Category Archives: Hans Riemer

Riemer Takes on Elrich

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member Hans Riemer has used Facebook to weigh in on his colleague, Marc Elrich, who is running for Executive.  Riemer and Elrich have cooperated on numerous progressive priorities like Elrich’s $15 minimum wage bill, Riemer’s bill to restore the county’s earned income tax credit, protecting Ten Mile Creek and instituting paid leave, but the two have occasionally disagreed on land use issues.  Other than Nancy Floreen, who has endorsed Rose Krasnow, the other incumbent Council Members who aren’t running for Executive themselves have been quiet on the Executive race.  We reprint Riemer’s Facebook post below.  (Disclosure: your author was Riemer’s Chief of Staff from 2010 through 2014.)

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Campaign Finance Reports: Council At-Large, June 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Let’s look at the June campaign finance reports for the Council At-Large candidates, the last ones available prior to the primary.  A note on methodology.  First, we calculate total raised and total spent across the entire cycle and not just over the course of one report period.  Second, we separate self-funding from funds raised from others.  Self-funding includes money from spouses.  Third, for publicly financed candidates, we include public matching fund distributions that have been requested but not deposited in raised money and in the column entitled “Cash Balance With Requested Public Contributions.”  That gives you a better idea of the true financial position of publicly financed campaigns.

Below is our fundraising summary for the Council At-Large candidates.  We are including only those who have qualified for matching funds in the public financing system or have raised at least $100,000 in traditional financing.  With a field this deep and talented, candidates who have not met either of these thresholds will struggle to compete.

Four candidates are bunched at the top: incumbent Hans Riemer and Will Jawando, Evan Glass and Bill Conway.  Two more – Hoan Dang and Gabe Albornoz – have raised enough money to compare with past candidates who have won.  Then there is MCPS teacher Chris Wilhelm, who is working as hard as anyone and has an entire side of the Apple Ballot to himself.  That has to be worth the equivalent of an extra mailer or two.  Finally, school board member Jill Ortman-Fouse is not a money leader, having entered the race very late, but she does have a base of loyalists who could be very useful in working the polls on Election Day.  Overall, our view is that Riemer will be reelected, Jawando and Glass are in good positions and one – maybe two – of the others named above will likely also be elected.

Here’s a question for the readers: why are the female candidates not raising more money?  Danielle Meitiv (who ranks 10th on the chart above), Marilyn Balcombe (11th), Brandy Brooks (12th) and Ortman-Fouse (14th) are all good candidates running in an electorate that is 60% female.  Not only do their totals lag the above men – they also lag the amounts raised by Beth Daly (2014), Becky Wagner (2010), Duchy Trachtenberg (2006 and 2010) and of course four-term incumbent Nancy Floreen.  Public financing was supposed to equalize the influence of small contributors, including women, with corporate interests that are overwhelmingly male dominated.  And yet the nine top fundraisers are men.

Let’s remember that the best-financed candidates don’t always win.  Exhibit A is the chronically underfunded Marc Elrich, who finished first in the last two at-large races and could be the next County Executive.  The at-large race also has produced surprises in the past, including the defeats of incumbents Blair Ewing (2002), Mike Subin (2006) and Trachtenberg (2010).  As soon as your author thinks he has the at-large race figured out – BAM! – something different happens!

This is probably the best at-large field in MoCo history.  It’s sad that only four of them will win.  But so it is.  On to Election Night.

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The Wilhelm Ballot

By Adam Pagnucco.

Here is something we haven’t seen before: a mid-term year Apple Ballot with one candidate occupying one side of it and a list of others on the other side.  This Apple, still in wrapping, is customized in favor of Council At-Large candidate Chris Wilhelm.

Here is another one spotlighting District 16 House candidate Samir Paul.

The Apple we were given at the Wheaton early voting site was not like these.  It had county candidates on one side and state candidates on the other, a typical format used in the past.

Wilhelm and Paul are MCPS teachers.  We totally get why MCEA would like to elect its own members to office, although that has not always been their top priority.  For example, the union endorsed County Council District 5 incumbent Derick Berlage over MCPS teacher Marc Elrich in 1998.  In Elrich’s 2002 and 2006 races, he did appear on the Apple but we don’t recall him getting an entire side of it to himself.

The races involving Paul and Wilhelm are very different.  In District 16, the two incumbent Delegates – Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman – are endorsed by MCEA and a lock for reelection.  Paul is in a tight contest with fellow new candidate Sara Love for the open seat being vacated by Delegate Bill Frick.  He needs every edge he can get.

The Council At-Large race, on the other hand, is extremely competitive and unpredictable.  MCEA has endorsed incumbent Hans Riemer, Brandy Brooks and Will Jawando in addition to Wilhelm.  Riemer seems likely to be reelected but that’s about all that can be safely predicted in this race.  What will Riemer, Brooks and Jawando think of the Wilhelm Ballot?

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Nancy Floreen’s Recommendations for the June Primary

By Council Member Nancy Floreen.

As someone in the unique position of watching the campaign season after 15 and a half years of being on the inside, I have pretty strong feelings about who are the right folks for electoral office.

My criteria:

Is that candidate well informed about the office he or she seeks?

Is that person an honest broker – ie – with the experience and grounding in reality that leads to genuine capacity for problem solving?

Is that person candid, or does that person have a different story for every audience?

Is that person humble or does that person take credit for shared initiatives or make promises that cannot be kept?

Does that person have the demonstrated temperament to treat people he or she disagrees with respectfully?

Is that person an independent thinker, or likely to be more influenced by endorsers?

Does that person have a track record of credible community engagement ?

Does that person have the backbone to stand up to political pressure?

Does that person have a genuine passion for the office, or is it just another job?

Does that person stand a chance in the General Election?

There are a lot of candidates out there, but not that many who satisfy my standards..

Here’s who I believe warrants your vote.

Noteworthy are my current council colleagues running for re- election – Hans Riemer, Craig Rice, Sid Katz, Nancy Navarro and Tom Hucker. We don’t all agree on everything all of the time, but they are hard working, committed and all have long histories of community engagement.

As for the open seats – these are my picks :

Governor – Rushern Baker. You try wrestling with an entrenched school system and come out alive! Tough, rational and caring.

County Executive – Rose Krasnow – an experienced, yet independent voice. The former Mayor of Rockville, she has wide ranging financial, government and nonprofit management expertise, and is deeply grounded in the county and community issues.

County Council At Large –

Gabe Albornoz – long experience with the reality of our community and the ways of government through the Recreation Department

Marilyn Balcombe – a long term fighter for the largely ignored upcounty

Evan Glass – a staunch community organizer, known for his work with the Gandhi Brigade

Council District 1 – Reggie Oldak – the only candidate who actually knows the county and how the Council works (as a former staff member) and a long time community advocate.

This is a very important election for our collective futures! Be thoughtful in your choices!

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Josh Starr’s Picks

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.

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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.

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Council At-Large Fundraising History

By Adam Pagnucco.

Last week, we wrote about fundraising in the Council At-Large race.  Today we put that in perspective.  How do today’s campaigns compare to the campaigns of the past?

There are two big differences between this year’s Council At-Large race and its three predecessors: 2006, 2010 and 2014.  The first is the presence of public financing.  The second is the number of open seats.  In 2006, there was one open seat vacated by Steve Silverman, who ran for County Executive.  In 2010 and 2014, all four incumbents ran again.  This year, there are three at-large vacancies – something that has never happened before.

One thing that all four cycles have in common is the importance of fundraising.  Public financing may have changed the mode by which fundraising occurs, but it did not reduce the centrality of fundraising to the prospect of winning.  Raising a lot of money doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s hard to win without it!

Below is a chart showing fundraising for Council At-Large candidates over the last four cycles.  Candidates shown include incumbents, winners and all others raising at least $150,000.  Contributions to 2018 candidates go through the Pre-Primary 1 report, which was due on May 22.  Incumbency, endorsements by the Washington Post and MCEA and place of finish are also shown.

Since 2006, all candidates who raised at least $240,000 won with one exception: Duchy Trachtenberg.  In 2010, Trachtenberg – then a first-term incumbent – committed one of the craziest decisions of all time by sitting on $146,000.  Rumor had it that she had polls showing her winning and had decided to save her money for a future race, perhaps for Executive.  Her fellow incumbent, George Leventhal, edged her out for the fourth spot by 3,981 votes.  If Trachtenberg had spent her full sum, she might have been able to send out at least another three mailers and history could have changed.

On the other side, no one raising less than $230,000 has won since 2006 with one exception: Marc Elrich.  Love him or hate him, Elrich is the exception to a lot of rules in MoCo politics and he has always vastly outperformed his fundraising.  Becky Wagner (2010) and Beth Daly (2014) were good candidates but they couldn’t quite raise enough money to break through, even with substantial self-financing.

This year, the folks whose fundraising is in the same ballpark as prior winners are Hans Riemer (the race’s sole incumbent), Evan Glass, Bill Conway and Will Jawando.  Gabe Albornoz and Hoan Dang are close.  The others on this chart are below Daly and Wagner.  All of this year’s candidates will raise a bit more money because these figures only go through a month before the primary.  But those in public financing – everyone except Delegate Charles Barkley and Ashwani Jain – have already raised most of their funds for this cycle.  Public financing does not allow for last-second $50,000 loans or bundled corporate checks to pay for a final mailer or two.

Money isn’t everything – just ask David Trone.  But it has a role and public financing has not changed that.  As we go down to the wire in the at-large race, money matters as much as ever.

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Campaign Finance Reports: Council At-Large, May 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Today, we look at the Council At-Large candidates.  As with yesterday, we start with a note on methodology.  First, we calculate total raised and total spent across the entire cycle and not just over the course of one report period.  Second, we separate self-funding from funds raised from others.  Self-funding includes money from spouses.  Third, for publicly financed candidates, we include public matching fund distributions that have been requested but not deposited in raised money and in the column entitled “Cash Balance With Requested Public Contributions.”  That gives you a better idea of the true financial position of publicly financed campaigns.

Below is our fundraising summary for the Council At-Large candidates.

First, a few random notes.  As of this writing, five at-large candidates – Craig Carozza-Caviness, Ron Colbert, Paul Geller, Richard Gottfried and Darwin Romero – have not filed May reports.  Lorna Phillips Forde did file a May report and requested matching funds, but her report contains many duplicated entries and is a big mess.  We are not printing her numbers until they get straightened out.  Michele Riley has given herself a combined $21,000 in two loans and one contribution, which exceeds the $12,000 self-funding maximum allowed in public financing.  That needs to be corrected or otherwise remedied.

Now to the numbers.  In the pre-public financing days, winning at-large candidates generally raised $250,000 or more with the notable exception of Marc Elrich.  Four candidates are in that territory: Hans Riemer (the only incumbent), Evan Glass, Bill Conway and Will Jawando.  Gabe Albornoz and Hoan Dang are not far off.  Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39) has not raised quite that much, but he started with a big war chest built over years of little competition in his district.  The cash on hand leaders are Glass, Riemer and Barkley, who are virtually tied, followed by Conway and then Jawando.

In evaluating differences in cash position, we don’t find variances of $20,000-30,000 very significant.  That’s because candidates schedule their expenditures differently.  Some have spent a bit more before the deadline and some held back to show a bigger balance.  What we do find significant is the difference between candidates who have close to $200,000 available for the final push – Riemer, Glass, Barkley and Conway – and those who have half that amount or less, such as Albornoz, Dang, Marilyn Balcombe, Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mohammad Siddique, Ashwani Jain, Danielle Meitiv, Seth Grimes and Brandy Brooks.  (Forget about those who have $25,000 or less.)  The latter group of candidates now faces very tough decisions on resource usage.  A mailer to super-Dems can cost $35,000-$45,000 depending on how the universe is defined.  So a candidate with $100,000 on hand might be able to squeeze out two or three mailers and that’s about it.  Is that enough to stand out given all the other races going on?

Institutional endorsements also play a role.  Several of the lesser funded candidates, especially Brooks and Meitiv, have some good endorsements that could help them.  We think the biggest beneficiary will be MCPS teacher Chris Wilhelm, who has more cash on hand than Albornoz, Dang and Balcombe and also has the Apple Ballot.  If the teachers mail for Wilhelm, that could effectively close the gap a bit between him and the top-funded candidates.

For what it’s worth, the conventional wisdom is that Riemer will be reelected, Glass and Jawando will join him and the last seat will come down to Conway or Albornoz.  We’re not ready to buy that for a couple reasons.  First, among the seven County Councils that have been elected since the current structure was established in 1990, only one – the 1998-2002 council – had zero at-large female members.  Combine that with the fact that 60% of the primary electorate is female and it’s premature to write off all the women running.  Second, this is an unprecedented year.  We have never had public financing before and we have never had so many people running at-large.  What seems like conventional wisdom now could seem very unwise in the blink of an eye!  So we expect surprises in this historic election.

Next: the council district races.

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Rice Blasts Riemer on the Budget

By Adam Pagnucco.

Budget time is a busy one for Council Members.  It involves an unusual amount of meetings, work and negotiation even by the sometimes hectic standards of Rockville.  So when the budget is over, the whole building breathes a sigh of relief and Council Members put out exultant press releases.

Not this year.  Council Member Craig Rice, who chairs the council’s Education Committee, sent out a statement seething with unhappiness about the council’s funding of Montgomery College and singling out the process led by Council President Hans Riemer.  The key lines are:

I unfortunately find myself in a very difficult and torn position, frustrated about the fact that I encountered what I feel was a flawed budget process, something that I’ve never seen in my 8-year tenure here on the Council. Something that encompassed disrespecting my committee’s hard work and well researched and coordinated recommendations for what seems is the gain of a tagline in an election year.

As Chair of the Education Committee, I truly appreciate the County Executive’s support of Montgomery County Public Schools and fully funding their budget. And I also appreciate my Council colleagues’ support to invest in our future by investing in our schools.

And while I celebrate the success of everything in this budget related to MCPS, conversely, I am dismayed at the fact that Montgomery College’s budget was severely cut which could mean even greater increases in tuition than originally proposed, reductions to strategic programs designed to reduce the achievement gap and eliminate disparities, or reductions in staff pay. And none of these things will help us to address workforce disparities that our community college has been partners with us on fixing for many years…

And while our budget of over $5.6 billion may be more than one particular entity, the way this process went with the College and the way the Council President handled it, forced me to say I initially would not vote for it…

Four years ago, I served as Council President, in an election year, leading us through an equally difficult time where we had to find creative ways to ensure our priorities were met. And I did it in a way that brought my colleagues and stakeholders together collaboratively, inviting their thoughts and feedback, never dictating to them how we would come to consensus. But this year I am remiss that this was not the case.

Council Member Rice read his statement from the dais in this video.

We reprint his full press release below.

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Montgomery Councilmember Rice’s statement on the County’s operating and capital budget agreement

May 17, 2018

ROCKVILLE, Md., May 17, 2018—Montgomery County Councilmember Craig Rice made the following remarks today after the Council reached agreement on the County’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Operating Budget, the FY19 Capital Budget and FY19-24 Capital Improvements Program. The budgets will be formally adopted by the Council on May 24.

The complete text of Councilmember Rice’s remarks:

I unfortunately find myself in a very difficult and torn position, frustrated about the fact that I encountered what I feel was a flawed budget process, something that I’ve never seen in my 8-year tenure here on the Council. Something that encompassed disrespecting my committee’s hard work and well researched and coordinated recommendations for what seems is the gain of a tagline in an election year.

As Chair of the Education Committee, I truly appreciate the County Executive’s support of Montgomery County Public Schools and fully funding their budget. And I also appreciate my Council colleagues’ support to invest in our future by investing in our schools.

And while I celebrate the success of everything in this budget related to MCPS, conversely, I am dismayed at the fact that Montgomery College’s budget was severely cut which could mean even greater increases in tuition than originally proposed, reductions to strategic programs designed to reduce the achievement gap and eliminate disparities, or reductions in staff pay. And none of these things will help us to address workforce disparities that our community college has been partners with us on fixing for many years.

Our Montgomery College is the largest community college in the state and second largest post-secondary institution after the University of Maryland. The county funds 60% of Montgomery College’s budget and we always get tremendous return on that investment. Their collaboration with MCPS through the Early College dual enrollment program allows juniors and seniors to earn an associate degree while completing their high school requirements. The ACES program provides a seamless pathway for high school students to transition to Montgomery College and provides them resources to succeed.

The college, through the insightful leadership of Dr. DeRionne Pollard, continues to create student gateways to success, in addressing the achievement gap, particularly among black and latino males, and providing career tech opportunities such as IT, Construction and Homeland Security. Their budget also asked for needed library enhancements, so students have a place conducive to studying. Montgomery College for many is a destination of choice because they know they can get a world class education at an affordable cost. To think this budget places this mission at risk is unconscionable.

And while our budget of over $5.6 billion may be more than one particular entity, the way this process went with the College and the way the Council President handled it, forced me to say I initially would not vote for it.

By prioritizing resources and fully funding Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), we send a strong message that Montgomery County values MCPS and the crucial part education plays in everything we do. Our schools are not the stereotypical K-12 institutions in which teaching and testing are done. Our kids’ educational, social/emotional wellbeing, and basic needs are provided within those four walls. I have had the pleasure of working with Superintendent Jack Smith over the past two years, and his vision and mission to enhance our school system to ensure success for all students is one I whole-heartedly support. Dr. Smith’s mantra of “all means all” is at the heart of everything he does, and through the addition of support personnel, supplemental resources and programming for our kids’ pre-k to job, our schools have given them the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

One of my initiatives, based on my work on the Kirwan Commission, was the continued funding for MCPS to expand Pre-K and broaden Head Start from half-day to full-day, giving our beginning learners the best opportunity possible to start kindergarten prepared to succeed. Other program enhancements include expansion of dual language immersion programs in our elementary schools, adding new career pathways for our high school students in areas of cybersecurity, law enforcement and aviation, and expanding ACES to additional high schools.

A critical component when it comes to safety and security in our schools is our School Resource Officers (SROs). SROs have a unique understanding of school security and how building relationships with students is crucial to mitigating and preventing incidents within our schools. Having one SRO in each high school is an important complement to MCPS’ safety and security protocols, but it is not enough. It’s time to ensure our middle schools are afforded the same attention as their needs are just as great as our high schools. This is why I strongly advocated for funding for an additional ten SROs to be placed in our middle schools. While the council was unable to fund all ten positions this year, I am very pleased that we were able to accommodate an additional three SROs for our middle schools in the coming school year.

Four years ago, I served as Council President, in an election year, leading us through an equally difficult time where we had to find creative ways to ensure our priorities were met. And I did it in a way that brought my colleagues and stakeholders together collaboratively, inviting their thoughts and feedback, never dictating to them how we would come to consensus. But this year I am remiss that this was not the case.

So while I am proud that this year’s budget again highlights K-12 education as a priority in our county, it does not do the same for our community college. But with so many priorities of mine that are addressed in this budget, I cannot turn a blind eye to them and not support the overall budget.

I fought hard to be in this seat to make sure that I was doing good things in our community and prioritizing issues that I knew were important to our constituents. And I strongly feel that our budget should reflect those same priorities.

I want to thank Montgomery College and Montgomery County Public Schools for your ongoing partnership and look forward to working with you in the future.

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Washington Post Endorses for MoCo Council, School Board

By Adam Pagnucco.

The Washington Post has endorsed the following candidates for County Council and Board of Education.

Council At-Large: Gabe Albornoz, Marilyn Balcombe, Evan Glass, Hans Riemer

Council District 1: Andrew Friedson

Council District 2: Craig Rice

Council District 3: Sidney Katz

Council District 4: Nancy Navarro

Council District 5: Tom Hucker

Board of Education At-Large: Julie Reiley

Board of Education District 3: Pat O’Neill

Read their endorsements here.

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