County Executive Ike Leggett has recorded this video for Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang.
County Executive Ike Leggett has recorded this video for Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang.
By Adam Pagnucco.
Josh Starr was Superintendent of MCPS from 2011 through 2015 and still lives in MoCo. He announced the candidates whom he supports on Facebook yesterday. Agree with Starr or not, his personal experience of working with state and county elected officials gives him a unique perspective on those running for office. With his permission, we reprint his post below.
Very long post for my MoCo friends about my choices for the primaries, with notes/comments where I feel it’s appropriate. Please note that my choices and/or comments are based on my personal knowledge and experience with these folks, not any deep analysis of every statement/position/vote they’ve made. I definitely have biases.
Governor – Rich Madaleno; Baker would be my #2. When I was super, I found Rich to be one of the smartest, most thoughtful and most knowledgeable elected officials, esp. around budget. He was also one of the first Dems to push back against Hogan. Experienced, smart, progressive, would be a great governor. I’d also love to see an open member of the LGBTQ community elected governor, although that’s in no way the primary (pun intended) reason I’m supporting him.
Senator – Ben Cardin
Congress – Jamie Raskin, because he is, after all, The Jamie Raskin.
House of Delegates – 3 candidates:
Ariana Kelly – solid, speaks out on issues re: women, no reason for her not to continue in Annapolis.
Marc Korman – smart, thoughtful (in my LM class so I got to know him well), definitely a bright future.
Samir Paul – have had a few conversations with him, very sharp and we need more teachers in office.
County Executive (wherein I get a little snarky based on my experiences with many of these candidates). I also think the next CE might be a transitional leader, as we move from 12 years of Ike during an economic downturn towards a new vision that supports bold economic development with progressive politics.
I’m supporting Roger Berliner as I’ve always found him to be thoughtful, a really good listener/learner, consistent and progressive. I’ve always felt Roger tries to do the right thing in an inclusive and reasonable way and will work hard to bring people together around his vision.
A few comments on other CE candidates:
Blair – don’t know much about him, not a huge fan of business leaders assuming they can “save” public entities. I’m pretty agnostic.
Elrich – have always appreciated his progressive politics, always had a solid working relationship, sometimes I appreciate his willingness to take strong positions, sometimes I think they’re unforced errors; major concern is the big hill he’ll have to climb to convince a wide swath of the county that he can do economic development and enact a very progressive agenda.
Frick – there are some things I like about him, personally and professionally, but my experience with Roger Berliner outweighs any support for Frick.
Krasnow – don’t know her, but I hear good things, sounds like a solid choice.
Leventhal – based on personal/professional experience, I’m in the anyone-but-Leventhal camp. He doesn’t have the temperament or leadership skills to be CE, despite his sometimes-engaging personal style and progressive politics. Please, trust me on this one.
Council At-Large (4)
Gabe Albornoz – smart, engaging, thoughtful, has a very bright future; very supportive of kids and MCPS.
Hoan Dang – what I know, I like.
Will Jawando – he deserves a shot.
Hans Riemer – very education focused, solid on economy and progressive issues, always had a good working relationship, we need someone with experience and we need a degree of stability.
I am also in the anyone-but-Jill Ortman Fouse category, based on my experience with her as a board of education member while I was superintendent. Trust me.
Council – D1
Peter Fosselman – solid, good record in Kensington, deserves a shot at council.
BoE (always at the end of the ballot)
At-Large- Karla Silvestre, glad to see her running, great community leader, smart, thoughtful, will be a great BoE member.
D3 – Pat O’Neill, because she deserves a shot at the MD record for longest serving board member. On a serious note, she knows what the role of a board member is and provides an essential balance to other board members who think their job is to run the school system.
By Adam Pagnucco.
A couple days ago, we received a mailer from Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang. We like Dang very much and might vote for him. But we hate this mailer for three reasons.
First, the cover doesn’t spotlight the candidate’s name or image. The key function of any mailer is to fix the candidate’s name in the mind of the recipient and couple it with a relatable image. In the case of a positive mailer like this one, a good image would be the candidate, perhaps with family members and a diverse group of supporters. This cover doesn’t do that. Its biggest word is “What,” which could mean anything. The candidate’s name is in relatively small print and his picture doesn’t appear.
Next, the mailer does not open easily to the interior content. It was secured by thick tape, preventing your author from opening it without either a) taking a certain amount of time to do it carefully or b) ripping or otherwise destroying the mailer. Dear mail firm guy: if you make it hard to open the mailer, most folks won’t open it. You have just wasted the candidate’s money. All tape of this kind should just be banned. Aside from the difficulty of opening it, we don’t have an issue with the interior other than the word “What” is waaaay bigger than the much more important words “Hoan Dang.”
Finally, check out the large amount of empty space on the back. It’s not obvious from our image, but the empty space goes all the way to the right side of this page and accounts for a majority of the back cover. Dang is a handsome fellow with a pleasant smile. You want to have a large shot of that smiling face, not a tiny one. All the empty space shows that there was plenty of room to print that.
We are not criticizing Hoan Dang. He’s a good candidate and a great guy. But this mailer does not do him justice. He deserves better than this! If there’s any opportunity to do so, he should get another mail firm.
By Adam Pagnucco.
Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang has released a funny campaign video addressing the pronunciation of his name. As someone whose name is continuously mis-pronounced by non-Italians, we appreciate Dang’s quandary. Please watch it and enjoy!
By Adam Pagnucco.
County Executive Ike Leggett has endorsed Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang. This is a nice boost for Dang as we have not heard of Leggett endorsing anyone other than incumbent Hans Riemer and his Recreation Director, Gabe Albornoz. We reprint Dang’s press release below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 16, 2018
County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett Endorses Hoan Dang for Montgomery County Council At-Large
Silver Spring MD — Today, County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett endorsed candidate Hoan Dang for Montgomery County Council At-Large.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with Hoan Dang for many years. We collaborated in the beginning as fellow board members of IMPACT Silver Spring. Since then, I’ve appointed him to serve on the County Executive’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Group and the Washington Suburban Transit Commission,” said County Executive Ike Leggett. “Hoan’s extensive work serving Montgomery County residents shows that he’s a selfless public servant. This is demonstrated by his work to close the achievement gap as a board member of the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy and his previous efforts to eliminate health disparities for our diverse community as co-founder of the Montgomery County Asian American Health Initiative. Hoan is a tireless advocate and attentive to the needs of the community throughout the County. As a County Executive, that is the exact sort of Councilmember I want to work with.”
Leggett continued, “As a budget expert, former refugee and community leader, I believe Hoan possesses the breadth and depth of experience needed to serve on the County Council from day one, and that’s why I am proud to endorse and support his campaign.”
“I am honored and humbled to have the endorsement of County Executive Ike Leggett. Ike is not only a widely respected voice in our county but at the state level as well. His tireless efforts make Montgomery County a more equitable, safe and welcoming place for all people,” said County Council At-Large candidate, Hoan Dang. “Ike was the first African American Councilmember and also the first African American Montgomery County Executive. I hope to be the first Asian American County Councilmember, and I am honored to have the support and endorsement of this trail blazing leader.”
Hoan Dang has also been endorsed by: Delegate Henry “Hank” Heller (D19, ret), Darrell Anderson (Mayor of Washington Grove, ret), Reggie Felton (Board of Education, ret), Henry Lee (Board of Education, ret), Madaleine Sigel (Woman’s Democratic Club, ret), Michael Lin, (Organization of Chinese Americans, ret), Jae Shin (League of Korean Americans-Montgomery County, ret), Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association, and The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization.
For more information on Hoan Dang and about his candidacy, visit www.votedang.com.
By Adam Pagnucco.
Happy New Year, folks! After a relatively quiet period in the fall, December saw a number of applications for public matching funds from county candidates participating in public financing. One of the many positive things about public financing is that when candidates apply for matching funds, they have to file full reports with the State Board of Elections. That gives data junkies like your author – and Seventh State readers! – lots of updated data without waiting for the relatively few regular campaign finance reports in the state’s schedule. The next time all campaign finance reports are due, both from public and traditional accounts, is on January 17.
The candidates below have met the thresholds for matching funds and have applied for those funds from the state.
A few notes. The column titled “Non-Qualifying Contributions and Loans” refers to loans from candidates and their spouses (up to $12,000 is allowed) and out-of-county contributions, which are allowed but not matched. The column titled “Adjusted Cash Balance” includes the cash balance in the last report plus the most recent matching funds distribution requested but not yet received. It is the closest we can approximate the financial position of each campaign at the time they filed their last report. The column titled “Burn Rate” is the percentage of funds raised that has already been spent. Generally speaking, candidates should strive to keep their burn rates low early on to save money for mail season. Mohammad Siddique’s totals are preliminary as there are a few issues in his report that will have to be resolved with the Board of Elections. And District 4 Council Member Nancy Navarro applied for $35,275 in matching funds but cannot receive them unless she gets an opponent.
Below is the number of days each candidate took to qualify for matching funds. Let’s remember that the thresholds are different: 500 in-county contributors with $40,000 for Executive candidates, 250 in-county contributors with $20,000 for at-large council candidates and 125 in-county contributors with $10,000 for district council candidates.
So what does it all mean? Here are a few thoughts.
County Executive Race
Council Members Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, who are using public financing and running for Executive, have been active in county politics for a long time. Elrich first joined the Takoma Park City Council in 1987 and has been on the county ballot in every election since. He has been an elected official for thirty years. Leventhal worked for U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski and was the Chair of the county Democrats in the 1990s. He played a key role in defeating a group of Republican Delegates in District 39 in the 1998 election. Both of these fellows have built up large networks of supporters over many years and they have done well in public financing, raising similar amounts of money from similar numbers of people.
The difference between them is burn rate. Leventhal is spending much more money than Elrich early, with some of it going to a three-person staff. He had better hope this early spending is worth it because if this trend keeps up, Elrich could have almost twice as much money as Leventhal available for mailers in May and June.
At-Large Council Race
One of Council Member Hans Riemer’s advantages as the only incumbent in this race is the ability to raise money, and he has put it to good use in public financing. Riemer leads in number of contributors and total raised. He has also maintained a low burn rate. This is Riemer’s fourth straight county campaign and he knows what he’s doing at election time. His biggest problem is that his name will be buried near the end of a VERY long ballot.
The five non-incumbents who have qualified for matching funds have raised similar amounts of money so far. As a group, they are not far behind Riemer. The one who stands out here is Bill Conway. Hoan Dang, Evan Glass, Chris Wilhelm and Mohammad Siddique all filed in December while Conway last filed in September. Our bet is that when Conway files next month, he will show four months of additional fundraising that will put him close to Riemer’s total.
That said, the five non-incumbent qualifiers have so far separated themselves from the rest of the field. Gabe Albornoz and Danielle Meitiv have said they have qualified but have not filed for matching funds with the state. No other candidates have claimed to qualify. Raising money in public financing takes a long time and raising a competitive amount (at least $250,000) takes a REALLY long time. Those at-large candidates who do not qualify soon risk appearing non-viable.
Public Matching Funds Will Be Nowhere Close to $11 Million
The county has so far set aside $11 million to cover the cost of public matching funds. That appears to be waaaaaay too much with only $1.4 million so far disbursed. Our guess is that the ultimate total will be less than half what was allocated and will be even lower in the next election cycle with fewer seats open.
Incumbents Have Nothing to Fear From Public Financing
Five council incumbents are using public financing. All five have qualified for matching funds and have done so fairly easily. We will see how the challengers stack up, particularly in the at-large race, but so far the only at-large incumbent (Hans Riemer) is leading. As we predicted last April, public financing is good for incumbents because it allows them to leverage their networks into lots of small individual contributions. State legislators and other County Councils should take heed.
That’s it for now, folks. Come back in a couple weeks when all reports, including those from traditional accounts, are due and we’ll put it all together for you!
By Hoan Dang, Candidate for Montgomery County Council (At-Large).
Life was not easy for me when I came to this country. I was only eight years old when I fled the Vietnam War with my family. Our journey to America began with living in refugee camps, and then in a crammed two-bedroom apartment with 18 other family members. But my parents worked hard to save up, and eventually settled in Bethesda. At first, I thought anywhere was better than what I had previously experienced. But it soon became clear that Montgomery County was a special place.
What Montgomery County had to offer us was priceless. The county had families like the Kreckes and the Gustafsons, our neighbors who did not hesitate to welcome us and help us adapt to our new life in America. The county had a strong public education system because I had MCPS teachers who invested in my future even though English wasn’t my first language. The county also had unparalleled opportunities for me to volunteer in my community. In the spring of 1979, I joined the Boy Scouts of America, and eventually, I became an Eagle Scout, which was when I first felt empowered to give back to the community that had given so much to me and my family. These experiences, which had a profound impact on my life, embody the progressive values of Montgomery County.
Since leading my first community service project, I have worked hard to uplift our county’s diverse communities for the past 35 years. My public service brought me to work with many others who had stories similar to mine. As former President and Board Chair of the Association of Vietnamese Americans (AVA), I led efforts to resettle over 25,000 refugees and immigrants who needed to secure housing, obtain jobs, prepare for U.S. citizenship tests, and apply for services from government agencies. As a product of our great education system myself, I believe in the importance of investing in students, which is why I have served on the board of the George B. Thomas, Sr. Learning Academy for the past 16 years. During my tenure, the Academy’s flagship Saturday school program has academically uplifted over 3,000 students annually at 12 different locations across Montgomery County.
Now, I’m running at-large because I want to ensure that our county remains a safe and welcoming community, with better opportunities for all residents. Montgomery County is a great place to live and work, but we are also facing challenges that demand innovative solutions in local government. The county’s population has almost doubled in the past 40 years, leading to overcrowded schools, horrible traffic congestion, and higher taxes for our residents. With the real threat of shrinking resources from the federal government and a slow-growing economy right here at home, we need a leader on the County Council who has a vision for a better Montgomery County.
My vision for our county is a safe and welcoming community, with a booming economy, excellent schools and a fast transportation system, where residents are empowered to better their lives and the lives of others. To achieve this vision, as your next County Councilmember At-Large, I will focus on three main priorities: jobs, education and transportation – which I refer to as “J-E-T”.
We must collaborate with small businesses to ensure they receive the critical services, information, and guidance needed to help them grow and create well-paying jobs here in Montgomery County. Job creation is stagnant in our county with projections of just 1% annual growth over the next decade. To stimulate growth, we must change how our county works with business owners to promote entrepreneurship and create well-paying jobs. We can start by changing how our county departments engage with businesses for inquiries, permits and regulatory compliance. Over 70 percent of Montgomery County businesses ranked their interaction with county government as either “average” or “poor” in a recent survey conducted by the County Executive’s Economic Advisory Group. Montgomery County should be a leader in improving interactions with business by making procedures less complex and easier to understand, so that businesses can grow and employ more people. I support many of the regulations the county has in place to protect the environment, workers and our communities, but we can also improve these regulations to better engage the business community.
We must also do a better job at promoting our county as an ideal place to do business. Here in Montgomery County, we enjoy a high quality of life, great public schools and excellent public amenities. We also have one of the educated and most diverse workforces with a high number of workers who hold college degrees, many of whom speak a second language. All of these attributes are attractive to prospective companies and crucial for our county to succeed in a 21st century economy. We have a great story to tell about Montgomery County, but we need to do a better job of telling it.
Our children need to be prepared for the 21st century workforce. This starts by addressing the overcrowding in schools across the county, by leasing and re-purposing unused commercial space for schools, early childhood education programs, and distance learning. Several jurisdictions across the country (not to mention the world) have already begun using this model, including Fairfax County in Virginia, which recently completed the conversion of a vacant office building into Bailey’s Upper Elementary School. With an office vacancy rate of over 14 percent in the County, I believe there is great potential for an adaptive reuse of these spaces.
Additionally, we need to make universal pre-k a reality in Montgomery County. Publicly funded pre-k is available to only 25 percent of all 4-year-old children who live in the County. Trends have shown pre-k education has enormous positive impacts on children, especially for those who come from multi-lingual households.
Finally, we need to bring more vocational programs to MCPS to give students more exposure to different career paths such as medical science, construction, and auto repair. Vocational careers are just as vital as careers that require a four-year college degree to our local economy and communities.
We need to reduce traffic congestion and increase transportation options by taking a comprehensive and holistic approach to our transportation infrastructure. We need to invest in all transportation modes including trains, buses, roads, bike lanes, sidewalks and everything in-between, including promoting remote work options.
We must also support and invest in transportation models that fit the needs of the individual community. The transportation needs in Clarksburg are not the same as the needs in Bethesda, which is why we must consider all available options to reduce traffic congestion. Studies have shown that every dollar spent on infrastructure boosts the economy by two dollars because such investments encourage more businesses to invest and stimulate economic development. One of the most basic responsibilities of government is to ensure people get from point A to point B quickly and safely. I will make it a priority to fulfill that responsibility to residents across the county.
For the past decades, Montgomery County has been served well by a progressive and forward-looking County Council. However, many residents still face intractable and difficult problems, which require new perspectives and approaches in local government to address those problems. I am committed to bring strong, engaged, and accountable leadership to the County Council and work with our communities as an equal partner for change. That’s the kind of leadership I want to bring as your next Montgomery County Councilmember, At-Large, and why I respectfully ask for your support and your vote on June 26, 2018.
By Adam Pagnucco.
This morning, we posted preliminary fundraising totals for candidates in public financing. But one of those reports was wrong because of a problem with the State Board of Elections’ processing software. This post contains updated information.
Shortly after our original post, we received the following communication from Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang’s campaign.
Hi Adam, this is Jonathon Rowland, campaign manager for Hoan Dang. Thank you for the article this morning. I just want to correct the amount stated. When we filed with the Board of Elections, our report was duplicated because of a glitch in the system giving us double the amount of donations. We have been in contact with the Board of Elections since Monday to resolve this issue. The actual amount of donations is 316.
When your author called Rowland for more details, he said that the Dang campaign found the error first and asked the board to correct it. Board staff acknowledged the mistake and said that they were working with their IT developer to fix it going forward. No public funds were ever distributed before the Dang campaign caught the mistake.
Including information provided by Dang’s campaign today, here is the updated comparison of the five campaigns who have applied for public financing.
Dang is not the leader in public financing. George Leventhal, who is running for Executive, is the overall leader in qualifying contributors and receipts. (Executive candidates get higher match rates than council candidates.) Among the council candidates, incumbent Hans Riemer leads in qualifying contributors and Bill Conway leads in matching funds. This should not discount a strong performance by Dang, whose financial numbers are not terribly different from Riemer’s.
Going forward, we hope the state prevents the kinds of mistakes that affected Dang’s campaign. In the initial glitchy filing, Dang supposedly requested $148,328 in public matching funds. (Again, the IT glitch was not Dang’s fault.) In the updated filing, Dang requested $74,144 in public matching funds. That’s a $74,184 difference. If Dang had not caught the mistake, could that difference have conceivably been paid out? There’s no evidence available on that point. But for the good of public confidence in the county’s public financing system, we hope such a mistake never happens.
On a different issue, we asked what happened to Council Member Marc Elrich’s filing for public matching funds in our original post. Elrich said he had enough contributors to qualify back in June but has not filed yet. When asked about it on Leventhal surrogate Saqib Ali’s Facebook page, Elrich said his delay in filing was related to a payment his campaign had made to the county party, which was subsequently ruled to not be in compliance with public financing requirements. We reprint Elrich’s statement below.
By Adam Pagnucco.
Correction: The numbers for Hoan Dang in this post are inaccurate. For updated numbers on Dang and a response by Marc Elrich, please visit our updated post.
One of the virtues of public campaign financing is the rapid release of financial reports for participating candidates. That’s right, folks – for this group of candidates, there is no need to wait until January to see fundraising numbers. That’s because when they qualify for public matching funds and request them from the state, their financial reports are released almost immediately. This is terrific for all data junkies like your author as well as inquiring minds among the readers!
Below is a summary for the five candidates who have applied to receive matching funds from the state. Bear in mind the following characteristics of the data. First, the number of qualifying contributors means the number of contributors who live in Montgomery County. Non-residents can contribute up to $150 each but the state will not authorize matching funds for them. Second, the individual contribution amounts are the basis on which the state determines how much in public matching funds will be released. Third, the date of cash balance is important because it varies depending on when the applications were sent in. That is unlike the regular reporting dates on which financial positions are summarized at the same time for all candidates. And fourth, for those candidates who have only filed once (which includes everyone except George Leventhal), the cash balances do not include public funds from the state. To estimate the cash positions of those candidates, the cash balance should be added to the public matching funds they requested.
What do we make of this?
1. Let’s start with the obvious: there are a lot of small checks out there! While many contributors are probably donating to more than one of these five campaigns, it’s not a stretch to say that close to a thousand people will have contributed by some point in the near future. It’s hard to make comparisons with the past without exquisitely detailed research to back it up (anyone want to pay us for that?) but our hunch is that this is a larger early donor pool than in prior cycles.
2. The big story here is Council At-Large candidate Hoan Dang. At-Large Council Members George Leventhal (who is running for Executive) and Hans Riemer (the only incumbent running for reelection) have a combined 22 years of representing the whole county. But Dang had more in-county contributors than either one of them! How does that happen? Dang ran for Delegate in District 19 in 2010. He was financially competitive, raising $103,418, but he finished fifth out of six candidates. There was no reason going into this race to believe that Dang would receive more grassroots financial support than Leventhal or Riemer. But so far, he has.
3. Dang is not the only story. Look at first-time candidate Bill Conway, who collected more private funds than Riemer primarily by having a larger average contribution. In most elections, challengers struggle to be financially competitive with incumbents. But the early performances of Conway and Dang relative to Riemer suggest that, at least among publicly-financed candidates, some or all of that gap may be closed. Our hunch is that a group of at-large candidates will all hit the public matching funds cap of $250,000 and therefore have similar budgets heading into mail season. The big question will then become how those totals compare to what candidates in the traditional system, like Marilyn Balcombe, Charlie Barkley, Ashwani Jain and Cherri Branson, will raise.
4. Where is Marc Elrich? The three-term at-large Council Member and Executive candidate announced that he had qualified for matching funds back in June at roughly the same time that Leventhal and Riemer said the same. Riemer followed up by filing for matching funds and Leventhal did it twice. Why hasn’t Elrich filed more than two months after his announcement? One suspects that the bewildering paperwork requirements of public financing are responsible for the delay, but political types are starting to chatter about it.
That’s all for now. Candidates, keep those reports coming in so your favorite blog has more material for the readers!