With signatures, Floreen set to make county executive race a 3-way contest

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Standing outside the offices of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, County Council member Nancy Floreen patted a stack of boxes, which she said contained nearly triple the number of signatures she needs to get on the ballot in the race for county executive.

“We have 20,343 signatures in these four boxes,” she said Monday.

She turned to thank a group of supporters who came along with her to the offices. “This is a really critical time for Montgomery County to come together, not come apart,” said Floreen, who’s insisted her campaign is designed to give voters an alternative to Democrat Marc Elrich and Republican Robin Ficker.

Several people who watched Floreen drop off her signatures said they came out of curiosity. Paul Bessell and his wife said they like Elrich, who, like Floreen, sits on the County Council. They like Floreen as well, but Bessell said he’s not clear on Floreen’s motivation to run.

“We want to hear what’s motivating her,” he said. “Is it business? Is it development?”

Bessell said he’s concerned that Floreen’s run could split the Democratic vote and hand a victory to Ficker. Floreen showed some mild exasperation as she answered the question of whether her run is bolstering the Republican.

“You know, it’s not,” she said. “Mr. Ficker is going to come in in third place, no matter what.”

Ficker is among those who signed one of the petitions to get Floreen on the ballot. He told WTOP her candidacy could generate a more robust debate of the issues.

At Monday’s dropoff, Floreen said she didn’t want to get into details of the campaign. But there have been questions, like the one Bessell asked, about why she left the Democratic Party to run as an independent, and whether her candidacy is backed by businesses.

Asked if Maryland’s attempt to land Amazon’s new headquarters in Montgomery County was a factor in her decision to run, Floreen said, “I certainly think that it’s important that whatever businesses choose to locate here and choose to add to our tax base, that they feel welcomed and that they understand there is a place for them.”

Floreen said she wanted to create a culture in which businesses feel that “they add some value to our community.”

The Montgomery County Board of Elections has 20 days to verify the signatures.

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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