District 1 Candidates Square Off in Forum

Eight Democrats tried to differentiate themselves Tuesday night in a forum for District 1 candidates at Somerset Elementary School. Questions covered the gamut of issues that would face Montgomery County Council members.

Issues like:

School overcrowding: “We need to address it as a crisis and make school capacity and school construction a priority in our county’s budget. And that may mean that for the next several years we need to forgo additional services to the county,” said Bill Cook of Bethesda.

Education: “I think that the minute that we start to think that education is not the way out of poverty we start to lose. And I think the reality is we need to invest in our kids every step of the way. … I think it all comes down to we invest in our students or not and in the fight for our students versus greed or development or making more money at the end of the year who are we really banking on, I think it has to be our students,” said Dalbin Osorio of Chevy Chase.

Taxes: “I’ve been around long enough to remember George Bush 1, and ‘Read my lips, no more taxes.’ I’m certainly not going to stand here and say no more taxes. You’ve heard a litany of needs that the county faces in various areas. … I will try as hard as anybody to avoid new taxes, but I’m certainly not going to stand here and say it’s completely out of the question,” said Jim McGee of Bethesda.

District 1 includes Bethesda and follows the Potomac River to include much of Potomac and Poolesville. The race is the most crowded of the five district races for the County Council, drawing the eight Democrats and a Republican. More could join the race because the candidate filing deadline is Feb. 27.

Richard Banach of Chevy Chase, the only Republican filed for the seat, could not attend Tuesday’s forum, said moderator Jeffrey Slavin, who is the mayor of Somerset.

As many as 100 people attended the forum.

The candidates were asked whether they were using the public election fund to finance their campaigns. Some, like Cook, said it was an effort to get money out of politics. Former Kensington mayor Pete Fosselman, however, said the county didn’t have $11 million for a giveaway to political candidates, and the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The other candidates in the race are:

  • Andrew Friedson of Bethesda, a former policy analyst in the Maryland Comptroller’s Office, said he would do a top-to-bottom review of county spending to avoid the “false choices” of providing services and raising taxes.
  • Ana Sol Gutierrez of Chevy Chase, who currently represents District 18 in the House of Delegates. She said traffic is one of the top priority issues affecting the county. People need solutions that will take them from where they live to where they work.
  • Regina “Reggie” Oldak, a tax attorney who lives in Bethesda, said she would not increase the property tax. “It’s not sustainable for municipality or county to rely on one kind of tax. We need to diversify our tax portfolio,” she said.
  • Meredith Wellington of Bethesda, who spent eight years on the Montgomery County Planning Board, said developers would need to pay more of their fair share for libraries, community centers and ball fields. She also said she could turn surface parking lots into parks.
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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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