for Republicans, this race is a conundrum. Statistically. Mathias should be a dead duck. But the same was true in 2014. Why should Mathias now lose in 2018, expected to be a good Democratic year? Additionally, my model cannot control for any positive impact of Democratic incumbency. I rate it a toss-up.

Vulnerable Democrats?

Recall from Part I that seats that had the potential to go either way in Virginia fell into the range of giving Trump between 40.5% and 48.0% of the vote. Only five Maryland Senate seats fall into this range, all held by Democrats:

Individually, Democrats are likely to win each of the seats. None are particularly encouraging for Republicans. Collectively, the model indicates a 60% chance of losing one of these seats.

District 3: Frederick
As usual, Republicans plan on going after Sen. Ron Young in Frederick. Good luck with that. The model suggests he is a lock, and this ignores that Frederick has been trending Democratic or that Democrats thumped Republicans in last year’s City of Frederick elections to win control of the mayoralty and city council. Trump lost to Clinton by 8 points in this district. Not going to happen.

District 27: Anne Arundel, Calvert and Prince George’s
Similarly, taking down Senate President Mike Miller would be quite a prize for Republicans. The model gives Republicans a 1 percent shot in this district Trump lost by over 5 points. However, it’s virtually impossible to see how the always well-prepared Miller, the longest serving legislative leader in American history, goes down in territory he has won easily for decades.

District 30: Anne Arundel
The next three seats have Republicans salivating but the model indicates that they are underdogs in each. Sen. John Astle’s retirement from his Annapolis-based district, after losing the primary for city’s mayoralty, leaves a vacancy. Even so, Republicans have only a 14% shot at picking up this district.

Democrats are very pleased with their dynamic and politically experienced candidate, Sarah Elfreth. As in Frederick, Democrats gave Republicans a hiding in the 2017 Annapolis municipal elections. Former Del. Ron George has a clear path to the Republican nomination, as Del. Herb McMillan has given the race a pass. George ran for governor in 2014, losing Anne Arundel to Hogan in the primary by a 2-1 margin. However, George has a bank balance of $169K to $50K for Elfreth.

District 8: Baltimore
Republicans seem to think that they have a shot at taking out Sen. Kathy Klausmeier. The model indicates they have a 1 in 6 chance of victory but that doesn’t take into account any incumbency benefit held by Klausmeier. Their candidate, Del. Christian Miele, doesn’t seem too excited about his prospects, sensing that voter anger with Trump will dominate:

“It definitely gives you some heartburn as a Republican when you see what just happened,” said Republican Delegate Christian J. Miele, of Baltimore County, who is challenging Democratic state Sen. Katherine Klausmeier. “We’re all wondering if 2018 is going to be a continued referendum on the president.”

As Trump’s life goal is to be in the headlines, the answer seems clear. Miele has $87K in the bank compared to $194 for Klausmeier, who is well liked in her district but taking nothing for granted. There are rumors that Miele might just run for reelection for delegate.

District 42: Baltimore
Sen. Jim Brochin is retiring to run for county executive. The most conservative Democrat in the Senate, Brochin had both a tough primary and general last time around. The improved political climate suggests that Democrats have a 72% probability of holding the seat. Del. Chris West (42B) is running for the Republicans. Democrats have two candidates, Robbie Leonard and Gretchen Manavel. Sources tell me Leonard, a former county party chair, has the advantage with local activists but that Manavel has money and the energy – and would be a stronger candidate.

Not Vulnerable

District 32: Anne Arundel
Republicans think they have a good chance of picking up retiring moderate Sen. Ed DeGrange’s seat. Wrong. Clinton carried the district by 12 and it’s not going to happen barring a massive sea change in the political environment. Del. Pam Beidle is a very strong candidate and will win. Republicans are spinning their wheels here.

Vulnerable Republicans?

There are four seats where Democrats hope to play but will likely fall short.

District 9: Howard
Sen. Gail Bates is the most vulnerable Republican but still holds a seat Trump won by nearly 8. The Carroll County portion of her district will likely save her from going down to defeat, as Howard includes less favorable territory even if it is by far the more Republican portion of the county. Democrats have nevertheless recruited a strong candidate in Katie Hester ready to take advantage of any wave.

District 6: Baltimore
For Democrats, this was a real heartbreaker race in 2014 as Del. John Olszewski, Jr., known to one and all as Johnny O, lost by less than 3% to now Sen. Johnny Ray Salling. Democrats think that Salling didn’t so much win as became the accidental senator due to the hellacious political climate. Though Salling is seen as a lightweight who doesn’t work hard in office or at fundraising – he has just $30K in his campaign account – this was territory Trump carried by 15 points that shifted GOP across the board in 2014 and 2016.

Democrats have recruited a local activist and electrician, Bud Staigerwald, who fits the district well and is strongly backed by Comptroller Peter Franchot. Staigerwald lost a primary for Council District 7 in 2014.

District 34: Harford
Sen. Bob Cassilly represents the more Democratic turf in Harford but it’s still Republican and went for Trump by 11 points. Del. Mary-Dulany James, a strong and well-funded candidate, lost by 14.5% to now Sen. Bob Cassilly. Democrats think that they can take Casilly this time around but it will remain tough. Their ability to take advantage of opportunity will improve substantially if the locally deep-rooted James runs again.