Category Archives: Council At-Large

Public Financing Geography, Part Five

By Adam Pagnucco.

We conclude with the remaining five Council At-Large candidates who have qualified for matching funds in public financing.

Chris Wilhelm

Wilhelm, an MCPS teacher, is becoming a progressive darling of the Council At-Large race with endorsements from MCEA, the Laborers, Progressive Maryland and the Democratic Socialists.  His contributions are heavily tilted towards the very liberal areas of Downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park.  The question for Wilhelm is whether he can hang with the other strong competitors going for those same votes, especially Hans Riemer, Evan Glass, Will Jawando, Danielle Meitiv and Seth Grimes and find a way to break into the top four.  Wilhelm is a smart and passionate campaigner so don’t count him out.

Will Jawando

Jawando is the leading fundraiser in Silver Spring East County, which we define as zip codes 20903, 20904 and 20905.  This area overlaps with the section of District 20 in which he performed best in his 2014 race for Delegate.  Jawando has put together a long list of institutional endorsements that exceeds even the race’s sole incumbent, Hans Riemer, and includes the Apple Ballot.  (He was also endorsed by the Laborers Union shortly after we published the latest list.)  Now Jawando has to raise enough money to get the word out and finish the job.  If he does, he will become just the second Council Member of color to win an At-Large seat after Ike Leggett left in 2002.

Danielle Meitiv

Meitiv, the famous Free Range Mom, is so far the only female at-large candidate who has qualified for public matching funds.  (Shruti Bhatnagar came close but has been ruled ineligible by the State Board of Elections.  Brandy Brooks says she has enough contributions to qualify but has not yet filed with the state.)  Meitiv’s contribution geography resembles the all-candidate average and is largely based in the Democratic Crescent that is so critical to winning countywide elections.  If she continues to raise money, her status as one of the few competitive at-large women will help her in a primary electorate that is nearly 60% female.

Mohammad Siddique

The good news is that Siddique is the second-leading fundraiser in Gaithersburg ($5,515) after George Leventhal ($6,808).  The bad news is that he has a minimal presence in Democratic Crescent areas like Chevy Chase, Downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park that are critical to countywide performance.

Seth Grimes

Grimes, a former Takoma Park City Council Member, has collected a majority of his contributions from the city with relatively little money coming from elsewhere in the county.  Takoma Park is not a big enough base from which to win a countywide election by itself.  Grimes needs to pick it up elsewhere to have a chance for victory.


Public Financing Geography, Part Four

By Adam Pagnucco.

Let’s start looking at the Council At-Large candidates who have qualified for public matching funds.

Hans Riemer

Riemer, who is finishing his second term, is the only incumbent in the at-large race.  His contributions are heavily based in Downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda, the twin poles of Democratic Downcounty politics.  He is weaker in places like Rockville and Upcounty.  Riemer’s fundraising reflects his smart growth, urban-focused brand and fits the Democratic Crescent nicely.  Our hunch is that he will finish first in both Bethesda and Silver Spring en route to his third term in office.  (Disclosure: the author was once employed by Riemer.)

Bill Conway

Here is an amazing fact: in a public financing system that includes multi-term incumbents like Riemer, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, first-time candidate Bill Conway is the number one fundraiser in both Potomac and Chevy Chase.  He has also done well in Bethesda.  Conway could use more exposure in Silver Spring.  If he gets that, he could combine a top two or three performance in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac with a smattering of votes in other areas and get a ticket to the County Council.

Evan Glass

Second-time candidate Evan Glass, who almost won the District 5 seat four years ago, has a decade-long history of civic leadership in Downtown Silver Spring which is reflected in his fundraising.  Glass has raised almost as much money there ($18,573) as has Marc Elrich ($20,763).  Glass needs to grow his base, with the logical targets being other areas in District 5 like East County Silver Spring, Burtonsville, Takoma Park and Forest Glen as well as western parts of the Crescent.  As it is, he has a good shot to win.

Hoan Dang

Dang is also a second-time candidate, having finished fifth of six candidates in the 2010 District 19 Delegate race despite doing a good job in fundraising.  Dang has done pretty well in public financing but he is not dominating anywhere and has not shown a lot of strength in the Crescent.  He could use some institutional backing and more support in places like Bethesda and Downtown Silver Spring to increase his chances of victory.

Gabe Albornoz

County Recreation Department Director Gabe Albornoz is by far the leading fundraiser in Kensington, where he has a large base of family and friends.  Other than that, he is not among the fundraising leaders in any of the county’s Democratic strongholds.  Albornoz has three useful networks: his professional network from his day job, the contacts he has accumulated during his service on the county’s Democratic Central Committee and the supporters of County Executive Ike Leggett, who has endorsed him.  Albornoz needs to continue to monetize those networks and get a couple key endorsements, like the Washington Post.  If he can do that, he has a path to victory.

We will finish looking at the Council At-Large qualifiers tomorrow.


Where Are the Voters?

By Adam Pagnucco.

With six Democratic candidates for County Executive and over thirty Democrats running for Council At-Large, the hunt is on for MoCo primary voters.  Luckily for the candidates, we are here to point the way!

Let’s start by looking at population.  Residents are not distributed evenly across the county.  The neighborhoods closest to the D.C. border and close to urban centers are more dense than Upcounty areas.  Below we show population estimates by local area for the years 2012-2016 from the U.S. Census Bureau.  Local areas are grouped by zip codes.  For example, data for Rockville does not refer to the municipality itself, but to the four zip codes that comprise Rockville (20850, 20851, 20852 and 20853).  Because Silver Spring is such a large part of the county, we broke it into four pieces: Downtown (zip codes 20901 and 20910), Wheaton (20902), Glenmont/Norbeck (20906) and Silver Spring East County (20903, 20904 and 20905).

And so the population concentrations are where one might expect: Downcounty and near urban centers like Rockville and Gaithersburg.  But that’s not the end of the story.  Our elections are decided by closed Democratic primaries.  For state legislative and county offices, the general elections have not been relevant since 2006, when the last two Republican elected officials (County Council Member Howie Denis and Delegate Jean Cryor) were defeated.  And Democrats are distributed differently around the county than all residents.

Right after the last cycle ended, we obtained a January 2015 version of the voter file from the county’s Board of Elections and spliced it with Census data to model local elections.  The number of registered Democrats in MoCo has risen by 5% in the last three years so, for the purpose of looking at geographic patterns, our existing voter model is not exact but is not too far off.  Below is a comparison of population by local area from 2012-2016 and the number of registered Democrats from January 2015.

There are large differences in Democratic density (the percentage of residents who are registered Democrats) between MoCo’s local areas.  In five local areas – Cabin John, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Bethesda and Silver Spring Downtown – more than 40% of residents are registered Democrats.  And in seven local areas – Dickerson, Poolesville, Damascus, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Boyds and Clarksburg – less than 30% of residents are registered Democrats.

Now let’s fine-tune this even further.  The chart below compares population by local area from 2012-2016 to the number of Super Democrats, whom we define as having voted in all three of the 2006, 2010 and 2014 primaries, in January 2015.  This Super Dem number has probably fallen slightly as a few folks who voted in those primaries have left the county or passed away, but the broad pattern will still hold.

Again, there are large differences in Super Democrat density (the percentage of residents who are Super Dems) between local areas.  In six areas – Cabin John, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Bethesda, Silver Spring Downtown and Takoma Park – at least 5% of residents are Super Dems.  In seven areas – Poolesville, Montgomery Village, Gaithersburg, Damascus, Germantown, Boyds and Clarksburg – less than 3% of residents are Super Dems.

Here’s the bottom line – countywide elections are decided in large part by voters in a Democratic Crescent stretching from Takoma Park in the east through Downtown Silver Spring, Kensington and Chevy Chase to Bethesda and Cabin John in the west.  These areas roughly trace the neighborhoods around the Beltway and between the Beltway and D.C.  They are the parts of the county that sent Jamie Raskin to Congress.  Together, the six areas in the Democratic Crescent have 23% of the county’s population, 29% of the registered Democrats and 37% of the Super Dems.  Every countywide candidate is going to want to play there.

Does that mean that a candidate whose chief appeal is outside the Democratic Crescent is doomed to fail?  Not necessarily.  Crescent voters have MANY suitors as most of the Executive and Council At-Large candidates come from those areas and will be aggressively pursuing votes there.  Council Member Nancy Floreen, who is a former Mayor and current resident of Garrett Park, won four straight at-large elections by combining women, moderates and Upcounty voters and her 2014 second-place finish was her best ever.  This model is no doubt being studied by County Executive candidate and former Mayor of Rockville Rose Krasnow and Council At-Large candidate and Germantown resident Marilyn Balcombe, both of whom Floreen has endorsed.

One more thing.  Some Upcounty activists have long complained of the influence of Downcounty on county government decision making.  Your author did not witness geographic parochialism on the part of any At-Large Council Members, all of whom come from Downcounty, during the time I was employed at the council.  But to the extent that Downcounty does exercise disproportionate influence, it’s because those residents turn out in Democratic primaries to a much greater extent than people who live Upcounty.  As long as primaries remain closed to party members, that will continue to be the case in any countywide elections regardless of structural changes in county government.  If you are an Upcounty resident and you don’t like that, the best remedy is to get your neighbors to vote in the primary.

Downcounty’s influence is only likely to grow because of one new factor in county politics: the implementation of public financing.  As we shall see, a large percentage of contributions to publicly financed candidates is coming from localities in the Democratic Crescent we described above.  That information will be published in the near future.  Stay tuned to Seventh State!


Candidates Ask Supporters to Stuff Online Poll

By Adam Pagnucco.

Back in the days of Maryland Politics Watch, we would occasionally set up online polls for various races.  The polls had no validity, of course.  They could not screen for registered voters, much less those in a particular party or county, and even those that limited each IP address to one vote could be easily gamed through multiple devices and masking software.

But we did it anyway for two reasons.  First, we were greatly entertained by the thought of frenzied candidates snapping the whip over armies of interns and yelling, “Vote faster!  You’re not pushing the vote button fast enough!!”  And second, they got lots of eyeballs, or at least apparent eyeballs.  Your author once scrutinized the traffic coming into one of our better performing online polls and discovered that most of it was coming from a handful of IP addresses.

Eventually, we stopped.  The “polls” added no value to the readers’ understanding of the elections.  And they also turned into a huge waste of time for candidates.  After we posted yet another online poll in 2010, one candidate emailed and said, “I really hate these things.  I have to drop everything and start voting!”  We took that comment to heart.  From that point on, your author determined that it was only worth doing a poll if we could invest it with some kind of methodological validity.  That’s easier said than done with an online poll!

That has not stopped others.  On Wednesday, Bethesda Magazine did an online poll on the Council At-Large race, which it admitted was “not scientific,” with SurveyMaker.  The poll began making the rounds on Facebook and one political insider sent it to your author, breathlessly panting, “Unscientific, but very surprising!”  Then a complete unknown, Steve Solomon, took the lead spot and folks started to understand just how unscientific this poll was.

Solomon’s “win” was not an accident.  He is a sports radio host and he encouraged his listeners to vote for him on both radio and Twitter.

Solomon was not alone.  Neil Greenberger sent out a blast email asking his supporters to stuff the poll.  He told his list that while the poll was unscientific, “It is better to be vaulting in this poll than to be lingering.”  He even said, “You don’t have to be a registered voter or live in Montgomery County vote in this poll. Just let them know who you would like to see come out ahead in the June 26 Democratic primary.”

Now look.  We do not absolutely deplore all online polls.  They can be fun and buzzy, and if folks want to push buttons for kicks, that’s fine.  But it’s absolute cross-eyed tomfoolery to see them as containing any merit.  Candidates, listen up.  If you spend your time pumping worthless ca-ca like this instead of phone banking, door-knocking and raising money, your chances of winning will be about as high as the coyote’s chances of catching the road runner.  Now get back to work!


A Quick Note on Candidates

By Adam Pagnucco.

A few interesting things popped up in candidate filings today.

Krish Vignarajah has still not filed for Governor.  Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has filed, but his announced running mate, former Montgomery County Council Member Valerie Ervin, is not listed on his filing.

Grace Rivera-Oven, who was the Political Director of David Trone’s campaign for Congress, filed to run for Council At-Large on February 26.  She has started a traditional campaign finance account.

Jarrett Smith, who is a current member of the Takoma Park City Council, filed to run for Council At-Large on February 23.  Smith was reelected to the City Council in November and will not have to leave his seat to campaign for county office.  Smith has started a traditional financing account.

Kenge Malikidogo-Fludd has filed for County Council District 5.  Bethesda Magazine previously reported that Kevin Harris is running against incumbent Tom Hucker.  Malikidogo-Fludd is using public financing, as is Harris, while Hucker has not yet opened a public financing account.  However, Malikidogo-Fludd’s listed address is in Germantown, which is not in District 5.

Jaye Espy, who was running for Delegate in District 15, withdrew from the race on February 21.

Michelle Carhart of Rockville filed for District 18 Senate on February 22.  Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher and Dana Beyer, who has run for Senate and House unsuccessfully in the past, are also running.  Carhart’s website is inactive at this writing.

Filing closes at 9 PM tomorrow night.  There may be more news in store by then!

Note: an earlier version of this post reported that Jarrett Smith had not yet established a campaign account.  We apologize for the error.


Jill Ortman-Fouse Announces for Council At-Large

By Adam Pagnucco.

Board of Education Member Jill Ortman-Fouse just announced on Facebook that she will be running for Council At-Large.  This comes eleven days after she said she would be running for reelection to the school board.  We will have more to say about this and other events in the Council At-Large race, but for now, we reprint Ortman-Fouse’s Facebook post below.


Black men make up 2% of the nation’s educators in our schools. John Robertson is one of those role models who would like to make a bigger difference as your at-large Board of Education member. As you might recall, that’s my seat. 😉

I’m going to try not to give you whiplash from my candidacy for board announcement last week, but here it goes:

I really appreciated all the amazing responses to my announcement — from educators, students, parents, neighbors and community members. You all are wonderful and I’m extremely blessed to know you.

Then I heard that someone had jumped in my race. Nervously, my whole family set about searching to see who he was.

We found his graduation speech. I read it and I thought, wow. Another search revealed he had a masters in social work. I literally talk about MSWs’ skills in terms of the mental health challenges we are facing in our schools all the time. As you know, our students’ (and their family’s) mental health needs, have been a priority for me. Then I texted some folks to see who might know him. He was described as “smart, mature, innovative.”

My friends said I could beat him. Incumbents always have an advantage — especially in a county of over 1 million people where getting your name out is hard. Then I’d text them the links, and they would agree with me, that he sounds amazing.

So, Mr. Robertson and I had coffee. I went down my list of biggest concerns and things I’m passionate about for our students, staff and school system. We are clearly on the same page. I’m going to step out of the race because I’m confident John would be a great addition to the team, and I can’t wait for you to learn more about him.

What next? Well, one of the things I get in trouble for is working outside my approved lane of education policy — because I care as passionately about the issues that impact our kids and families outside of our schools as the ones inside. So, why not try making it official as a member of our County Council? I realize others have made the suggestion along the way (which I appreciated) and in a much timelier fashion. 😉 But I didn’t want to leave the work unsupported.

I know there are about 30 candidates running for four at-large seats. I know I haven’t even started to raise money for a campaign. I know some organizations have already endorsed, and other candidates have been campaigning for almost a year.

But I also know that we have made a difference together, and I would like to continue to work with our community and our leaders at the county and state level to make our collective vision a reality. I would bring everything you have counted on in my work on the board to the council. I certainly would understand if members of our community were disappointed. I know how valuable your partnership is, but I think we could actually have an even bigger impact together on the council.

I would bring the education focus and knowledge of where the gaps are to continue to advocate for our schools. I would continue to be a strong voice for transparency, accountability and responsiveness, to ensure our county resources are used most efficiently and effectively. And I would bring my experience as an elected leader representing your interests, my desire to listen closely to different voices and respect them — even when I disagree, working as hard as I can for our community to win together, to the council role if I were so fortunate to win that position.

I am going to need 250 contributions of $150 or less, totalling $20,000 in about 75 days to qualify for public financing. I know it’s a very steep climb. But I’m an eternal optimist, and my friends who have volunteered to help are amazing. So, stay tuned…

I know I made you scroll twice. That’s my thing.


Campaign Finance Reports: Council At-Large, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Now to the swarming Council At-Large race, a fascinating contest with a cast of candidates exceeding the population of several small island nations.  In accordance with our prior post on the Executive candidates, let’s review our methodology.  First, we calculate total raised and total spent across the entire cycle and not just over the course of one report period.  Many candidates, particularly in other races we will discuss, have been campaigning for more than a year and we want to capture that.  Second, we separate self-funding from funds raised from others.  Self-funding includes money from spouses.  Total raised does not include in-kind contributions.  Third, for self-financed candidates, we include public matching fund distributions that have been requested but not deposited in raised money and in cash on hand (which we call adjusted cash balance).  That gives you a better idea of the true financial position of publicly financed campaigns.

And now, on to the financial presentation.  (We hope this graphic can fit on your screen.)  Two candidates – Brandy Brooks and Darwin Romero – have not filed reports at this writing.

Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39) is a big winner here with the largest cash on hand in the race.  He has used his unique perch as the House’s point man on liquor issues to raise large amounts of money, adding to a war chest he has been accumulating for twenty years.  But the last time Barkley had a competitive election, Facebook did not exist and black and white mailers were still in use.  This is a big field full of hungry candidates and Barkley needs to do more than raise alcohol money to win.

Council Member Hans Riemer, the only incumbent in the race, continues to excel.  He has the highest amount raised ($219,103) and a low burn rate of 11%.  Add to that his two terms in office, his experience running countywide, his history of influential endorsements and his campaign skills and he looks like a safe bet to return.

Bill Conway has gone from being Diana Conway’s husband to being perhaps the one non-incumbent candidate that his rivals say is most likely to win.  Conway’s total raise ($215,881) is almost equal to Riemer’s and he actually collected more than Riemer from individuals.  The difference is that he has spent a lot more than Riemer by employing a campaign manager from the early days of his candidacy.  But since that campaign manager is former Raskin field staffer Doug Wallick, that was a good decision.  Conway combines a MoCo-targeted message of education, transportation and jobs with a likable personality and a staggering ability to learn quickly.  So far, so good.

The Council At-Large candidates pose for their Class of ’18 picture.

Next come the others who have qualified for public financing, most of whom have done so recently.  Evan Glass ran strong in District 5 last time, knows the county well and has a lot of fans from his service on more advisory boards and task forces than your author can count.  Chris Wilhelm is a progressive teacher who should appeal to his union, the powerhouse MCEA.  Will Jawando is a skilled candidate who would be in the House of Delegates now if it weren’t for Jamie Raskin’s 2014 slate.  Gabe Albornoz combines several networks – party, Leggett supporters and folks who have known him from his day job at the Recreation Department – and is liked by basically everyone who meets him.  A group of nine candidates – Glass, Wilhelm, Jawando, Albornoz, Hoan Dang, Seth Grimes, Shruti Bhatnagar, Mohammed Siddique and Ashwani Jain – are basically clustered together financially.  Danielle Meitiv will be right there too because she is close to qualifying for matching funds.

And then there are the rest.  Look folks – it’s popular to say that there are more than 30 candidates in this race.  But in all truth, the number of viable candidates is at most half that number.  To everyone who filed an affidavit or is not close to qualifying for matching funds: it’s not gonna happen for you, OK?  You’re the gazelle trying to run with a pack of hungry cheetahs.  You need to show some game or don’t show up at candidate forums asking for your ninety seconds of speaking time along with the folks that are busting their rear ends and getting several hundred residents to contribute.

We have a lot of questions about this data, such as: who is giving money?  Which candidates are drawing support from specific parts of the county?  And why aren’t the female candidates doing better?  (Of the top twelve fundraising candidates, only one – Shruti Bhatnagar – is a woman.)  All of that analysis will have to wait as we are done for now.

Next: the district council candidates.


The Floreen Path to At-Large Success

By Adam Pagnucco.

Montgomery County’s At-Large County Council race may be the hardest contest in the county to predict.  That’s because it doesn’t necessarily involve candidates running against each other directly.  It operates more like a political market in which the four candidates who are able to sell their product to the most people win.  That’s why candidates who are completely different from each other – who are selling entirely different things – often finish in the top four together.  Viewed in this way, there are multiple paths to victory available in every at-large election.  One path worth examining for this year is the one taken by four-term incumbent Nancy Floreen.

Floreen, a former Planning Board Member and Mayor of Garrett Park, was first elected as part of Doug Duncan’s End Gridlock slate in 2002.  With four terms in office, she is by far the longest-serving female at-large Council Member since the council’s current structure was established in 1990.  She has enjoyed strong support from the business and real estate communities for her entire tenure in office and has also drawn some labor and progressive backing.  One union that has never endorsed her is MCEA – indeed, she is the only council candidate who has been elected four straight times without the Apple Ballot since MCEA began using it in the 1990s.  Floreen is not known for initiating progressive bills, but she has often voted for them, including the 2008 prevailing wage law, the 2013 and 2017 minimum wage hikes, the 2014 public campaign financing law and the 2015 paid sick leave law.  Despite her reputation for business-friendly positions, Floreen passed three major tax hikes during her two years as Council President and voted for others.  Progressives don’t give her enough credit for her willingness to support new revenue for government.  And so it’s fair to say that she has balanced between the left and the center during her four terms in office.

A Floreen mailer from her first campaign in 2002.  Note how she shows support from two very different County Executives.

The electoral trajectory of Council Member Marc Elrich, who went from losing four straight council races to finishing first at-large two cycles in a row, is well known.  Several candidates have tried to emulate his success over the years but none have matched it.  Floreen’s success is less recognized but still substantial.  Since 2002, she has finished third, fourth, third and second in the Democratic primaries in that order.  Since her first election, she has cut the vote gap between herself and the first-place finisher by more than half.  If she were not covered by term limits and chose to run for reelection, she would be the odds-on favorite to finish first in the next at-large race with Elrich running for Executive.

Below are Floreen’s ranks of finish in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 primaries by state legislative and council district.  Also displayed is her percentage of the vote in 2014.  She enjoyed significant gains in 2014, especially in Upcounty districts where she finished first or second.

Below is the same information displayed by city and town.  In 2014, Floreen became the top vote-getter in most Upcounty areas including Brookeville, Clarksburg, Damascus, Darnestown, Germantown, Laytonsville and Montgomery Village as well as Burtonsville, Gaithersburg, Sandy Spring and Wheaton.  Her vote percentages ranged from 18-22% with the exceptions of Dickerson, Downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park, areas with local favorites in the race.

Floreen combines schools and jobs in a 2014 mailer.

So what has Floreen been selling in the at-large political market?  She has run as a center-left, business-backed candidate emphasizing economic growth, job creation, schools and social liberalism.  She has also been aided by the fact that in three of her four terms, she was the only female at-large incumbent.  That combination allowed her to pick up lots of votes in relatively moderate Upcounty and Midcounty areas as well as from people who felt the council should have at least one woman who represented the whole county.  Not only has that been a successful strategy, it has been increasingly successful over time.  And it’s not just due to incumbency – during Floreen’s tenure in office, two of her at-large colleagues were defeated and another (George Leventhal) slid from finishing first in 2006 to fourth in the next two cycles.  By 2014, enough voters wanted to buy Floreen’s product that they elevated her above everyone else save Elrich.

There are echoes of Elrich all over the evolving at-large race.  Several candidates are advocating his positions in favor of raising the minimum wage, limiting the influence of corporate money, protecting renters and working to reduce income inequality.  But Floreen’s path to at-large success is a proven winner too.  Will anyone take it?


Greenberger Compares County Council to Washington Redskins

By Adam Pagnucco.

In the most brutal campaign attack of the cycle, former County Council spokesman and current at-large council candidate Neil Greenberger is comparing the council to the Washington Redskins.  Under current owner Dan Snyder, perhaps the most despised franchise owner in pro sports, the team has won just two playoff games in the last nineteen seasons.  They are commonly regarded as the third-most dysfunctional institution in the Washington region after the White House and Congress.  We don’t agree with Greenberger that the council is that bad, but as a Washington Post reporter who covered the Skins in their glory years, Greenberger’s take sure is amusing!  We reprint his blast email below.

From Neil Greenberger


Montgomery County Council At-large

Football and Montgomery County Politics

Jan. 10 and Jan. 26

26 years and $26

Why this is all about change – And making a difference

On Jan. 26, 1992, Washington’s professional football team won its last Super Bowl. In the 26 years since, not a lot of good things have happened to that organization. It often doesn’t listen or care what its fans think.

On Jan. 10, 2018, the first campaign financial reporting period will end for candidates seeking Montgomery County political offices. While candidates can accept contributions beyond the first reporting date, with at least 30 people running for the four available at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council, those that collect donations of support early in the campaign will prove to be the strongest contenders for this Super Bowl of elections.

So, what do these two things have in common?

In both Washington professional football and on the Montgomery County Council, there is a great need for better direction, better efficiency, more listening to what the “experts” regard as important and real plans for the future. In one of these cases, you can help: by supporting my candidacy for an at-large seat on the County Council and backing a progressive agenda that helps those in need and improves services while spending money efficiently and not raising property taxes over the next four years.

Those directing Washington’s professional football team do not seem to have a game plan for long-term success. My campaign is based on doing the right things that will make Montgomery County a better place to live for our future generations.

Those directing Washington’s professional football team have some very smart people offering advice on how to improve its situation—but the team leaders have opted to ignore that advice. The result has been years of failure. Over the past year, I have been meeting people throughout Montgomery County and listening to what they want to improve in the County, their neighborhoods and for the long-term future of their children.

Those directing Washington’s professional football team do not seem to have a playlist for the future. In listening to Montgomery residents, I know the priorities for our county must be a public school system that strives to get better for students at all schools around the county—and moves ahead with big and innovative steps, rather than the goal of holding the status quo. We want development that plans for realistic school capacity needs, roads to support the development and parking spaces so all people in the county can enjoy these new projects. And we want things done efficiently, without the spiraling waste of tax dollars that has been the hallmark of our county for the past decade.

Those directing Washington’s professional football team keep going to the same well when it needs more money: raising ticket prices, concession prices and parking prices—without regard to the burden it puts on its supporters. As a former Washington Post reporter and longtime County employee, I know where to find the waste in County government. And by using the county law (approved by voters) that allows one Councilmember to block an increase in property taxes, I will GUARANTEE that property taxes will not increase above the County Charter Limit (basically the annual cost of living) for the next four years.

How can you help?

You may not be able to change the future of Washington’s football team. But you can make a difference in the future of Montgomery County.

To commemorate Washington’s 26th anniversary without a Super Bowl since 1992, I am hoping you will contribute $26 to my campaign for the County Council before January 10, 2018. (Any individual can contribute up to $150, but right now, $26 will be great). It will lead to the changes you tell me you want in Montgomery County. And in this case, you get to call the plays.

Thanks for helping!