By Adam Pagnucco.
Marilyn Balcombe, a Germantown resident who ran a strong fifth in the 2018 Democratic Party council at-large primary, is co-chairing a new group opposing the Nine Districts charter amendment (Question D). Balcombe has previously written a guest blog for Seventh State making the case for Upcounty to increase its voter turnout as a way to gain influence in county politics. The press release from Balcombe’s new group is reprinted below.
For Immediate Release
September 23, 2020
Marilyn Balcombe, firstname.lastname@example.org (Co-chair)
Michelle Graham, email@example.com (Co-chair)
Residents for More Representation
County Leaders Form Ballot Committee to Oppose Nine Districts
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MD — A broad coalition of grassroots, labor and business leaders from across Montgomery County today announced the formation of Residents for More Representation to support the expansion of the County Council to 11 members and oppose the creation of nine separate districts.
Upcounty leader Marilyn Balcombe of Germantown and East County leader Michelle Graham of Olney will co-chair the effort in support of Montgomery County Ballot Question C, which would expand the number of council districts from five to seven, while retaining the four at-large seats. Residents for More Representation will also actively oppose Ballot Question D, which would eliminate the four at-large seats and replace them with four individual districts.
“As a resident of Germantown, I know that residents of Montgomery County need more representation, not less,” said Marilyn Balcombe. “The county’s population has increased by 50% over the last 30 years, which is why we need to expand and modernize our council structure so that it better reflects our incredible growth and brings local government closer to our residents. Question C is the best approach to achieve a shared goal by many in our community. Adding two additional districts will help increase the level of constituent service and protect the important role of our at-large councilmembers.”
“We live in an incredibly diverse county of 1.1 million residents and the at-large councilmembers play an important role in reflecting that diversity,” said Michelle Graham. “The current council is the most culturally diverse council in our history, with two Black, two Latino and one LGBTQ councilmember, three of whom are at-large. Adding two more councilmembers will increase the number of voices and help increase the diversity of views represented on the council.”
Montgomery County voters will vote on six ballot measures in this election. Questions C and D would both restructure the County Council from the current configuration of electing five by districts and four at-large. Question C would create two new district seats, while maintaining the four at-large seats. Question D would eliminate the four at-large seats and create nine separate geographic districts. Changing the council structure to nine separate districts would result in reducing each resident’s representation on the council from five to one.
Residents for More Representation is a registered ballot committee formed to support expanded representation and more geographic and cultural diversity on the County Council.
Marilyn Balcombe is the current President/CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce and has been actively engaged in the County for over 26 years. As a former At-Large candidate for the Montgomery County Council and as an Upcounty resident, Balcombe has a strong understanding of the needs in her community and the importance of expanding representation.
Michelle Graham grew up in Montgomery County where she has resided for more than 40 years. An active member of a grassroots organization formed, in part, to educate and raise the level of civic engagement, particularly among communities of color, she is dedicated to ensuring that citizens, especially underrepresented groups, are informed about local issues and the potential impact to their lives and community.