By Adam Pagnucco.
Seth Grimes, Takoma Park
Former Takoma Park City Council Member Seth Grimes’s edge is his experience. Other than incumbent Hans Riemer and Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39), Grimes is the only candidate in the field who has served in elected office so far. During his two terms in office (2011-2015), Grimes passed legislation allowing 16-year-olds to vote in municipal elections as well as banning environmentally harmful pesticides and polystyrene containers. The latter two bills were models for similar county legislation. He also pushed for better management practices in the city both before and after he started serving on the council.
In person, Grimes comes across as studious and tremendously substantive. Those qualities are present in such abundance that he can struggle to convey ideas in layman’s terms. He can go into significant detail on his favorite subjects, including affordable housing, food security, reducing poverty and municipal tax duplication. On many other subjects, Grimes can relate them to his work in the city. As a provider of many more services than a lot of Maryland municipalities (including a full service police department), the city provides a good laboratory for understanding the functions and problems of county government.
One major plus for your author is that Grimes is a blogger. (Folks, we bloggers are sorely misunderstood and must stick together in the face of a sometimes unforgiving world!) His blog shows a person who is fact-oriented, careful, versed in policy and extremely well informed. It’s obvious that he would be ready to serve on the County Council from day one. That fact alone makes him worthy of consideration for your vote.
Ashwani Jain, Potomac
Former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain has an inspiring story. He is a first generation American whose father came here from India years ago with no connections and built a thriving family jewelry business. He is also a cancer survivor, having contracted the disease at age 13 and undergone chemotherapy. Jain understands the American dream as well as personal tragedy. Lots of people will relate to him.
Jain’s claim to fame is his association with President Obama, dating from his volunteering for him ten years ago and ultimately culminating in positions at the White House and the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. He is part of the local Obama network that also includes Council Member Hans Riemer, Delegate Marc Korman, former Maryland Obama Director Jason Waskey, former Delegate candidate Kyle Lierman, former MCDCC Member Oscar Ramirez and fellow at-large council candidate Will Jawando. But Jain is not just a national-level person – he is also a native of the county and has lived in several parts of it, both east and west. That gives him a gut-level knowledge of the county that most transplants don’t have.
Jain’s policy views on land use and budgetary issues are not well developed, though he does favor transit projects like the Purple Line and the BRT system, he supports a $15 minimum wage, he believes the county should be a sanctuary jurisdiction and he emphasizes the need for affordable housing. He also thinks the county should consider ending its liquor monopoly. But perhaps the biggest reason why voters will like him in addition to his Obama experience is his appealing personality. Simply put, it is virtually impossible to dislike him. That’s a major asset for any politician. Local activists don’t know him yet, but he could really surprise people before this race is over.
That’s it for now, folks. As we meet more candidates, we may renew this series in the future!