Next Tuesday promises to be a historic day in Montgomery County. Next Tuesday is Election Day. It is the day when citizens begin the process of choosing their leaders for the next four years; it is Primary Day. It is the day that the UpCounty moves from the back seat to the front seat.
Next Tuesday the Republican and Democratic candidates for County Executive, County Council District-2 Germantown, and four At-Large County Council seats will be determined. There are also primaries for the Maryland 6th District Congressional race, the Maryland Governor’s race, and the entire Maryland State Legislature.
If you think of Montgomery County as a car sitting in I-270 traffic, for many years the UpCounty has been sitting in the back seat of that car, making suggestions and asking for the air-conditioning to be turned up and the radio station to be changed. If the UpCounty can elect one or more At-Large Councilmembers with roots in the UpCounty, we can move to the front seat of that car, with a greater impact on the direction and speed as well as easier access to the quality of life controls and the radio station.
It is historic. Not because of who is or isn’t running, but because it will provide the UpCounty — folks in Germantown and Clarksburg, Boyds, and Damascus with the opportunity to elect leaders which will give the UpCounty a larger voice in County affairs.
This opportunity comes thanks to the momentous passage of the Term Limits Referendum in November of 2016. A measure which was supported by more than 70 percent of voters, despite harsh and determined opposition from County leaders currently holding those seats. The measure forced three At-Large seats to be vacated.
At the same time, voters will be electing the first new chief executive of Montgomery County in 12 years. It is the time for voters to choose a new driver for that car that has been sitting in traffic. A new leader will be elected, with new ideas on the direction of the County.
In the 12 years that the County has been under County Executive Ike Leggett’s leadership, the Germantown area, along with Clarksburg has changed dramatically. The UpCounty has changed in ways that might have been inconceivable when Leggett was first elected to lead the County in 2006.
Because of the number of Council seats available to new leaders and the importance of the County Executive seat, this is the UpCounty’s opportunity to break the hold that leaders from Down County have had on the County Council. Next Tuesday’s election is the most important election for the Germantown area since… well EVER.
It is time that the UpCounty moves from the back seat to the front seat.
It is more important to vote in this election than any election ever held in Montgomery County. Germantown Pulse urges all readers to vote. Next Tuesday’s election will change the course of history for Montgomery County. Germantown Pulse urges readers to vote for candidates that will pursue a course that will not just drag the UpCounty along in the same direction as the rest of the County but will ensure that UpCounty residents will have a direct and lasting impact on why the course chosen and where the County is ultimately headed.
For too long, it seems, the UpCounty has been represented by just one member on the County Council. Just one voice reminding Councilmembers that there are well over 130,000 people living here now and they have the same needs as their DownCounty brethren.
For too long, there has been just one person in that car on I-270 suggesting a better route to the destination and requesting the air conditioning be turned up so the folks in the back can enjoy their quality of life.
While the general election is in November, let’s be honest, for Montgomery County, Tuesday is the real Election Day – because in a County which hasn’t elected a Republican candidate to any position in more than 15 years, the primary will be where our next County Executive and At-Large Council Councilmembers will be chosen.
Of course, the task of choosing the next leaders of the County isn’t an easy one, and the political leaders did not assist voters in any way by allowing a wide-open race with 33 Democratic candidates for the four At-Large seats. In total there are 38 candidates for the four At-Large seats on the Council (33 Democrats, four Republicans, one Green Party candidate).
With this many candidates, the margin of victory between the top four vote-getters and the fifth highest vote getter will probably be less than 50 votes. For instance, in the 2014 Democratic primary election for four At-Large with just six candidates — no one earned more than 22 percent of the total 271,946 votes cast in that election. However, it is important to realize that those 271,946 votes were only cast by 68,172 people because every voter chooses four candidates. In an election with 33 candidates, one or two people might garner 20 percent of the votes, and all the other candidates will be lucky to earn more than 10 percent of the votes.
Candidates will take votes from other candidates. One of the four top vote-getters could conceivably earn less than 10,000 votes.
People tend NOT to vote in primary elections, let’s make this year be different in the UpCounty.
Let’s use the general malaise associated with primaries in non-presidential election years to the UpCounty’s advantage. In the 2014 Primary just 16.2 percent of the county’s 630,000 eligible voters cast ballots on Primary Day or during the early voting window. That placed Montgomery dead last among Maryland counties. Four years earlier in 2010 turnout in Montgomery was 18 percent — also last among counties.
In the 2018 Primary voter turnout among UpCounty Democrats is extremely important. Next Tuesday’s election will have a lasting impact on Montgomery County, and the Primary Election is the lynchpin for the UpCounty to gain more than one UpCounty voice on the County Council. If at least one UpCounty candidate is not among four top-vote getters next Tuesday, the opportunity for the UpCounty move from the back seat to the front seat will be squandered.
Voters in the UpCounty need to understand the opportunity at hand. According to statistics from the Montgomery County Board of Elections, the voter rolls from May 2018 show that there are 384,194 registered Democrats in Montgomery County. Four years ago, in what is known as off-year elections (when there is no presidential election) only 68,172 Democrats voted in the 2014 Primary. There are 34,762 registered Democrat voters in Germantown, and 55,565 Democratic votes in the UpCounty areas of Germantown, Clarksburg, Poolesville, Damascus, Boyds, Barnesville, Hyattsville, and Darnestown, according MoCo Board of Elections.
UpCounty voters HAVE to Vote.
Democratic voter turnout doubled in the 2016 Presidential Primary to 131,312 voters. If all 55,565 UpCounty Dems vote for one UpCounty At-Large candidate by next Tuesday, it will still represent 42 percent of the total Democratic voters in the 2016 Primary. The UpCounty can have an impact, but voters have to vote.
Of course, voter turnout is expected to be a bit higher this year because it is a historic election with the County Executive seat on the line, but a majority the UpCounty Democrats show up to vote, it can have a huge impact on the results of the At-Large races. The UpCounty can have an immense impact on the General Election results in November. However, if Germantown-area Democrats don’t vote in the Primary, this opportunity will be wasted. The UpCounty may never get such an opportunity again.
Vote for a candidate that understands the needs of the UpCounty. Vote for a candidate that is frustrated with traffic in the UpCounty. Vote for a candidate that wants to bring jobs and opportunity to the UpCounty. Vote for a candidate that understands that UpCounty students don’t have the same magnet program opportunities that their cohorts in Down County high schools enjoy. Vote for a candidate that drives our inadequate roads and will work to improve them. Vote for a candidate that will work to preserve the beauty of the Agricultural Reserve. Vote for a candidate that tap the breaks when it comes residential development without the surrounding infrastructure in the UpCounty.
There are six UpCounty Democratic candidates for the At-Large spots; among them are Marilyn Balcombe of Germantown, Charles Barkley of Germantown, Neil H. Greenberger of Damascus, Graciela Rivera-Oven of Germantown, Lorna Phillips Forde of Germantown, and Ron Colbert of Damascus.
On the Republican side, one of the four Republican candidates for At-Large Council seats is from the UpCounty; Penny Musser is a resident of Boyds.
It is time that UpCounty issues stopped taking a back seat to Down County issues. It is time for the UpCounty to show its electoral might. This is the greatest opportunity for the UpCounty move into a position of leadership in Montgomery County. It is important for Clarksburg. It is important for Damascus. It is important for Boyds. It is important for Germantown. It is important for all of us in the UpCounty.
Early voting centers are open until from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on Thursday, June 21 and the three UpCounty Early Voting Centers are the Germantown Recreation Center at 18905 Kingsview Road (next to Kingsview Middle School) in Germantown, the Damascus Recreation Center at 25520 Oak Drive in Damascus, and The Activity Center in Bohrer Park at 506 S. Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg.