Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Montgomery County Board of Elections votes to not follow anyone on social media

Montgomery County Board of Elections
President David A. Naimon

The Montgomery County Board of Elections voted unanimously yesterday to not follow anyone on social media, part of a new social media policy the board passed via that vote. While the board encourages residents, voters and political candidates to follow its accounts on social media, commissioners decided that its own accounts should not follow anyone, and should not "like" social media posts. The board said it made the policy change to emphasize its commitment to free and fair elections, and equal treatment of all candidates and ballot question debates. 

“As a non-partisan organization, the Board must ensure that all candidates, political parties and voters are treated fairly and that no candidate or supporter or opponent of a ballot question receives or is perceived to receive preferential treatment,” Board President David A. Naimon said in a statement after the vote. “The mission of the Board is simple - - free, fair, and transparent elections for all candidates and voters.”

For official information about the 2024 elections, including how to register to vote and/or volunteer to serve as an election worker, follow the Montgomery County Board of Elections on X at @777vote (, on Facebook at, or on Instagram at Information also continues to be available on the BOE website at, and by phone at 240-777-8500.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Robin Ficker announces first TV ad buy

Robin Ficker
, a Republican candidate for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Ben Cardin (D), is hitting the airwaves for the first time in the 2024 election season, his campaign announced yesterday. Entitled, "Logic," the ad will first air in the Baltimore and Salisbury television markets. The ad will continue to run on TV through Christmas, Ficker campaign manager Dean Cavaretta said in a statement. 

"I’ve had a lot of political success at the grassroots level, and now I am looking to turn this into a successful campaign," said Ficker, who was previously elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in the 1970s. "That’s why I am running a serious, professional campaign to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate." 

Ficker, a resident of Montgomery County, is currently the only prominent GOP candidate with statewide name recognition in the race. Retired Brigadier General John Teichert, an Air Force veteran who resides in Anne Arundel County, told Maryland Matters last month that he would be entering the contest. Maryland Matters reports that Cecil County Delegate Kevin Hornberger is also mulling a run for the GOP nomination, but that he is giving himself until December 31 to make his decision.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Rockville election results: Monique Ashton elected Mayor; Van Grack, Jackson, Myles upend Rockville United slate sweep

Rockville Mayor-Elect Monique Ashton

Rockville election results unofficially show Monique Ashton has been elected to serve as the city's next mayor. Ashton's full Rockville United slate was slightly less successful, as voters chose Barry Jackson, incumbent Dr. David Myles, and Adam Van Grack over slate member Paul Scott. Rockville United slate members Kate Fulton, Izola Shaw, and Marissa Valeri were victorious, however, giving Ashton a potential 4-3 working majority on any issue the slate members have consensus on. 

Rockville voters spoke loudly and clearly on a series of controversial ballot questions, overwhelmingly opposing allowing non-citizens to vote in City elections, electing councilmembers by districts rather than At-Large, and allowing residents as young as 16 to vote in City elections. Term limits, by contrast, were a winning proposal for the low-turnout electorate; the mayor and council could be limited to 3 terms in the future, should Ashton and the Council enact the non-binding term limits initiative approved by a whopping 74% of voters yesterday. 

Ashton will be the City's first mayor of color when she takes the oath of office at an inauguration ceremony for the new Mayor and Council at 1:00 PM on Sunday, November 19, 2023 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, located at 603 Edmonston Drive. The public is invited to attend the ceremony. She defeated long-serving Councilmember Mark Pierzchala by an unofficial margin of 58.71% to 40.88%. 

Voters likely took note of Ashton's very active term on the City Council. At a time when Rockville businesses were struggling during the pandemic, Ashton was highly-visible and engaged in public events and business ribbon-cuttings where other elected officials were often missing. And while her election is historic for the City - in contrast to some politicians - she did not make breaking that racial barrier a focus of her campaign, instead making her case to voters solely on her record and vision for the future of Rockville.

Incumbent Councilmember Dr. David Myles rivaled Bill Clinton as the "Comeback Kid" of last night's contest. Despite a stellar personal resume as a physician and U.S. Navy veteran, Myles' political career teetered this fall when an alleged episode of domestic violence resulted in his arrest, and the arrest of his wife. Both were initially charged in the case. The ensuing TV news coverage raised sincere concerns among advocates for victims of domestic violence, but was also seized upon by some who disfavored his reelection. 

While there were calls for Myles to end his campaign, Rockville City police officers cited his wife as the "primary aggressor" in the incident, and the assault charge against him was eventually dropped. Myles briefly reignited the controversy by making an introductory statement on a domestic violence-related Mayor and Council agenda item a few weeks after the incident. A few of his colleagues, and some residents attending that meeting, denounced Myles' remarks shortly after they were delivered, stating that he was not to have been the councilmember to introduce the resolution. It was unclear how Myles gained the floor to speak, if that had been decided beforehand.

Although it would be considered a serious political error by most people to have engaged in the topic of domestic violence at a time when he was being told by many to step aside, Myles' remarks were touching on a legitimate topic: abuse or violence against men by their spouse or partner. It is a matter that often receives little attention in the discussion of domestic violence. Myles' reelection - and the dropping of the charge - give him some level of public vindication, as well as four years in which to try to put the episode behind him with new political accomplishments.

Fulton, Jackson, Valeri and Van Grack scored convincing victories through name recognition from their active participation in the community over the years. Jackson and Van Grack were able to prevail over the Rockville United slate by combining that with a tremendous amount of old-fashioned hard work in their campaigns over the summer. Both corralled lengthy lists of prominent endorsers, with names that could boost a campaign. Van Grack ran what was arguably the most sophisticated and media-savvy campaign of all the contenders, and it paid off at the polls, as he received the second-highest vote total of the five elected to the City Council. Shaw put together a compelling progressive message, and rode that ideological lane to victory.

Despite the controversial ballot questions, turnout remained low in the 2023 City election. One reason for this may have been the lack of clear contrasts on development issues in the race. For example, only Pierzchala and Council candidate Anita Neal Powell stated that they opposed the construction of multifamily housing in single-family-home neighborhoods. Both lost.

The consensus of so many candidates in favor of such a contentious proposal suggests a sea change in city politics. Ashton follows two strong-willed mayors who will be remembered for blocking - at least temporarily - urbanization plans that would have upended the city's suburban character and decimated its booming Rockville Pike retail sector. Newton and the late Phyllis Marcuccio pulled out all the stops to appoint Rockville Planning commissioners who represented the interests of residents, as opposed to the developer-beholden Montgomery County Planning Board. Developers came back again and again with attempts to water down infrastructure requirements, and sometimes won with this battering ram approach. But the city's character held, and Herculean efforts by Marcuccio and Newton saved neighborhoods and the Rockville Pike shopping corridor that is the highest generator of commercial revenue in - and for - the state of Maryland.

As such, Ashton's future nominees to the Planning Commission will be awaited with great interest. Her level of commitment - and that of her new colleagues - to a Thrive 2050-style bulldozing of single-family-home neighborhoods like Twinbrook and Hungerford will also be closely monitored. In her previous campaign as an ally of Newton, and in her time on the Council over the last four years, Ashton has appeared to favor responsible growth policies. If she can maintain that, and play 4-D chess with Planning Commission appointments like her two immediate predecessors, Ashton will join them in being remembered for defending the interests of residents, under enormous pressure from builders of multifamily housing and the media outlets they control.

Still, in the short term, there's a sense that advocates of responsible growth have temporarily and unexpectedly ceded the political stage in Rockville. A sense that people who should have run in this election - with its many open seats - didn't. The hyperventilation and overeager campaigning by developer-controlled media outlets like Greater Greater Washington bordered on the comical in this election, as a result. All the articles, endorsements, and region-wide social media mistargeting were largely a waste of time and energy. There was no contest on the next major development issues in this election. Just as Pierzchala and Powell were the only candidates who told GGW that they opposed Thrive 2050-style upzoning of neighborhoods, Richard Gottfried was the only person running who had taken an outspoken public stance in favor of responsible growth in the past. He, too, lost. But even if all three had won, they would not have been able to form a majority on certain growth issues.

So, maintaining the character of Rockville will be a serious challenge in the upcoming Mayor and Council term. Other challenges will include the struggles of businesses and the empty storefronts of Rockville Town Center, a persistent spike in crime, and a lack of civic participation in elections. The first meeting of the new Mayor and Council will be held on Monday, November 20, 2023 at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Maryland Governor Wes Moore visits AstraZeneca lab in Montgomery County

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) traveled to Gaithersburg to visit the AstraZeneca laboratory, and to make a big announcement. AstraZeneca is one of the largest biotech employers in Montgomery County and Maryland, and is located in the I-270 life sciences corridor. Moore chose the location to announce a new partnership between the Maryland Tech Council's Biohub Maryland initiative and Ireland's National Institute of Bioprocessing Research and Training. Ireland is one of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical manufacturing countries in the world, and the agreement makes Biohub Maryland NIBRT's exclusive partner in the Washington, D.C. region.

Moore toured the complex, and greeted AstraZeneca employees and biotech leaders. At one point, the governor donned a white lab coat and safety glasses to enter an actual laboratory in the facility. “Today, we’re not just here to celebrate this new BioHub partnership. We’re here to celebrate a new direction for Maryland’s economy and workforce,” Moore said. “We are ready to win. We are ready to grow and we are ready to show the entire country what we’re made of.”

Photos courtesy Maryland Governor's office

Monday, November 6, 2023

Montgomery County government allowing Moses African Cemetery to be a dumping ground for trash (Photos)

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition is again bringing attention to the illegal dumping of trash on the grounds of the already-desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda. Both parcels of the hidden cemetery are currently owned by Montgomery County government entities: the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County, and the Montgomery Parks department. BACC is speaking out about trash recently dumped on the parcel owned by Montgomery Parks, including rolls of toilet paper, mattresses and discarded furniture. "The continued use of Moses Cemetery as a dumping ground by Montgomery County residents is a disturbing display of white supremacy and anti-Black racism, all with full backing and support from county officials," BACC said in a statement today. 

Moses African Cemetery, where former slaves of nearby plantations - and residents of the post-Civil War Black community on River Road that was wiped out by developers by the 1960s - are interred, was first desecrated during the construction of the Westwood Tower apartment building in the late 1960s. Montgomery County officials looked the other way, and did not step in or penalize those responsible then, or now. Officials of BACC and Macedonia Baptist Church in Bethesda continue to ask the County to turn over ownership and control of the cemetery land and its graves to the descendant community. BACC notes that surveillance cameras and security guards have been used to block access to the cemetery by Black descendants, but that they are not used to stop the illegal dumping on the gravesites.

"The tools of the state are targeted towards Black people, never the real criminals - the desecrators," BACC said in its Monday statement. "The County has proven unable to provide our ancestors a peaceful rest, and have instead spent the past few decades destroying any remnants of the Black community our ancestors built on River Road...We will not rest until Moses Cemetery is ours." 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Black People's March on the White House this Saturday, Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C.

The 15th annual Black People's March on the White House will be held tomorrow, Saturday, November 4, 2023 in Washington, D.C. It will begin with a rally at Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill Park) at 16th Street and W Street N.W. at 11:00 AM. Attendees will then march to toward the White House, and a second rally at Lafayette Square Park. A pre-march event - where signs will be made, chants practiced, and you will have a chance to meet some of Saturday's speakers - will be held tonight, Friday, November 3 at 6:00 PM at the Thurgood Marshall Center at 1816 12th Street NW Washington, DC 20009.

Speakers will include Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, President of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition; broadcaster Garland Nixon; African People's Socialist Party Chair Omali Yeshitela; WPFW-FM Program Director Katea Stitt; Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition Chair Mwezi Odom; artist Yulong Jones of the International Women's Alliance; John McCarthy of the Center for Political Innovation; and a recorded message from Mumia Abu-Jamal. Cultural performances will feature Luci Murphy, Shirmina Geneva, and the Malcolm X Drummers. 

This year's march is being co-sponsored by the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, and the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Fightback Committee. Registration for the march is available online

Dan Cox, endorsed by Donald Trump in 2022, enters Maryland 6th District race for U.S. Congress

Dan Cox, alongside wife Valerie,
announces his run for the open Congressional
seat in Maryland's 6th District

After several months of deliberation, former Maryland state delegate Dan Cox has officially entered the Republican race for U.S. Congress in the 6th Congressional District. Cox enters the race with the highest statewide name recognition of any candidate in any party in the race, thanks to his 2022 run for governor, and his high-profile legal action against former governor Larry Hogan's pandemic restrictions and lockdown. The Frederick attorney gained national attention when his gubernatorial campaign was endorsed by President Donald Trump.

Cox's entry closely follows the announcement by Democrat April McLain Delaney that she, too, is seeking the seat being vacated by David Trone, who is running for U.S. Senate. Delaney's husband, John, held the seat before Trone. April Delaney has had her own lengthy career in the federal and nonprofit sectors. Cox and Delaney immediately became the biggest names in the race upon announcing their candidacies. 

"We as a nation are facing challenges like other times in American history," Cox said in a speech announcing his entry into the race. "The decisions made in the halls of Washington, D.C. will genuinely impact our individual freedom, our families, businesses, our jobs, and schools." In his announcement, Cox highlighted several issues he will focus on in his campaign: immigration, the fentanyl overdose epidemic, America's more than $30 trillion in debt, and protecting Constitutional freedoms. Acknowledging the wealth the Delaneys have brought to past campaigns, Cox said he expects to compete against "well funded opponents."

The race may be closer than it will look on the campaign account ledgers. Delaney will have plenty of campaign cash, but the haul also comes with John Delaney's baggage. Many in Maryland's 6th District had the experience of their homes or farms being foreclosed on by the bank during the "Great Recession" of 2008. They'll likely want to know more about John Delaney's ties to Aeon Financial, a debt-collecting firm with an "extra-vicious business model," that aggressively foreclosed on homeowners during that financial crisis. Over 1000 of those foreclosures were in Maryland. Delaney's CapitalSource bank loaned Aeon $30 million in 2009, but the congressman denied he was aware of the expenditure - - despite being the CEO of the company at the time.

After its initial probe into Aeon and Delaney's connection to it, The Washington Post - whose editorial board strongly supported John Delaney over the years - mysteriously avoided the topic when covering Delaney's White House run in 2019. Cox could find success reminding voters of the Aeon scandal and Forbes magazine's branding of John Delaney as a "loan shark" in the largely working-and-middle-class 6th District. For that matter, so might some of April Delaney's Democratic primary opponents. 

Will Trump again endorse Cox in this race? That will be more of a question for the GOP primary, as former Washington County state delegate Neil Parrott makes his third run for Trone's seat, after coming surprisingly close to defeating the Total Wine founder in the 2022 Congressional race.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Hate crime report filed with USDOJ regarding desecrated Montgomery County cemetery

A protest of a Democratic Party fundraiser in Potomac this past weekend by advocates for the desecrated Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda has borne political fruit. The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition announced today that it has filed a hate crime report with the U.S. Department of Justice, as advised by U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin (D - 8th District). Raskin, who along with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore was one of the targets of the protest at the Saturday event, has told the BACC that he will follow up with the DOJ to "ensure the report is reviewed," the organization claimed in a statement. 

Moses African Cemetery, located largely on the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda, was first desecrated in the late 1960s by workers building the apartment tower. The rest of the graves were paved over for a parking lot, and the matter was covered up by Montgomery County officials for decades. A potential sale of the Westwood Tower property, including the graveyard, by owner Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County is stalled in a legal battle that is now moving to the Maryland Supreme Court. BACC has alleged that the HOC violated Maryland law by entering a sale agreement of a burial site without contacting the descendants of those interred there.

Over 200 bone fragments from a construction site directly adjacent to the cemetery have been trucked to a warehouse in Virginia over objections by the BACC, which has asked the private developer and County officials to allow their independent expert to examine them. Neither has agreed to date to allow the review.

"The report provides a detailed overview of the desecration of Moses, detailing the crimes, the criminals, and their accomplices," BACC said in today's statement. "Despite years of advocacy and appeals by BACC and our legal team to end the pillaging of funerary objects, tombstones, and possible human remains, we have seen no action from local officials. As we have documented and shared with the public, it is clear that many of these officials are themselves deeply involved in this hate crime and subsequent cover-up. They have been named in the report.

"BACC will continue to demand the return of all funerary objects, possible human remains (for independent testing by Dr. Michael Blakey), and ultimately the return of Moses Cemetery to the descendant community for proper stewardship. The county and the developers it has provided permits to (which they have failed to comply with) should not be responsible for our ancestors, whom they have dug up and disrespected time and time again."

A series of rallies outside the U.S. Department of Justice are being planned by BACC. The organization is hopeful that the report they have filed will result in a long-sought federal investigation into the known crimes and alleged crimes that have taken place at the historic Black cemetery over the last six decades. Maryland's Supreme Court is expected to take up the BACC's case against the HOC in January.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition to protest Maryland governor, congressman at Potomac fundraiser

BACC President Marsha Coleman-Adebayo at
a 2017 protest regarding Moses African Cemetery

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition will protest outside a Maryland Democratic Party fundraiser in Potomac today, an event Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) and Congressman Jamie Raskin (D - 8th District) are expected to attend. Leaders of the BACC are demanding Moore and Raskin take action to end the desecration of the Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda, and force the release the over 200 bone fragments that were exhumed on a construction site adjacent to the graveyard for testing, to determine if they are human remains. Those remains were trucked out of state to a Virginia warehouse, and neither Montgomery County nor the private developer of the site has agreed to make them available for independent testing. Raskin visited the graveyard site in-person, and was asked to act at the federal level to address the cemetery issues, but later said he would defer to Montgomery County officials on the matter and ceased correspondence with BACC.

Today's protest will take place between 12:15 and 2:30 PM outside 9400 Persimmon Tree Road in Potomac. This appears to be a private mansion. According to the website of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, the "Afternoon of Elegance" event will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 PM today.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Maryland Governor Wes Moore endorses Angela Alsobrooks in U.S. Senate race

Maryland Democrats suddenly have a barnburner of a primary race on their hands in the U.S. Senate race to replace retiring Senator Ben Cardin in the 2024 election. Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks' candidacy got a twin jolt of energy when primary opponent Will Jawando dropped out of the race and endorsed her, and Maryland Governor Wes Moore unexpectedly weighed in on the contest in her favor. Moore appeared free to move once Jawando, a friend, ended his campaign. But Moore's endorsement of Alsobrooks is a risky political move, as Alsobrooks' top rival David Trone is a wealthy fundraiser who counts former president Barack Obama among his political allies.

Trone not only handily funds his own campaigns with his Total Wine fortune, but is a powerhouse fundraiser for Democrats nationally, including Obama. He has hosted Obama for fundraisers at his Montgomery County home in the past. But Obama endorsed Moore in his successful 2022 gubernatorial campaign, and Moore's name entered the 2028 presidential race discussion before he had even been sworn in as Maryland's first Black governor in January. Along with Moore's central casting persona, and stellar resume, the fallout for the rookie governor may be minimal.

The Moore and Jawando tag-team endorsement has potentially united the Black vote in the race behind Alsobrooks. She leads the second-wealthiest majority-Black jurisdiction in the nation, and the wealthiest - Charles County - is also in Maryland. The Black vote is critical to victory in the state, although that didn't help Donna Edwards in her U.S. Senate race against eventual winner Chris Van Hollen. Trone is popular among independents, and among the growing number of Republicans who switch to the Democratic party for primary elections in Maryland. Even many conservatives respect his business acumen and success.

Former state legislator Robin Ficker is the only current Republican candidate in the race with any statewide name recognition. Former Gov. Larry Hogan was well-positioned to run - and had an outside chance to win. But he chose to focus on a potential presidential campaign instead, and remains among those rumored to be under consideration for the No Labels independent ticket, should it materialize next year. Fantasy GOP candidates like Cal Ripken and Pat Sajak have shown no interest in running, and the Republican farm team is virtually non-existent. The absence of a prominent MAGA Republican candidate in the race means there is a wide lane open for a Hogan-style moderate GOP candidate to enter the race.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Will Jawando ends campaign for Maryland U.S. Senate seat

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D - At-Large) announced this morning that he is ending his campaign for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D), who will retire in January 2025. In a statement released by his campaign, Jawando said that "after a lot of thought and prayer and late nights with my wife Michele, I’ve decided that it’s time to take a step back from the race. Not because we believe any less in the cause that started it. The fights we talked about in this campaign are and always will be the fights of my life. But after thinking long and hard about this race in particular, I frankly no longer see a path for myself to victory. And because I have so much respect for my loyal supporters, my constituents in Montgomery County, and my loving wife and children, I cannot remain in a race I do not believe I can win."

Jawando's exit is disappointing for progressive voters who supported his campaign. "I am sorry for those who will find this news disappointing – believe me, I am also disappointed," Jawando said. To his supporters, and the local and state-level elected officials who endorsed him, the councilman said, "I am so proud to have earned your support. I look forward to fighting alongside you each and every day. Thank you again to every supporter of my campaign, it truly means the world to me that you believed in me, my message, and our vision."

Barring a late entry by Congressman Jamie Raskin or another established progressive candidate, Jawando's exit is most likely to benefit Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. While many - including a few journalists - have questioned Alsobrooks' progressive bonafides based on her law enforcement record, she is still considered to stand to the left of her biggest rival, Congressman David Trone (D - 6th District). Police reform and transparency were niche issues for Jawando in the race, and those will likely fade into the background now that neither Trone nor Alsobrooks are likely to raise them going forward. 

While Jawando is folding his Senate campaign, he assured supporters he won't be stepping away from politics. "I am not going anywhere!" he said. "I will continue serving the people of Maryland no matter what." Some observers have theorized that, should a referendum barring Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) from seeking a third term appear on the 2024 ballot and pass, Jawando might be a candidate for that top County office in 2026. An open executive seat is likely to be pursued by Jawando, Councilmember Evan Glass (D - At-Large), and Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D - District 1), among other notable Democrats. As Jawando signed off in his statement today, "This is not the end – it is only the beginning."

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Will Jawando gives auto workers "full support" as strike spreads to Maryland, Kentucky

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D - At-Large), a candidate for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Senator Ben Cardin (D), has issued a statement supporting auto workers as the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike expands to plants in Maryland and Kentucky. Workers at the Mack Trucks facility in Hagerstown, Maryland have walked off the job, and UAW members did the same at a key Ford truck manufacturing plant in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday. The strike is now in its fourth week, as America's three largest auto manufacturers continue to resist meeting union demands, despite earning massive profits through price gouging since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020.

"Maryland’s autoworkers are joining their brothers and sisters at the UAW and rejecting an unfair deal," Jawando said in his statement. "They have my full support, and I’m proud of their efforts. 

"We’re seeing what a strong labor movement looks like -- and what it can accomplish. From teachers to nurses, writers, custodians, and hotel employees, workers are showing the power of solidarity. They’ve secured better wages and benefits, protections against discrimination, and more.

"Labor and unions need our support, now more than ever. While CEOs are bringing in record profits, workers are feeling the pressure of rising costs and stagnant wages. Fixing that imbalance isn’t just good policy: it’s a moral need. 

"On the County Council, I’ve made economic justice a priority and fought for better wages and a fairer tax code. We need an advocate for those issues in the US Senate, and that’s why I’m in this race.

"I stand with the labor movement fighting for better conditions for working people. I think the rich have enough representation in our government."

"Put me in the ring," Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Robin Ficker says in first digital ad

Robin Ficker
, a 2024 Republican candidate for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of retiring Senator Ben Cardin (D), has released the first digital ad of his campaign. "Put me in the ring" features the former state legislator in the square circle, in scenes around the state, and showing off a few boxing moves at the end. Issues highlighted in the ad include failing schools, rising crime, and the fact that "good jobs are not coming to Maryland," as Governor Wes Moore (D) recently admitted in a speech in which he warned that the state does not currently have sufficient economic growth or revenue to support the agenda he would like to implement.

Ficker's ad also recalls his friendship with boxing legend Muhammed Ali, who taught him to "use my voice for good, and never give up." He offers his record of successful ballot questions to limit tax increases, and the number of terms Montgomery County elected officials can serve, as concrete examples of that. After castigating the establishment leaders of both major parties, Ficker concludes the ad by saying, "Put me in the ring, Maryland, and I'll be your champion."

By far the candidate with the most statewide name recognition to enter the GOP primary race to date, Ficker says the new ad will be the first in a series. "I served in the United States Army and the Maryland Legislature," the Boyds resident said in a statement. "I trained with Muhammed Ali. I marched for freedom with Dr. MLK Jr.. I’ve defended thousands of men, women, and children in court. I’ve been a small business owner, and Marylanders have cast 2.5 million votes for my referenda to term limit politicians and cap tax increases. People know me as a fighter. I am all Maryland, all the time. It’s time Maryland had a fighter in their corner in the United States Senate to restore logic to government. Put me in the ring, Maryland!"

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Barry Jackson receives endorsements of 13 local officials in Rockville City Council race

Barry Jackson
, a candidate for the Rockville City Council in the November election and President of the King Farm Citizens Assembly, has received the endorsements of several current and former elected officials. His campaign announced the support of Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, Montgomery County Councilmember and former Gaithersburg mayor Sid Katz, Gaithersburg City Councilmember Robert Wu, and Maryland State Delegate Joe Vogel (D - District 17) yesterday. "Having worked with Barry in his capacity as President of the KFCA, I support his candidacy for City Council," Newton said in a statement Wednesday. "Barry brings leadership experience and a new perspective - and he'll work to make our City safer and more equitable for all."

Former elected officials endorsing Jackson include past Rockville mayors Susan Hoffmann and Steven Van Grack; former Rockville City Councilmembers John Britton, Piotr Gajewski, Tom Moore and Bob Wright; and former Kensington mayor Pete Fosselman. "Barry is inclusive, he listens, and he fights for his community but is not abrasive," Hoffmann said Wednesday. "He will fight for you." Jackson also has backing from prominent community members, including peace activist Jeni Stepanek, former Senior Citizens Commission chair Anne Herbster, and KFCA board member Matt Roh.

“I am honored to have the support of so many local leaders," Jackson said in a statement. "Their support reflects their confidence in my experience and ability to bring real, positive change to Rockville’s City Council."

Photo courtesy Committee to Elect Barry Jackson

Friday, September 29, 2023

Montgomery County legalizes tunnel greenhouses on urban, suburban lots to boost small farming production

Montgomery County's Department of Permitting Services has removed a prohibition on the erection of high tunnel greenhouses on urban and suburban lots, in an effort to increase food production by small farmers in those areas. Previously, the structures were only permitted on land zoned as agricultural. Constructed of metal frames and clear plastic coverings, the greenhouses trap heat to extend the growing season, and block access to plants by pests. Interested applicants in urban and suburban areas must submit to the DPS a certificate showing that the high tunnel proposal has been reviewed by the Montgomery Soil Conservation District and the Office of Agriculture, to ensure that it will comply with sediment and erosion control, stormwater management, zoning, and any local HOA requirements. 

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich

"Ag growers who are Black, indigenous or people of color often operate on properties with fewer than three acres of land, so this policy change was made to increase racial equity," County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement. "This policy change also is expected to increase local food production, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions from long-distance food transport on our roads and increase urban access to healthy and nutritious food. I thank the local grower who advocated for change and the Office of Agriculture and Department of Permitting Services for implementing the new policy."

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Bethesda Black cemetery advocates deliver "bones" to Montgomery County Executive

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coaltion made good on its promise to take a symbolic action at a budget forum hosted by Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich last night at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center. Prop "bones" were dropped onto the floor in front of Elrich's podium, representing the more than 200 real bones that were excavated from a self-storage construction site on River Road behind the McDonald's in Bethesda, and trucked away to a Virginia warehouse without allowing independent testing by BACC's expert to determine if they are human or animal remains. The excavation site is directly adjacent to the desecrated Moses African Cemetery.

"Mr. Elrich has not lifted a finger to ensure proper testing is conducted," BACC said in a statement today. "Instead, he slandered Dr Marsha Adebayo, President of BACC, publicly calling her a liar during yesterday's meeting when she spoke about the remains and demanded the return of the bones to the descendant community. By continuing to deny the racism, criminal actions, and disregard for the Black community on River Road by the developers and county agencies, Mr. Elrich has chosen to stand on the side of white supremacy. We will continue to protest at events held by Mr. Elrich until he meets the demands of BACC and/or steps down."

Hans Riemer endorses Will Jawando in Maryland U.S. Senate race

Former Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer has endorsed current Councilmember Will Jawando in the Maryland U.S. Senate race for the seat of retiring Senator Ben Cardin (D). Jawando and Riemer served together on the Council from 2018 to 2022; Jawando is now in his second Council term. "In my many years of knowing Will Jawando, going back to our work together supporting President Obama, and my four years serving side-by-side with him on the Montgomery County Council, I have always been impressed by his devotion to public service and dedication to meeting the needs of his most vulnerable constituents," Riemer said in a statement this afternoon.

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of my friend and former colleague @HansRiemer," Jawando tweeted in announcing Riemer's support. "Hans has spent his career fighting for so many of the same priorities my campaign is centered upon. I look forward to working with him on delivering for the state of Maryland."

Photo courtesy Will Jawando for U.S. Senate

Maryland AG rules Montgomery County cannot ban police from making traffic stops

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown has ruled that the Montgomery County Council does not have the legal authority to pass a law that would prevent police from making traffic stops for minor offenses. Council President Evan Glass sought an opinion from Brown in regards to legality of the proposed STEP Act (Council Bill 12-23). Introduced by Councilmember Will Jawando, and co-sponsored by Councilmember Kristin Mink, the bill would ban police from making traffic stops for offenses such as a defective headlight or tinted windows. 

Brown's finding, issued in a September 15, 2023 memo to Glass, is that Maryland vehicle law preempts any County law regarding traffic stops. However, Brown advised Glass that another STEP Act provision, which would ban police from seeking consent to search a vehicle unless there is "reasonable suspicion" that a crime has been committed, would be permissible because Maryland vehicle law "does not address the subject of searches during traffic stops."

The STEP Act is one of several criminal justice reforms introduced or steered to passage by Jawando in his two terms on the Council. Those initiatives have been highlighted during his current campaign for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D), who is retiring after his term ends. In advocating for the STEP Act, Jawando argued that change was necessary to reduce the outsize impact of traffic stops on drivers of color. 

One group that advocated for both of the STEP Act provisions in question, the Decriminalize Montgomery County Coalition, said in a statement that its members are "disappointed" in Brown's ruling on the traffic stop question. It urges the Council to move forward on passage of the provision on consent searches of vehicles, and the Maryland General Assembly to update the state's vehicle law to allow localities to ban traffic stops for minor offenses.

"The Decriminalize Montgomery County coalition is deeply concerned that [Brown's] opinion poses an obstruction to racial justice," the organization said. "The STEP Act was introduced to reduce racial disparities in traffic stops. In fact, the opinion correctly acknowledges that police disproportionately stop Black and brown drivers compared to other drivers. Drivers of color are frequently stopped for minor offenses, such as a broken taillight or an expired registration, even though these violations do not threaten public safety. These stops often end up turning into consent searches so that police can search vehicles for drugs, and can escalate into emotional and physical harm. They are fundamental problems that still need to be addressed. Stopping consent searches is a step towards that end, but the best way to reduce police harm is to ensure that the stop does not happen at all." 

Organizations that are part of the DMC coalition supporting the STEP Act include Young People for Progress (YPP), the Silver Spring Justice Coalition (SSJC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, and Jews United for Justice (JUFJ).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Adam Van Grack endorsed by District 17 Senator Kagan, Delegates Spiegel & Vogel in Rockville City Council race

Delegate Ryan Spiegel

Adam Van Grack
, a candidate for Rockville City Council, has added to his lengthy list of endorsements from area elected officials. Newly-appointed Maryland State Delegate Ryan Spiegel (D) has joined his District 17 delegation colleagues Senator Cheryl Kagan (D) and Delegate Joe Vogel (D) in backing Van Grack in the race. "Adam Van Grack has been an active member in the Rockville legal community for many years," Spiegel said in a statement. “He has the expertise and experience to excel on the Rockville City Council, and he is the type of leader who I know can get big things done. I am proud to endorse Adam Van Grack for Rockville City Council and urge you to join me in supporting him."

State Senator Cheryl Kagan

"Delegate Spiegel has set the standard for effective local leadership and I’m proud to have his support in this race," Van Grack said. "During his time on the Gaithersburg City Council, Delegate Spiegel was an effective voice who listened and delivered results not just for Gaithersburg but for all Marylanders. As a member of the Maryland legislature, I have no doubts that he will continue to benefit from his leadership and I look forward to working with him and our District 17 delegation to deliver results for Rockville, District 17, and our state."

Delegate Joe Vogel

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood endorses Will Jawando for Maryland U.S. Senate seat

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando's latest endorsement for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat of Ben Cardin (D) comes from a federal lawmaker already on Capitol Hill. Illinois Congresswoman Lauren Underwood announced this morning that she is backing Jawando over his leading opponents in the Democratic primary, Congressman David Trone and Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. "I am excited to announce my support of Will Jawando for the United States Senate," Underwood said in a statement. "For nearly two decades, Will has been a mentor and friend. He's a tremendous leader who cares deeply about the lives and well-being of all Maryland residents. Will is an effective, disciplined, and inspiring legislator who is prepared for the challenges ahead. I am proud to endorse him."

A registered nurse, Underwood gained national attention by winning a Republican seat once held by Congressman Randy Hultgren and the disgraced former House speaker, convicted child molester Dennis Hastert. Underwood has the 16th-most-liberal voting record in the U.S. House according to VoteView, likely a winning data point with Jawando, who is positioning himself as the true progressive in the Senate race.

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of Congresswoman Lauren Underwood," Jawando said in a statement. "She is in the top echelon of our nation’s public servants and tirelessly fights for her constituents. I have had the honor of knowing the Congresswoman for many years and know her to be a tireless leader for Illinois."