opinion | Notes for the Montgomery County Council Democratic primary

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Montgomery County voters decided in 2020 to add two new seats to the county council, creating an 11-member body. This decision, coupled with the departure of three limited-time incumbents, means there will be at least five new members. With the county facing myriad challenges — including widening its tax base and creating jobs in the wake of the crippling pandemic — who will fill those seats is critical.

More than 50 candidates are lined up in the July 19 democratic election, and the winners are likely to prevail in November’s general election. Some of the problems Montgomery faces are longstanding: congested streets, lack of affordable housing, an inhospitable business climate. Others are more recent: a rise in crime, covid-related losses in student learning. Voters would do well to select candidates committed to solving the real problems facing Montgomery residents with practical solutions, rather than those more interested in making headlines and placating proponents.

In the race for four vacancies, we support the incumbents Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass and Will Jawando and local businessman and lawyer Scott Goldberg. We enthusiastically support Mr. Albornoz, Mr. Glass and Mr. Goldberg. The two Council members have proven to be thoughtful and diligent legislators in their first four years in office. Mr. Albornoz has been at the forefront of Montgomery’s efforts to combat Covid-19, implement health protocols and streamline efforts to provide recovery funds to local workers and businesses. Mr. Glass led efforts to improve public transportation and pedestrian safety by making public buses free for all children under the age of 18. Mr. Goldberg has built a successful housing management company, giving him valuable insight into the needs of businesses missing from the council. Our approval of Mr. Jawando comes with a caveat. We admire his advocacy for racial justice, his support of libraries, and his dedication to public service. However, his penchant for listening to the loudest voices has led to unwise statements, such as his campaign against school resource officials and his support for rent control laws that would stifle the production of much-needed housing.

District 1: incumbent Andrew Friedson is the only incumbent to stand unopposed, a testament to the outstanding work of his first four years.

District 2: We agreed Marilyn Balcombe four years ago when she ran unsuccessfully for a seat at large, and we reiterate our belief that her years as a community activist and leader of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce have anchored her to the needs of the county. The Council would benefit from their pragmatic common sense.

District 3: We urge voters to come back sydney cat for a third term. With so many new Council members, it will be important to have someone of your knowledge and reputation as a consensus builder. Particularly relevant to the post-pandemic challenges the county is facing is its work on mental health and public safety issues.

District 4: Amy Ginsberg has a long history of working with non-profit organizations, most recently as director of the Manna Food Center. This work not only gave her a keen insight into the challenges faced by Montgomery residents, but also honed her ability to bring community, business and government together.

District 5: Jeremiah PopeA longtime civic activist in his Hillandale neighborhood, he is acutely aware of the challenges East County residents face, and his experience as a political adviser and chief of staff to a Maryland delegate equips him to address those needs .

District 6: Natali Fani-González, former vice chairman of the Montgomery County Planning Committee and former commissioner of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, is knowledgeable about land issues and how best to build more affordable housing, design safe roads and improve recreational opportunities.

District 7: Dawn Luedtke, an Assistant Attorney General with extensive experience in education, public safety and health law, thinks ahead in her approach to problems. Of particular note is her work in school security and law enforcement officer training.

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