By Adam Pagnucco.
Part One of this series laid out the rules and methodology for how we determined MoCo’s most influential people. These lists were developed by adding together the nominations of 85 people who are themselves extremely knowledgeable and influential. Today, we begin the list of the most influential non-elected people in MoCo. They may not have the direct power of elected officials, but they still have considerable indirect ability to shape this county’s politics and government.
15 (tied). David Blair, Executive Chairman, Accountable Health, Inc. and Chairman, Coalition for Advocacy and Policy Solutions – 7 votes
AP: David Blair is a double threat with both the non-profit think tank he chairs, the Coalition for Advocacy and Policy Solutions (CAPS), and his status as a potential candidate for another run for office. No matter where you go in MoCo politics today, the question of “What is Blair going to do?” keeps popping up. (Disclosure: CAPS is one of my clients.)
15 (tied). Joy Nurmi, Chief of Staff, Office of Council Member Gabe Albornoz – 7 votes
Source: Commands influence and knows what’s going on.
Source: She knows where all of the bodies are buried, and Gabe Albornoz was very wise to hire her as chief of staff. Possibly the driest humor I’ve ever encountered in Rockville. Cross her at your peril.
Source: As plugged in as anyone in County politics. The close relationship with the CE has clearly cooled, but her deep ties to virtually all the holdovers in his administration are as strong as ever. She’s fiercely loyal to her current boss (Gabe) as she was to her last ones (Leggett & Praisner). Has unbridled passion and a powerful bull in a china shop personality — an interesting juxtaposition to a boss who has been referred to as “Mr. Rogers.”
AP: The Fixer. She is tougher than you. She knows more than you do. She remembers things that you have never heard about. Don’t even think about messing with her. I did once when I was young and foolish. Never again! All of that said, The Fixer gets a lot of respect and is a serious force for good in Rockville.
15 (tied). Dan Reed, Author, Just Up the Pike/Greater Greater Washington – 7 votes
Source: The public intellectual we have done nothing to deserve.
AP: If Planning Board Chairman Casey Anderson is the primary smart growth leader inside the government, Dan is the main leader outside of it. Young people who are looking to get involved in the county should look to Dan as a role model.
15 (tied). Laura Stewart, Vice President for Advocacy, MCCPTA – 7 votes
Source: Works A TON behind the scenes. She is my go to gal when I’m going into the weeds on anything school related. She has relationships and a wide breadth of advocacy experience.
Source: Everywhere all the time – in Annapolis and at the Council. Persistent!
AP: Only the coronavirus could stop Laura from going to events non-stop! Few activists aside from Diana Conway show up at more things, know more people and work as hard as she does.
13 (tied). Glenn Orlin, Transportation and Capital Budget Expert, County Council – 8 votes
Source: Retirement leaves massive void. But his impact will last decades, arguably having more power (right or wrong) than individual Council Members on CIP projects, school construction/subdivision staging policy and transportation projects, planning and policy.
Source: Retiring, but has been so influential even this last year he stays on my list.
AP: The reason why Glenn doesn’t rank higher is that his influence is largely invisible outside of the county council building. But make no mistake: his knowledge and his experience are vast. Few if any public officials will leave a longer-lasting mark on this county than Glenn and that includes his bosses on the council.
13 (tied). Julie Verratti, Co-Founder, Denizens Brewing Company – 8 votes
Source: The go-to voice of small biz in MoCo and Maryland, especially recently with COVID economic remedies.
AP: A rare crossover figure between the worlds of business and politics. She is responsible for opening up the craft brewing world in MoCo and helps run one of the best breweries anywhere.
More to come in Part Six!