Tag Archives: Julie Palakovich Carr

Kagan Endorses Haffner over Gilchrist

District 17 is having quite an interesting set of alliances this year. Sen. Cheryl Kagan is seeking renomination without opposition. Incumbent Dels. Kumar Barve and Jim Gilchrist are also seeking reelection.

Much earlier in the primary season, Barve and Gilchrist formed a slate with Rockville Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr. You can see their joint signs up near polling places and they share door-knocking literature. In contrast, Kagan decided to hold off on supporting other candidates.

Prior to early voting, however, she released a sample ballot indicating that she favors giving the heave-ho to Gilchrist and replacing him Julian Haffner. This places her somewhat at odds with the two other delegates she is supporting.

Del. Jim Gilchrist has served three terms in the House and is widely seen as one of its most affable members. His quiet style is very different from Sen. Kagan’s. Haffner is an attorney who served on MCDCCand son of a Sierra Leonean immigrant mother.

Current School Board Member Rebecca Smondrowski is also running for the seat and I’ve heard she has performed well in forums. In short, District 17 has a wealth of good candidates for the three delegate seats – and an unusual set of alliances too.

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Campaign Finance Reports: Districts 16 and 17, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

District 16

First, the easy part: all three incumbents – Senator Susan Lee and Delegates Ariana Kelly and Marc Korman – are running as a team and are headed to reelection.  Lee has historically been one of the delegation’s best fundraisers (although Korman surpassed her by a little bit this cycle).  Kelly is beloved by advocates for families, women and children for her work on their issues and has emerged as a leader on ridding Annapolis of sexual harassment.  Korman is a rare bird: a lawyer who is good with numbers.  Metro riders everywhere should thank him for his tenacious work to improve WMATA.  Great things are predicted for Korman so long as he does not return to blogging.

Attorney Sara Love and MCPS teacher Samir Paul are the top non-incumbents vying for the seat being vacated by Delegate Bill Frick, who is running for County Executive.  Love and Paul would be great candidates in any part of the county, but unfortunately for them, they are running in the same district.  Love fits in well with the progressive female voters who dominate District 16 primaries.  Paul is a teacher who has been active in MCEA (which has endorsed him), but his message is much bigger than education as he draws links between all public institutions that confer benefits but require investment, especially WMATA.  Love and Paul had super fundraising performances and are essentially equal in cash on hand.  Those who have met them are impressed with both of them, but sadly, there is only one open seat.

The Big Question: will Frick, who filed a disappointing January report, drop back down to the House race?  We know Frick does not enjoy that question, but since he withdrew from the Attorney General’s race and refiled for Delegate at the last hour in 2014, this is on everybody’s mind.  Such a move by Frick would probably result in all four incumbents being reelected, wasting huge time and effort by Love and Paul.

District 17

This district is a mess.  The only certainty here is that Senator Cheryl Kagan and Delegate Kumar Barve will be reelected, assuming that Kagan is not picked up by a gubernatorial candidate as a running mate.  As for everything else… well.

At the root of the mess is Delegate Jim Gilchrist.  By all accounts, he is a nice guy who never causes trouble.  His defenders describe him as a studious, intellectual workhorse who gets into the weeds and doesn’t claim credit for anything.  But he has little tangible to show for three terms in office.  He has passed no signature legislation.  His website is inactive.  His Facebook page has not been updated since 2014 as of this writing.  And his fundraising is weak.  Consider this: since 2006, Gilchrist has raised a total of $83,217 from others, an average of $27,739 per cycle.  (He has also self-financed $11,120 over that period.)  MoCo has a bunch of candidates who can raise $27,000 in a month.

The search result for Gilchrist’s website less than five months from election day.

So why does he keep winning office?  He has a guardian angel: Barve, who is his committee chair and likes him.  Barve slates with him regularly and appears in joint mailers with him.  Gilchrist would be a goner in most districts, but with Barve helping him, he survives.  And that has caused grumbling in some parts of District 17.

This time, Rockville City Council Member Julie Palakovich Carr decided to run for Delegate in July even when it appeared that all three incumbents (Barve, Gilchrist and Andrew Platt) were running for reelection.  Six months later, Platt dropped out and Barve and Gilchrist quickly decided to slate with Palakovich Carr.  That’s when simmering tensions erupted into the open.

Kagan, who is no fan of Gilchrist, announced that she was not endorsing the Delegate slate, at least not yet.  This is almost unheard of; in virtually all cases when incumbent Delegates form a slate and none of them are challenging the sitting Senator, the Senator participates.  And when Kagan posted her decision on Facebook, the Mayor of Gaithersburg and two Gaithersburg City Council Members voiced their displeasure with the slate.

Open dissatisfaction with the Delegate slate surfaces on Kagan’s Facebook page.

The nominal reason expressed by some for their unhappiness is that with the inclusion of Palakovich Carr, all three slate members are from Rockville and none are from Gaithersburg.  (The two cities are roughly equal in size.)  But lurking underneath is festering discontent with Gilchrist’s performance in office.  Some would prefer open competition in part because it might lead to Gilchrist’s defeat, but instead they got another slate designed to protect him.  Two Gaithersburg House candidates – school board member Rebecca Smondrowski and attorney Julian Haffner (who is married to a City Council Member) – have now entered the race.  Barve is the only Delegate candidate with any real money, so all the others have a lot of work to do.

The Big Questions: will the Gaithersburg grumblers step up and organize for one or more of the House candidates from their city?  Or will they cut their losses and make their peace with Barve and his slate-mates?  And what, if anything, will Kagan do?

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Osdoby to Head Mayor-Council Slate

Clark Reed and Rockville’s Solar Co-op

As reported on Saturday, Sima Osdoby is expected to announce her candidacy for Mayor of Rockville later today. Incumbent Bridget Newton is completing her first term.

Incumbents Julie Palakovich Carr and Virginia Onley

A reliable source let me know that Osdoby will likely run with a full slate of candidates for the Council, including two of the four incumbents: Julie Palakovich Carr and Virginia Onley. A third incumbent, Tom Moore, is not seeking reelection. I do not know the plans of the fourth incumbent Beryl Feinberg.

On the current Council, Feinberg is seen as aligned with Newton while Palakovich Carr and Moore are often in opposition. Onley is the swing vote and her support for Osdoby has to be a disappointment to incumbent Mayor Newton.

Former Councilmember Mark Pierzchala

Former Councilmember Pierzchala lost a close race to Newton in 2013 with 47% of the vote. A well-known name, he is seeking to return to the Council on Osdoby’s slate.

Clark Reed

Like Osdoby, Reed has not yet filed for election but will and join this slate. Though a new candidate, he is not exactly as newcomer. Reed chairs Rockville’s Environment Commission and helped form and lead Rockville’s Solar Co-op (see the video).

This is a strong slate. It includes two incumbents–the top two candidates in 2013–and a third candidate who is a proven vote getter even if he narrowly lost the last mayoral election. Reed also has local leadership experience and strong community ties.

The slate should boost Osdoby who is surely less well-known among Rockville residents than Mayor Newton. If slate members run as a team, including sharing campaign literature and coordinating door-knocking, it should prove a strong force.

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Civil War Skirmish in Rockville

Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton has no opinion on whether the statue of a Confederate cavalry private outside the courthouse in Rockville should be removed. “It’s a County decision. It’s not my choice,” Mayor Newton explained, when I asked her for personal views on the subject.

The statue, which has a memorial plaque stating “To Our Heroes of Montgomery Co., Maryland, That We Through Life May Not Forget To Love The Thin Gray Line” has been the subject of controversy lately in Rockville’s City government. On July 20, the City held a 3.5 hour public meeting on the topic.

Mayor Newton has gone to great lengths to make sure that her non-opinion is the official opinion of the City of Rockville. Here is what appears to have happened: Though the Council had planned to take up the issue publicly at its next meeting, Mayor Newton communicated to the Council that County Executive Leggett wanted a letter from the City more quickly.

Remove the Statue

City Councilmember Tom Moore’s draft of a proposed letter in support of removal of the statue from the courthouse gained approval from two of his colleagues–Councilmembers Virginia Onley and Julie Palakovich Carr. Here is the letter: Moore Letter_Page_1Moore Letter_Page_2Councilmember Beryl Feinberg wrote her colleagues that she couldn’t support it as written. The Mayor did not weigh in on Moore’s draft. However, as she has just one vote among five under Rockville’s system of government, Moore’s letter still had a majority.

How “Remove the Statue” Became No Opinion

At that point, Mayor Newton had two options in my view. She could  sign the letter and send it on to the County. Alternatively, she could present a counter proposal and see if she could gain support for it from a Council majority.

Newton chose the second approach but appears to have gone about it an unusual, problematic way. The Mayor got two of her colleagues–Feinberg and Onley–to approve a very different letter that says nothing most eloquently on the key subject of whether the statue should be removed.

But she appears to have left Moore and Palakovich Carr completely out of the loop on this significant rewrite–a major violation of conventional Council order. While colleagues often consult each other separately, all are normally invited to weigh in on a final decision, especially when an alternative approach has already gained majority support.

Here is the letter Mayor Newton sent:

Letter to County Executive for Confederate Statue_Page_3 Letter to County Executive for Confederate Statue_Page_4Newton did not notify Moore and Palakovich Carr until she had secured approval for the new letter privately and sent it to the County. Here is the email she sent:

Hi – attached please find the letters to County Executive Leggett and Council President Leventhal.

As you know – I was asked by Mr. Leggett to send a letter regarding the Worksession and the need for the County to follow Rockville’s HDC process.  As I have also mentioned – we have received several calls (5) from the CE’s office asking where the letter was.   Mr. Leggett was appearing live at 12:30 today and wanted to have the letter by then.  Unfortunately – we didn’t meet the deadline.

This has been an arduous process and unfortunately there have been many iterations of this letter.   My thanks to Councilmembers Onley and Feinberg for their time today in working with me to create an authentic recap of Monday’s Worksession.  This letter has been approved by a majority of the Council.

You will remember that we did not have a discussion among the Body regarding any of the options proposed by the SME’s –  or the public  – and therefore it is not possible for us to opine on the position of the Council or our  recommendations.  We have removed any statements from the letter that do not accurately reflect what happened Monday evening. . . .

I know this letter will not be pleasing to all members –  and while I regret that – what I don’t regret is that it is an factual reporting of a very significant meeting. The Worksession was a highpoint for the City – I’ve had positive comments and reactions from many different sources.  I sincerely hope that we can move past this point and get back to the business of working together to govern our City.

Not the Way to Do Business

When I spoke with Mayor Newton yesterday, she explained that she thought that the changes were necessary:

There were changes that needed to be made to be consistent with the Council worksession held on Monday, July 20th. It was important the letter reflect what happened at the worksession. There were no votes taken at the worksession. It would’ve been improper to indicate that decisions had been made.

That’s a nice explanation and sounds reasonable. But it doesn’t explain why two colleagues seem to have been left entirely out of the loop while the Mayor was shopping her very different letter. Clearly, Mayor Newton does not want to take a position and worked very hard to make sure that the City took a similar approach, even to the extent of keeping colleagues in the dark.

Moreover, though the Mayor avers that it was inappropriate for the City to opine on the subject, expressing no opinion does not mean that no decision was reached. Indeed, this approach can be an oblique way of making a decision and rendering an opinion, as it appears to have been in this case.

Especially as the Mayor’s letter takes positions on several topics, which undercuts her contention that it was inappropriate for the City to express an opinion in the absence of a public vote. For example, the letter states that the statue “should be moved once” if it is moved, and declared that it is of “historical significance” and there are “lessons to be learned from it.”

The claims made regarding the importance of public consultation are further belied by the Mayor’s seeming decision not to consult with two councilmembers and notify them only after the letter was sent. Not a model of open decision making.

Finally, the Mayor’s contention to me that it is inappropriate for the City to express an opinion because it’s the County’s decision makes little sense since (1) the County Executive solicited their opinion repeatedly, (2) the letter thanks the Council President for seeking their input, and (3) the Mayor encouraged the Council to respond to the request.

No doubt Rockville’s next Council meeting will be interesting.

 

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