Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, the first Latina ever elected to the Maryland General Assembly, has jumped into the race for Montgomery County Council. Gutierrez, who is serving in her fourth term as a District 18 representative, filed paperwork Monday with the state elections board to run as a candidate in County Council District 1 using public campaign financing.
Several candidates who voted to support public campaign financing in local elections are opting not to use the funding mechanism for their own campaigns, as they run for local office in Montgomery County. Public campaign financing can be used for the first time in 2018 when Montgomery County voters go to the polls to elect a new county executive and a new nine-member County Council.
Taxpayers are paying for a lengthy study that concluded a proposed $15 minimum wage in Montgomery County would lead to fewer jobs, but which businesses participated in the study isn’t being made public.
The Montgomery County business community blasted the majority of the Montgomery County Council for re-introducing a revised $15 minimum wage bill without waiting for a county-ordered economic impact study. “This is a surprise,” said Gigi Godwin, president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. “And it’s disappointing. The County Council couldn’t wait for the county government’s report on the facts. Where’s the public policy process? This is baffling.”
After serving as the Montgomery County Council’s legislative information officer for 11 years, Neil Greenberger began a new job Monday in the Public Information Office of the County Executive. But the County Council will continue to pay his $148,000 salary potentially throughout the 2018 fiscal year. Greenberger is now a Democratic at-large candidate for the County Council he served.
A bill recommending three amendments to Montgomery County’s public campaign finance law was introduced by the County Council Tuesday. The same day state election staff urged Montgomery County candidates to wait until Aug, 1 or later, to submit their applications for public campaign financing.
Ed Amatetti may become the first Republican to qualify for up $125,000 in matching county funds in the 2018 elections. He is running for Montgomery County Council in District 2, the seat now held by Democrat Craig Rice, who is seeking reelection. Amatetti has raised $8,150 in small dollar donations of the $10,000 needed to qualify for the county’s new public campaign financing fund.
Only one of the two women currently serving on Montgomery’s nine-member County Council — Nancy Navarro — is up for re-election next year when four incumbents must vacate their seats because of new term limits. This leaves plenty of opportunity for new female candidates to fill those seats on what has historically been a council dominated by men. So far, three women are running for council seats, and at least two others are considering it. The list is likely to grow longer.
A Democratic candidate seeking public campaign financing in Montgomery’s most competitive County Council District said he will use Crowdpac, an Internet-based crowdfunding platform that draws donors from across the country, to raise money for his campaign. Montgomery’s public campaign finance laws prohibit candidates from accepting campaign contributions from PACs or organized political committees. Fundraising through Crowdpac, however, is permitted, according to the State Board of Elections.
The Montgomery County Council approved an $11 million public campaign financing fund — the first in Maryland — for the 2018 elections when it adopted the county’s $5.4 billion budget for fiscal 2018 last Thursday. Four of the nine councilmembers have already filed to use the fund they set up.