Category Archives: 2018 Montgomery County Executive Race

Setting the Record Straight: the Post Got it Wrong in their Anti-Elrich Editorial

The Washington Post sure has done a number on Marc Elrich.

In a second editorial endorsing David Blair for county executive, the Post quoted Elrich stating “I prefer to put jobs in Frederick” as proof that he “wants to focus employment elsewhere” – seemingly a damning charge against a candidate for Montgomery County executive.

Setting the Record Straight

The quote is taken from the Greater Greater Washington (GGW) blog post arguing that “Marc Elrich is not the right choice for Montgomery County Executive.”

Broadly, Elrich isn’t convinced Montgomery County needs to add many new homes or residents, or jobs. Many people with jobs in Bethesda or DC are now living in Frederick County and other outlying areas and driving through Montgomery to get to work. We asked Elrich what he’d do for these folks, and his answer was, “I prefer to put jobs in Frederick.” He’d encourage the growth of both households and jobs to happen there, and in Prince George’s County, and elsewhere.

I listened to the GGW interview with Elrich and the quote is taken out of context and utterly distorts the record. Marc makes clear that he wants economic growth, indeed that it is vital to the county’s future because our current budget trajectory is not sustainable into the future. If there is no money, he realizes that there will be no way to pay for efforts to do more to help people in poverty and others try to get a leg up.

So what did Marc Elrich mean when he said “I prefer to put jobs in Frederick”?

It was part of a much larger discussion of housing policy but the broader point was that it would be good to have jobs in many locales, including Frederick City, so the people up there don’t have to commute so far, which would also help alleviate traffic in Montgomery – an enormous concern – and help the environment.

He’d like to see more people have shorter commutes and more jobs near them around the region. That includes Montgomery, where many people suffer in traffic on the American Legion Bridge every day and probably would just assume not live their life stressing about whether traffic on the bridge is going to prevent them from picking the kids up. Moreover, the discussion was taking place in the context of the regional Council of Governments’ goal for housing and jobs around the region, which unsurprisingly includes plans for more of both in Frederick.

More broadly, Elrich doesn’t see economic activity as a zero-sum game where Frederick’s gain is necessarily Montgomery’s loss. Ironically, the Post has repeatedly lamented that DC, Maryland and Virginia didn’t come together on a bid for Amazon, an idea in the same vein, so I would have thought they’d appreciate this bow toward regional cooperation. The late Kevin Kamenetz didn’t bid for Amazon because he thought it belonged in Baltimore City and that Baltimore County would nevertheless benefit.

Both the Post and GGW have distorted the record. They clearly think Elrich is wrong for Montgomery County. But they shouldn’t twist his words out of all recognition to make their argument. It just undermines their case.

George Leventhal’s GGW Problem

Voters would find many of the ideas that GGW pushes hard in their interview far more shocking than Marc’s points. GGW’s version of “smart growth” doesn’t focus primarily on areas close to transit hubs and stations but promotes much higher density at almost any location with a bus line or they deem bikeable.

The heavily trafficked River Road Corridor is a prime example of where they’d like to see far more housing units built. They’d like to have seen far more density at Westbard, and to extend the Purple Line down the Capital Crescent Trail there. Previously, they’ve attacked the Kentlands as insufficiently dense, so their vision of “smart growth” is quite different from what many argue is good suburban development.

They also want Elrich to support allowing people to sell single-family homes to be torn down for high density buildings. Elrich sensibly pointed out that people who buy homes want some security in the neighborhood and that people who don’t want to move just end up next to a tall building with super high property taxes that they can’t pay. My guess is that GGW’s platform would not exactly get people to flock to their endorsed candidate, George Leventhal.

Most bizarrely, while smart growth advocates heavily pushed for more density around Metro and the Purple Line because there is no more room to build, GGW turns that on its head in its post inveighing against Elrich, claiming that he would open up far too little of the county to development. In my view, that’s not smart growth. It’s just development writ large.

Elrich’s Growth Agenda

Elrich’s promotion of a bus-rapid transit system for the county is probably the most pro-growth and pro-smart growth initiative launched in recent years, which makes GGW’s opposition all the stranger. My hope is that it would help start to break the Gordian knot of conflict between civic associations and developers by providing a real transit system for Montgomery that addresses transportation issues even as we grow.

GGW touts Leventhal as a proponent of “real” BRT because he wants it wholly in separate lanes, which would require more property takings, make it much more expensive, and therefore unlikely to happen. Marc argues sensibly for reversible BRT lanes, as there is no need for a separate lane going against rush hour traffic. That’s spending smart, something our government badly needs.

Just four years ago, I watched George Leventhal taking a passive aggressive negative approach towards Elrich’s BRT proposal without outright opposing it during a debate. He also lambasted now Council President Hans Riemer for the seemingly mild proposal to spend more on and improve Ride-On Bus service, an idea that David Blair now wants to put on steroids. I understand GGW applauds George for his staunch Purple Line support. But as on the minimum wage, he has been highly changeable on taking their transit vision into the future.

Conclusion

We have a lot of excellent candidates for county executive beyond  David Blair and Marc Elrich, including former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, Councilmember Roger Berliner and Del. Bill Frick. There are excellent cases for all of them and plenty of room to critique Elrich’s housing and other policies. I haven’t voted yet and am still looking closely at them. Let the debate continue but based on their actual records and positions.

Share

The Problem with the Post’s Blair Endorsement

The Washington Post took Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1), a candidate for county executive, to the proverbial woodshed for having the temerity to compare David Blair, their preferred candidate to Donald Trump.

That ship had already sailed when George Leventhal made the same comparison to another businessman candidate, David Trone, so it’s not exactly unexpected.

Where the comparison breaks down is that David Blair is by all accounts not a narcissistic, racist, sexist, congenitally lying bigot who enjoys publicly abusing people and acting inappropriately on the campaign trail in ways that demean himself and the office. Unlike Trump, Blair strikes me as very confident rather than supremely insecure and in need of constant reassurance. He also possesses the ability to listen and to take in new information.

The comparison nevertheless has some validity. Running a county government is vastly different from running a corporation, as many business executives who have entered public office have quickly discovered. While Blair thinks he can quickly build relationships with the new Council, it’s just not going to be that simple. They wouldn’t be his employees and may have completely different, even opposed goals. Victory with less than 40 percent in a Democratic primary is hardly likely to inspire deference.

Voters also have some reason not to trust the Washington Post’s judgement in this matter – not so much because of their centrist ideology but their track record. The apt comparison is not to Donald Trump but to the last time the Post wrote multiple editorials endorsing a local business outsider: Sharon Pratt Dixon.

In a series of avid, page long editorials the Post made the case for Dixon for mayor of the District of Columbia in 1990. At the time, the city was in crisis at the time with many governmental functions breaking down, people leaving the city, and Mayor Marion Barry under arrest on drug charges. (Throughout the campaign, a local program at 11:35 on weeknights called “Mayor Barry’s Day in Court” kept us depressingly up to date.)

The Post argued rightly that that the city needed someone who was more than just not Marion Barry but a proponent of major reform. They argued passionately, but it turned out wrongly, that Dixon was that person. Dixon was a wonderful speaker who articulated a great vision but showed no ability to carry it out after winning the Democratic primary with 34% of the vote.

Her failure led to her coming in third in the 1994 primary with just 13%. The winner was Marion Barry, a born pol, with 47%, leaving the District back where it started. It took Anthony Williams, who had experience as the city’s CFO, to lead the city a positive new direction and make changes that still matter a lot today.

So the Post may be right about Blair. If you like him and his ideas, that’s great. But don’t let the Post’s strong conviction in their choice sway you too much. The Post focuses very strongly on the District these days in their local coverage. Your knowledge of the local scene may well be better and your intuition about what Montgomery needs just as valid.

Share

On Marc Elrich and Socialism

After all this time, it still often ends up amazing me how much fracas a single turn of phrase can cause. Adam’s recent comment referring to Marc Elrich as “a decades-long socialist” has been one of those moments.

In many ways, I saw Adam’s description as  a stereotype of how many voters will see Marc. Adam has also argued with justification that it’s simply true. Moreover, while it’s tempting to say “labels are for cans,” they are also highly useful shortcuts in identifying political views and general outlook.

The problem here is the way the word “socialism” has been used in American politics. Back in the day of the Soviet Union, well within the lifespan of the bulk of Democratic primary voters, socialism was often used as a synonym for communism. The full name of the USSR, after all, was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Americans rightly reviled this soul-destroying system that murdered millions of people and was imposed on the peoples of Eastern and East-Central Europe after World War II.

However, as Nik Sushka explained on the Seventh State Facebook page:

There is a chasm of difference between the DSA and the way “socialism” is used against people on the left. If you like public schools, public safety, public libraries, public defense, and public transit—including public roads—then you like Democratic socialism so far. If you want public health care and public utilities—including net neutrality—you might desire greater “socialism.”

Can we at least try to have a fair conversation about why these distinctions exist and why a candidate trying to defend his record on supporting business and robust economies might say—hey, stop saying I have a “socialist” business agenda?

I disagree with Marc Elrich on various issues. The liquor monopoly needs to go and Adam isn’t wrong that it’s among the more “socialist” of county policies. But it was created before Marc arrived on the scene and is a legitimate topic for debate. Rent stabilization is also a bad idea, but Marc would be the first to tell you it’s not on Montgomery’s agenda.

Marc also holds many positions that I admire. While the Washington Post wants to cast him as Dr. No, he’s the guy who brought the creation of a BRT system for Montgomery to the agenda. Far more affordable than light rail or heavy rail – we would have saved literally billions of dollars if the Purple Line had been planned this way – it provides a real means to provide a transportation system for Montgomery. In other words, it addresses traffic concerns of existing residents yet also paves the way for additional development and economic growth.

Marc also is known as the guy on the Council who goes around to every neighborhood in the County and listens and talks to people. His argument that infrastructure for schools, police, fire, and so forth should match the pace of new development is seemingly radical to many on the current Council. It’s not to residents.

Ditto on the idea that one needs to be sensitive to the impact of new development on existing neighborhoods. Change will occur but it doesn’t have to mean placing a 20-story building right next to a single-family home in the name of “you can’t stop progress!”

In many ways, I saw Marc and Adam as talking past one another. Marc’s reply struck me as not a denial of being a democratic socialist but as being in the thoughtful vein of “OK, what does this term mean in this day and age, and for how I would govern as county executive” and that he’s practical rather than an ideologue.

Whatever you think of Marc’s views, I see remarkable consistency is the way he presents himself in various forums, questionnaires, and the like. What you see is what you get.

Share

The Not Marcs

Marc Elrich has cornered the progressive market in the county executive race. He has scooped up the lion’s share of endorsements from progressive groups and unions, and stands out as the most left-wing candidate in the race. Marc’s civic activism around the county has also won him a great many fans.

As Adam outlined yesterday, the challenge for the other candidates is to emerge as the alternative. Who is best positioned to do this?

Roger Berliner is probably the best County establishment candidate. After several terms on the Council, he has compiled a highly marketable record of leadership on environmental issues, especially for voters who are more concerned about climate change than economic equality. We’re a wealthy county, so even in a Democratic primary, there are lot of these voters.

Roger’s challenge is building a larger coalition is his record on business concerns. He has steered a middle course on these issues, which may be where many county voters are, but impedes him being a convincing champion of business or change. Roger is doing his best to make the case that he’s the person to lead on innovation and reinventing county government but it’s a hard sell for a multi-term councilmember.

George Leventhal’s comments on Facebook after the recent business forum reporting that he hears complaints about too much and too little growth from different people pretty much capture it all. Candidates simply cannot come across as annoyed with voters. What do those people want anyway?

Even more bizarre was George’s comment at the forum: “Democracy is not a spectator sport. If the business community wants to be heard, you have to speak to us.” Really? After 16 years on the Council, you have no idea what the business community thinks? They have lobbyists and are often highly engaged with the process. Politics is about addition, not subtraction.

Rose Krasnow has some clear strengths in the race. She’s the only female candidate in the #metoo election, though sometimes she sells it a little too hard. Her time as Mayor of Rockville, working on Wall Street, and as a senior staffer at the Planning Board allow her to make a very convincing case that she has the experience to lead the county in a new direction. The Planning Board is a great place to meet a lot of leaders around the county, especially in the not always popular but well-funded development community.

While Democrats are often not too keen on Wall Street, Rose’s real problem, ironically, is her identification with the Planning Board. It’s like flypaper for all the problems in the county and almost worse than being an incumbent when voters are in a mood to shake things up. Too much traffic? Too many portable classrooms? Blame the Planning Board. It may not always be fair (or unfair) but if you want fair, politics is the wrong line of work.

Businessman David Blair is certainly making a splash around the county. He’s already on TV and sending out mail, giving him profile among county voters as a sunny guy in a way that resembles David Trone’s last congressional bid. Empower Montgomery, which he helped found, seems ready to launch an independent expenditure campaign on his behalf.

If he spends enough, he could well become the not Marc. Of course, he’s going to have to compete with David Trone who will also be filling our airwaves. There is also the question of how many rich businessmen do Democrats want to elevate in the days of Trump. Still, I’ve heard positive feedback from some about his business plans, though his press interviews have at times demonstrated a lack of fluency with issues or government. Could this stall his campaign once he faces greater scrutiny?

Last but not least, Delegate Bill Frick is an interesting candidate. Although he’s an elected official, he is not associated with county government, so doesn’t carry their baggage. In short, he manages to combine appealing experience without the blame – a combo that worked rather well for former Rockville Mayor Doug Duncan. As someone widely seen as smart and a good, often passionate speaker, he ought to be an appealing candidate.

So far, however, his campaign has yet to catch fire. Insiders ding him for switching races but I seriously doubt voters know or care. He needs an issue and the county’s strongly disliked liquor monopoly looks like a good target notwithstanding the mud MCGEO has thrown at him. Frick needs convince voters, donors and opinion leaders opposed to Marc that he is best positioned to unite an alternative coalition to renovate county government. He has a good case.

Share

Krasnow Makes Baseless Sexism Charge Against Frick — And Then Acts Identically

In a radio interview, Del. Bill Frick made hard-charging remarks regarding former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow’s competing campaign for county executive.

“I had never heard her name before she announced as a candidate,” Frick, 43, said. “She hadn’t been in public life since the turn of the century. I really had not interacted with her. I’ve been a member of the legislature for 10 years and never encountered her.”

On the same radio show, Bill Frick also said:

“I’ve knocked on a lot of doors in Montgomery County and I’ve never heard someone say whoever’s in charge of the Planning Department should be in charge of the county,” Frick said. “That is not a sentiment I’ve ever heard.”

Krasnow replied by accusing Frick of being dismissive of her campaign and consequently sexist:

In a statement Krasnow sent to Sherwood that was shared with Bethesda Beat, she suggested, “Perhaps Mr. Frick’s dismissive remarks about me are a reflection of his attitude toward women.”

She elaborated during an interview Monday with Bethesda Beat. “I assume his comment about the turn of the century was trying to make me look old,” added Krasnow, 66. “I was in office until the end of ’01. It means I wasn’t an elected official yesterday, that’s definitely true … .”

Even if one believes that it’s okay for Krasnow to refer frequently to her service as Rockville’s mayor and not for Frick to point out it was some years ago, making her look old would be ageism, not sexism. Ironically, after accusing Frick of sexism, Krasnow then engaged in the exact same dismissive behavior and topped it off with a false claim:

“I, like many other people, had not heard of Bill Frick until I got into this race,” Krasnow said of Frick, who has served as the delegate from Bethesda-based District 16 since first being selected by the county’s Democratic Central Committee to replace Marilyn Goldwater in 2007. Last year, he was appointed House majority leader.

She noted she learned more about him from a 2007 blog post titled Who The Frick is Bill. “So I wouldn’t start talking about name recognition. I believe mine is much higher than his,” she said. “He has represented a fairly small district in Bethesda while I represented the entire city of Rockville.”

Frick is one of three delegates who represent District 16, which encompasses an area with a population of about 120,000 residents, while Rockville’s population is about 62,000.

While I am sure Adam Pagnucco Kevin Gillogly is flattered by the reference to his blog post, behaving as if there is one rule for male candidates and another for female candidates is the very definition of sexism. On Monday, Frick responded by describing Krasnow’s allegation as “ridiculous and baseless.”

“I think that’s out of line,” Frick said. “I’ve been a feminist since I was old enough to pronounce the word. I have a 100 percent voting record and have been a strong leader on women’s issues.”

Krasnow could have taken other more effective approaches in her response to Frick. For example, she could have instead pointed out that she is the only candidate with senior executive experience in the public sector – not just as mayor but at the Planning Board – and thus turned the biased idea that men are better executives on its head without even mentioning gender.

She also could have just stuck with the calm, thoughtful claim that voters don’t really know any of the candidates well and she hoped that voters had the opportunities to learn about her through the campaign. She started off with that approach – one that would have made her look experienced and judicious – but then shifted to the weak-beer sexism allegation.

As has been rightly discussed much of late, sexism is alive and well with the spotlight revealing male employers using their positions to behave inappropriately, unprofessionally, and worse towards their female employees. Unfortunately, Krasnow’s accusation attracts attention for the wrong reasons.

Share

Elrich, Krasnow & Leventhal Mix It Up on Racial Equity & Purple Line

The recent county executive debate was fascinating if only for the incoherence brought to it regarding the Purple Line:

Rose Krasnow, deputy director of the county’s planning department and former Democratic Rockville mayor, said the Purple Line “will have wonderful benefits for people along its length. It will raise property values, but it will spur development,” she said. . . .

After Elrich expressed his concern about gentrification that could follow the path of the Purple Line, Leventhal spoke about the benefits the line would bring immigrant workers.

“We should stop frightening people about it, as Mr. Elrich has repeatedly done,” Leventhal said.

“I never said the word ‘destroy’ about the Purple Line,” Elrich responded, noting that his opposition to some of the plans resulted in changes that will preserve hundreds of affordable housing units.

Purple Line advocates have long argued that it will spur new development around Purple Line stations. Indeed, although Metro stops have not resulted in urban nodes similar to Bethesda or Silver Spring near any station in Prince George’s, proponents have faith that the slower moving light-rail Purple Line will nevertheless make it happen.

If they’re correct, the Purple Line will, as Rose Krasnow points out, result in more development and higher property taxes. More generally, if land near Purple Line stations becomes more desirable, its value will increase and so will taxes on it. Generating more tax revenue was a major rationale for the Purple Line.

If a place becomes more desirable and tax rates increase, the cost of renting or buying housing near Purple Line stops will rise and some current residents will find it harder to afford housing. Developers and landlords obviously prefer higher rents — and the Purple Line’s goal is to stimulate investments that will allow them to charge more.

As a result, current residents will gradually be forced out. It can occur when a property is wholly redeveloped so that higher prices can be charged. Alternatively, greater demand will allow landlords to raise rents and sellers to charge more. People who worked hard to buy homes there will gain.

This is not a side effect of the Purple Line. It is the intent of the Purple Line. Indeed, the more successful the Purple Line is achieving economic development, the more it will occur. Notwithstanding all of the social justice blandishments, there is only so much counties can do to stop it.

Nor do they want to do so because they want the tax revenue and it’s the nature of the market. When areas become more desirable, prices rise. This is not meant as an attack on people who leave as abandoning the neighborhood or on people who move in as insensitive gentrification agents. It is simply how the market works.

George Leventhal says “We should stop frightening people about it.” But, as the debate highlighted, change will occur. To the extent that the Purple Line is a transportation boon, and billions are going to be  invested towards that end, it will raise prices and drive current residents out, as it has in Bethesda and increasingly in Silver Spring.

There are a variety of policies one can do to increase the availability of affordable housing more generally. But the Purple Line is not one of them. Marc Elrich, an advocate of the Purple Line and more aggressive efforts to preserve affordable housing near Purple Line stops, explained his view in more detail in a blast email yesterday:

To zero in on an important case that came up at the forum, county officials have too often proposed zoning changes that would displace low-income communities of color. In 2012 and 2013, a Long Branch sector plan that included the upzoning of a very large swath of existing affordable multi-family housing – housing occupied largely by Long Branch’s low-income immigrant community – was brought before the County Council. The plan’s architects intended to tie construction of the Purple Line to new, much more expensive housing developments that would replace the existing affordable housing in that area. Even if 15% of the new units were “MPDUs” (moderately priced dwelling units), which was the best-case scenario, there would have been fewer total affordable housing units available in Long Branch if this plan had been implemented – in other words, less available lower-priced housing for people who need it.

Many of the families living in the existing affordable multi-family homes would not have qualified to live in MPDUs. Some had more family members than most MPDUs would have been able to hold (the proposed plan did not require developers to provide family-sized units). Some families had incomes too low or credit histories too short to qualify. For others, legal status would have been their chief barrier. In addition, the county did not have the resources to provide long-term rental assistance on the scale that would have been required in Long Branch.

In other words, under the Planning Board’s proposal, the current low-income immigrants in Long Branch would have been forced to relocate elsewhere. Since the existing buildings weren’t even an impediment to building the Purple Line, the Planning Board’s recommendations were particularly ill-advised.

When I met with planning staff and their director at the Long Branch shopping center, I told them – forcefully – that their plan was unacceptable.

I am happy to note that, within a week of my meeting, the proposal to rezone the particular properties I had questioned was withdrawn. I was also able to get results when the same process unfolded in two more sector plans and a proposal from the Planning Board to do a mini master plan. But these plans should never have been proposed in the first place. I am convinced they never would have been if we had a racial equity lens in place and were required to show the impacts such plans would have had on the surrounding communities of color.

I’ve been the consistent voice on the County Council speaking out on these issues because I know what the consequences will be if we fail to preserve our existing affordable housing. And as your next County Executive, I would like to make the consideration of racial equity the expectation in all of our policymaking, rather than the exception to the rule.

Put another way, the question is essentially how much power is  county government willing to exercise over developers both in terms of what they can do and what they have to pay. However, it’s also a question of how much tax revenue the county is willing to sacrifice. Happy talk is not the same as action or making the best of not-so-easy choices.

Share

SEIU Janitorial Local Endorses Elrich

This may be the first in a wave of labor organizations to endorse Marc Elrich. While not shocking, it provides further evidence that Elrich continues to lock down labor support. Here is the Elrich campaign press release:

32BJ SEIU Endorses Marc Elrich for Montgomery County Executive

SILVER SPRING, Md._ On January 22, 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced their endorsement of Marc Elrich for Montgomery County Executive. 32BJ represents 18,000 members in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, including office cleaners who work throughout Montgomery County, and is a major force in area politics. They are the first union to announce an endorsement in the County Executive race.

Elrich has stood with unions in their efforts to secure fairer workplaces for decades. During his tenure on the Montgomery County Council, he has fought for paid sick and family leave, various safeguards against worker exploitation, and two minimum wage increases. He orchestrated the unanimous vote in favor of the recently passed bill that will gradually raise the county’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“I have been proud to champion issues of economic justice and would look forward to partnering with 32BJ and other unions as the next County Executive,” Elrich said. “I have enjoyed working with them already to strengthen worker rights and have great respect for the role they’ve played in advancing our shared vision of how to build a more just society. We face many challenges as a county, and it is only through collaboration with 32BJ members and other workers who see those challenges every day that we will figure out the best way to meet them.”

Marc Elrich has been an at-large Montgomery County Councilmember since 2006. He chairs the Public Safety Committee, serves on the Education Committee, and is the County Council’s representative to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation Planning Board. Prior to his election to the County Council, he served on the Takoma Park City Council for 19 years and taught at Rolling Terrace Elementary School for 17 years. For more information, see www.marcelrich.org.

Media Contact:
Ben Spielberg, Campaign Manager
Ben@marcelrich.org
609-828-3783

Share

Blair Doesn’t Know, Krasnow Plans, and Frick Just Says No

Thanks to Bethesda Beat for their illuminating coverage of the Realtors Forum for county executive candidates.

We’ve Got Questions, He Still Doesn’t Have Answers

When David Blair announced his candidacy, he refused to take a position on the county recordation tax hike, saying “There will be a lot of opportunities to talk about specific policies.” After much rumination, his refusal has evolved into waffling:

David Blair, was less definitive in his answer.

Blair said he would’ve combed the county budget for savings before resorting to raising the recordation tax. When pressed about whether he would’ve voted yes or no on a tax increase, Blair acknowledged that the county in 2016 was “in a really particular jam” in light of the education infrastructure needs.

“I believe I would’ve been able to find those savings,” he said. “If I couldn’t have found the savings, presumably we would’ve had to raise the recordation tax.”

He said he’d like to roll back the tax increase, if he can find budget savings to replace the lost revenue.

In short, Blair continues to do his best to prove Gus Bauman correct in his claim that Blair lacks enough political knowledge and experience for the job of county executive.

Too Much Time in the Planning Department?

Former Rockville Mayor and Planning Department Deputy Director Rose Krasnow has some interesting housing advice for millennials:

Candidates also were asked where they’d advise a young couple making about $100,000 annually to live in the county.

Krasnow said she’d probably tell the hypothetical couple to explore renting an apartment that’s an accessory to a single-family home. . .

Somehow, I don’t think “Move to Montgomery County, so you can live above your parents’ garage” is a winning slogan. In articulating the latest fad among planners, Krasnow inadvertently captured the nervous national zeitgeist of expectations of a lower quality of life than previous generations.

Allowing more accessory apartments into existing neighborhoods is a popular idea at the Planning Department. Existing neighborhoods wonder why plans for parking or additional infrastructure to accommodate new residents never accompany these proposals.

Frick Opposes Recordation Tax Increase

Alone among Democrats, Del. Bill Frick came out strongly against the tax hike in a county known nationally for its unusually high taxes related to buying and selling property:

“I think the recordation tax increase was a mistake,” he said. “And frankly, I’m sorry you were put through what you were put through.”

Frick said unequivocally that he’d seek to reverse the hike, if elected, and would lobby for more state funding to address school construction challenges.

This stance sets Frick noticeably apart from candidates like Roger Berliner, David Blair and Rose Krasnow who are also trying to position themselves as pro-change, pro-growth and pro-business candidates.

While the other candidates either waffled (Blair) or favored the increase as necessary for school construction (everyone else), Frick took a definitive public stance against it. Frick’s willingness to stand out on this and other issues looks smart in a field with many candidates that voters have trouble sorting out.

I don’t know if Bill won any new friends at the forum but he should have for (1) taking a stance the crowd supports, (2) even though the stance will be unpopular with other Democratic constituencies, and (3) his willingness to be clearcut about it.

Share

CASA Endorses Elrich for Exec

From the press release issued jointly by CASA and the Elrich campaign:

SILVER SPRING, Md._ On December 21, CASA in Action announced its endorsement of Marc Elrich for Montgomery County Executive. CASA, a 96,000+ member immigrant advocacy organization, is the first civil rights group to weigh in on the county’s 2018 primary election.

“I am deeply honored to have the support of the CASA in Action community,” Marc Elrich said. “CASA in Action has been a leader on immigrant rights and economic justice issues and I have been humbled to have had the chance to work with them to move people to citizenship and achieve economic security for their families.”

In a crowded race, the CASA in Action board decided to endorse Elrich because of his outstanding commitment to immigrants and workers both during his time on the Takoma Park City Council and the Montgomery County Council. In the early 1990s, Elrich supported the establishment of the first day-laborer center in Takoma Park. He also strengthened Takoma Park’s rent stabilization law and directed city funding to community organizing efforts. Since Elrich has been on the County Council, he has taken leadership with CASA in Action members to pass legislation protecting domestic workers, improve legal protections for tenants, push back against master plans that eliminated existing affordable housing, and, most recently, raise Montgomery County’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“Time and again, Marc Elrich has stood shoulder to shoulder with our members to fight for a county where children can achieve, families can strive, and immigrants are woven into the fabric of every community,” said Gustavo Torres, President of CASA in Action.

During an election cycle that will bring vast change to leadership in the county, the CASA in Action board was able to consider many strong candidates, some whom – like Councilmember George Leventhal and Delegate Bill Frick – have long stood up for immigrant rights in their current roles.

“Elections require us to make choices about the communities we want to live in. This one comes at a time when the contrast between the lives of Montgomery County’s haves and have-nots could not be more stark,” said Mr. Torres. “Marc Elrich knows that a more equitable world is possible and is committed to make the necessary changes to achieve it.”

Share