By Adam Pagnucco.
Council Member Will Jawando, who is shown in a video by Nine Districts for MoCo in alleged support of their position, has denounced the video as intended to “mislead the public.”
The video, for which Nine Districts has taken out a Facebook ad, shows footage of Jawando speaking at a session of the county’s charter review commission in February. The video prefaces his remarks with the statement, “Why Montgomery County needs 9 Districts…” The video then shows him saying the following in an edited clip:
People should elect who represent their values, and to some points earlier, you know, there’s growing upcounty population… I do think the issue of representation is important. You know, I don’t… everyone in the county is not equally heard. Right, big surprise.
Here is what the Nine Districts group is not telling people: not only does Jawando not support their position, he actually argued against it in front of the charter review commission at that very same event. The commission posted a video showing Jawando’s full comments (along with everyone else) and he mentioned Prince George’s County, which had a nine district council for decades and added two at-large seats in 2018:
I’d also add that the Prince George’s County model that was mentioned is not insignificant because they were in that district model for a long time and, again, added two members, went to eleven, added two at-large members because they were having these parochial fights that they couldn’t get anything done and were not as collegial as they wanted to be. And I’ve spoken to a lot of them and they think it’s working pretty well with the at-large members.
And I think you don’t want to give people less representation, you want to have more. Right now, it’s true, you can decide whether you think this is good or not, but every person in the county votes for five members of the council, a majority of the council, and I just think that’s such a significant and powerful point. Now whether they come to your community or not, or they’re representing… I certainly try, you know, when anyone wants me to come, I’ll come, and I don’t know what’s been true in the past, but I think that is a powerful, powerful tool and to lose that, I think it’s not good for the voter.
The commission’s video, starting at the point when Jawando’s full remarks begin, is below.
I asked Jawando for a statement on the Nine Districts video. He said:
It is disappointing but perhaps not surprising that the Nine District campaign is using a partial clip of a longer statement of mine in order to mislead the public. Let me be very clear that I support Question C, which adds two additional district seats while maintaining At-Large Councilmember seats. Voters deserve more representation not less and must be able to have their voices heard by five councilmembers – four at-large and one representative for their district. The Nine District proposal to eliminate at-large seats actually disenfranchises voters by limiting their voice on the council to one elected member.
It’s clear that Jawando opposes nine districts. He argued against the proposal at the same event from which the Nine Districts group uses an edited video clip to allege that he supports them. Jawando also voted in favor of a rival proposal to keep the at-large seats and add two district seats. Nine Districts knows all of this very well. Their video is indeed misleading and should be taken down.