Category Archives: 2018 Montgomery County Executive Race

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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Frick Attacks Opponents for Budget Shortfall

Montgomery County is facing a budget shortfall and across-the-board operating budget cuts of 2%–and warning that’s just a start. Del. Bill Frick is highlighting the cuts to go after his three opponents in the Democratic primary for county executive who have served for many years on the County Council:

It is time for new leadership in Rockville.  Our councilmembers ignored warnings from County Executive Leggett to restrain spending.  Despite an increase in the recordation tax, and a nearly 9% increase in property taxes, we find ourselves without sufficient revenues to pay for these councilmembers  pet projects, and, as a result, public services are being cut.  Our county deserves better.

The full press release and supporting documents are posted below.

Frick Press Release on MoCo Budget Shortfall by David Lublin on Scribd

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Gus Bauman Responds on David Blair

Gus Bauman, an attorney, is a former chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board and as candidate for county executive. He sent me the following response to yesterday’s post on David Blair’s first outing with the press as a candidate for county executive.

Concerning your fine Seventh State post of November 14 on David Blair entering the Montgomery County Executive race, I have one small, but telling, bone to pick with your otherwise piercing analysis of Mr. Blair’s candidacy. You call Mr. Blair a “politician.” But all that you wrote underscores how he is not—-and that, in my judgment and experience, is not a good thing.

Know that I have not decided who to support among the six Democratic candidates. Obviously, given the field, I am inclined to support some. As the leaders of the County well know, I have for years raised the alarm of the need for a business-friendly government if we are to have any chance of maintaining a healthy tax base for needed public services.

As for experience, I first became engaged in political campaigns by supporting and speaking for presidential candidate JFK in 1960. I have worked in Congressional and presidential campaigns, all for Democratic candidates. I have twice served in government in Montgomery County. Once, I was even persuaded by a sizable group of women to run for Montgomery County Executive at a time when this community fielded three solid Democratic candidates and three solid Republican candidates. And I have chaired Nancy Floreen’s campaign in all four of her At-Large races for County Council (having an excellent candidate and politician made my job immeasurably easier).

All of that is to say that aside from being a close student of history, I also have pertinent experience to speak to the point—the point being, one should be leery of a candidate lacking not only governmental and political experience but also involvement with community organizations, who suddenly wishes to lead an increasingly complex political jurisdiction of 1,000,000 souls. There are so many examples in our history of the point, but you only need look to the current occupant of the White House for one more example.

Mr. Blair is an accomplished person. I have no doubt he is also a well-meaning man. But when you need a brain surgeon to delve into a brain problem, you would be wise not to hire, say, an accomplished auto parts manufacturer. Or even a General Practitioner.

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David Blair’s Entry Raises More Questions Than Answers

Businessman David Blair became the sixth candidate to announce for county executive. However, beyond a willingness to open up his wallet (more on campaign finance below), there is little evidence that he is ready to run. Right now, this tech entrepreneur has no campaign website. (Correction: He does! It just doesn’t show up in the top Google searches yet.)

You May Have Questions. Does Blair Have Answers?

While it can be refreshing to see a politician who doesn’t claim to have all the answers, David Blair takes it a bit far. Based on his interview with Bethesda Beat’s Andrew Metcalf, he is neither ready nor willing to answer questions:

Asked if he’s always been a registered Democrat, Blair responded, “I believe so. I believe that’s a true statement.”

However, Maryland Board of Elections voter information indicates Blair was a registered Republican before he switched his registration to the Democratic Party in 2003.

Asked about that, Blair responded, “I don’t remember that. That could be accurate. … That could be.”

Blair refused to answer a question about taxes:

He declined to take a position on the County Council’s decision last year to raise property and recordation taxes.

“There will be a lot of opportunities to talk about specific policies,” Blair said.

And this was one of them.

He did seem ready with the political pablum:

“One of the ways to generate new revenue is through business,” Blair said. “We need more jobs here.”

“I have a vision to take Montgomery County to the next level.”

If Blair wants to enter the political arena, that’s great. But he needs to be ready to talk about issues when asked about them. I look forward not only to hearing more specifics but also more openness and willingness to answer questions from journalists and voters.

No on Public Financing. Will Empower Montgomery Launch an IE Campaign?

Unsurprisingly for someone from a very wealthy family, Blair said he will not participate in the public financing system. Bobby Lipman of MoCoVoters.org has already dinged him for this in the comments section of the Bethesda Beat article.

But why on earth would Blair want to waste his time asking people for small checks? Why would people want to give them to him? Why would he want to limit his spending when facing several better-known candidates?

More interesting from a campaign finance perspective is his decision to distance himself from Empower Montgomery:

When told he has been publicly referred to as a co-founder of the group, Blair said he contributed money.

“I would not consider myself a co-founder of that group, no,” Blair said.

Empower Montgomery’s website lists him as one of the founders of the group. . .

Empower Montgomery has now removed his name as one of the founders of the group.

If this pro-business group is planning an independent expenditure (IE) campaign on his behalf, Blair would not want to look like he is helping to direct it, as independent expenditures have to be independent to avoid legal troubles. And Empower Montgomery clearly plans to be active:

We are set up as a non-profit, tax exempt organization in Maryland, which allows us to perform a wide range of public education and advocacy activities and even participate in elections when key issues get elevated in the voter’s mindset.

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Floreen on Krasnow

I asked retiring Councilmember Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) – the first councilmember to endorse a candidate for county executive – why she has endorsed former Rockville Mayor and Deputy Planning Director Rose Krasnow for County Executive:

Rose is a remarkable person. I think she’s just what Montgomery County needs to move us forward. Consider her background. She started her life of activism at age 11 in Memphis during the civil rights movement, then protested the expressway through Overton Park (which ultimately resulted in a famous land use decision by the Supreme Court), worked in Wall Street, ran a homeowners’ association, moved into City of Rockville politics as councilperson then Mayor, and on to managing a branch of United Way, then on to Park and Planning.

Rose has great financial and managerial experience, knows the county through and through, and will bring a fresh leadership style to lead the county into the future. She’s tough and will call things as she sees them.

Plus, Rose has a terrific sense of humor and is a huge sports fan. Strong, knowledgeable, and independent. What’s not to like?

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Raise the Minimum Wage? Roger Berliner Answers

Seventh State is pleased to present Roger Berliner’s response to our question on the minimum wage.

Do you favor an increase in the Montgomery County minimum wage and, if so, by how much and on what timeline? Would you have any exemptions and, if so, for whom?  

I do favor increasing our county’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. I support the County Executive’s timeline, which would increase wages each year and reach $15 an hour by 2022 for larger businesses and 2024 for small businesses. I believe the County Executive’s time line best harmonizes the conflicting truths that are present in this debate: (1) too many people are working too hard for too little; and (2) if we raise wages too quickly, we will harm small businesses in our county, particularly minority-owned businesses, and this in turn will produce results that are exactly the opposite of what we want.

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