2018 Md. Primary Guide: Cheat sheet to Montgomery Co. exec, county council races

WASHINGTON — You might be forgiven for mistaking the Democratic primary ballot in Montgomery County for a phone book.

On Tuesday, voters will pore over six names to pick Isiah “Ike” Leggett’s successor as county executive and a whopping 33 Democratic candidates to fill four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council. (Four Republicans and a Green Party candidate have also filed to run for those seats).

In addition, five regular district seats on the County Council are on the ballot, which in a few cases have drawn a handful of challengers.

The explosion in candidates is largely due to term limits for County Council members and a first-time public-financing option.

Here are the candidates and races to watch:

6 vie for county executive

The closely watched county executive race comes amid questions about development, transportation and the county’s economic future — and has even featured a cameo, of sorts, by President Donald Trump.

Overall, Montgomery County voters are sifting through a list of six candidates in the Democratic primary while a Republican, tax-hawk Robin Ficker, runs unopposed.

Among the Democrats, five are very familiar with state and local politics — the group includes three sitting County Council members: Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal.

Rose Krasnow has served as Rockville mayor and on the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission. Maryland state Del. Bill Frick has served in the Maryland General Assembly since 2007.

David Blair, the health care company executive, has been given not one, but two endorsements from The Washington Post.

Bruce DePuyt, senior reporter with MarylandMatters.org, noted that Blair is new to politics, “and yet, with his money — we know money matters in politics — and The Washington Post endorsement, he’s positioned to do quite well.”

Elrich, who’s gotten a lot of support from unions in his bid for county executive, pulled in the highest number of votes in the 2014 County Council at-large race, and won the endorsement of the teachers union in the current primary race.

Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner took a shot at Blair’s political ambitions, launching an ad that compared Blair to President Trump with a voice-over referring to Blair as “another rich guy with zero government experience spending his millions to buy this election.” After getting criticism about the part of the ad that featured an image of Blair’s face morphing into that of President Trump, Berliner’s camp tweaked the ad, eliminating that image.

Blair had tried to pre-empt the sort of comparison leveled by Berliner. He launched ads back in April stating he was the “opposite of Trump” and has touted his experience as a business executive as giving him the skills needed to lead the county.

De Puyt said Berliner and Leventhal aren’t seen as front-runners by analysts, but that they shouldn’t be counted out. “They’ve been around the county a long time,” he said. “They know the county very well.”

Both are three-term council members.

Krasnow, like the majority of Democrats in the race, may be less familiar to Montgomery County residents, but stands out as the only woman in the race. Montgomery County has never elected a woman to serve as county executive.

While Krasnow has the title of mayor on her political resume, Rockville has a council-manager form of government, so the role of mayor is not an executive in the traditional sense, DePuyt said. The mayor doesn’t hire and fire staff; a city manager does that.

Frick has served as the majority leader in the Maryland House of Delegates in Annapolis, but DePuyt said that hasn’t necessarily given him an advantage. He’s positioned himself as an outsider with legislative experience, and among his priorities: dismantling the county’s liquor monopoly.

Montgomery County Council

Thanks to term limits approved by county voters two years ago, there will be a lot of changes coming to the Montgomery County Council.

A total of 33 Democrats, four Republicans and one Green Party candidate have filed to fun for four at-large seats. That includes just one incumbent council member, Hans Riemer.

Below is a look at the candidates.

County Council at-large seats (voters pick 4)


Gabe Albornoz, Kensington resident and director of the county’s Recreation Department (appointed in 2007), where he oversaw 3,000 employees and a $37 million budget

Rosemary O. Arkoian, retired Russian and Arabic linguist/intelligence research analyst with the National Security Agency

Marilyn Balcombe, president and CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce and former executive director of the BlackRock Center for the Arts

Charles Barkley, Democratic delegate (District 39) since 1999, former middle school math teacher

Shruti Bhatnagar, at-large member on the executive committee of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, a member of a number of civic organizations, and a member of the Montgomery County Commission of Children and Youth

Cherri L. Branson, director of the Montgomery County Office of Procurement; served on the council for nearly a year in 2014, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy; previously worked as chief counsel for oversight on the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security

Brandy H.M. Brooks, an organizer with Progressive Maryland

Craig Carozza-Caviness, insurance consultant and real estate agent

Ron Colbert, vice president at MELE Associates Inc., a federal contracting company headquartered in Rockville, Maryland

Bill Conway, former senior counsel to the Senate Energy Committee and partner in the international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Hoan Dang, budget expert for a federal contractor; former president of the Association of Vietnamese Americans, which helps resettle refugees and immigrants in Maryland; former engineer for the National Weather Service

Tom R. Falcinelli Jr., attorney and retired police officer

Lorna Phillips Forde, small business owner and president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women

Jill Ortman Fouse, at-large member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, elected in 2014

Loretta Jean Garcia, manager of enforcement programs within ‎Montgomery County’s Office of Human Rights

Paul S. Geller, president of the Montgomery County Council of the Parent Teacher Associations

Evan Glass, former CNN producer and executive director of the Gandhi Brigade Youth Media, an after-school nonprofit focused on digital media

Richard Gottfried, president of the Twinbrook Citizens Association

Neil H. Greenberger, legislative information officer of the Montgomery County Council, former Washington Post reporter

Seth Grimes, board vice chair at Shepherd’s Table, serving the homeless and needy in Silver Spring; member of the Montgomery County Board of Social Services; current two-term member of the Takoma Park Council

Ashwani Jain, former Obama administration and campaign official, including in the departments of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development, as well as in Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative

Will Jawando, former Obama administration official at the White House and in the Education Department; founder of a social justice nonprofit

David V. Lipscomb

Melissa McKenna, vice president of Montgomery County Council of PTAs

Danielle Meitiv, “free-range mom” who made headlines in 2015 when she and her husband were investigated by child protective services after letting their two children play unsupervised in a park

Hans Riemer, incumbent council member; first elected in 2010 and currently serving as council president

Michele Riley, certified public accountant

Graciela Rivera-Oven, independent advocate

Darwin Romero, entrepreneur and operations manager for a small construction firm

Mohammad Siddique, former deputy director of special projects in the county’s Department of Transportation

Jarrett Smith, council member for the City of Takoma Park

Steve Solomon, radio producer and personality known as “Solly”

Chris Wilhelm, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teacher at Northwood High School


Robert Dyer, founder and publisher of Suburban News Network, a hyperlocal news network of sites covering Montgomery County.

Chris P. Fiotes Jr., a retired broker

Penny Musser, an insurance agent in Boyds

Shelly Skolnick, an attorney

County Council District 1 (voters pick 1)

This seat is currently held by Roger Berliner, who’s running for county executive.


Bill Cook runs a small video production business.

Peter Fosselman, former mayor of Kensington and Maryland’s deputy secretary of state

Andrew Friedson, former adviser to Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot

Ana Sol Gutierrez currently represents District 18 in the House of Delegates, a seat she has held since 2003.

Jim McGee, benefits professional for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, one of Metro’s largest unions

Regina “Reggie” Oldak, former legislative aide in Maryland statehouse and chief of staff for the County Council

Dalbin Osorio, social worker

Meredith Wellington, former member of the county planning board and founder of the civic group “Neighborhood Montgomery”


Richard Banach

County Council District 2 (voters pick 1)


Tiquia J. Bennett

Craig L. Rice, incumbent; first elected in 2010


Ed Amatetti, former business consultant, high school science teacher and founder of an education nonprofit

Tom Ferleman, Air Force veteran and strategy consultant; public representative for the UpCounty Citizens Advisory Board

Kyle Sefcik, business owner of MMA & Sport

County Council District 3 (voters pick 1)


Sidney Katz, incumbent council member, first elected in 2014

Ben Shnider, vice chair of Rockville’s Human Rights Commission

County Council District 4 (voters pick 1)


Jay Graney

Nancy Navarro, incumbent council members, first elected in a special election in May 2009

County Council District 5 (voters pick 1)


Kevin Harris

Tom Hucker, incumbent council member, first elected in 2014

Kenge Malikidogo-Fludd, small business owner


Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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