Mother from ‘Free-Range Kids’ Debate Running for County Council

Danielle Luttenberg Meitiv, at-large candidate for Montgomery County Council | Submitted

The mother of the “free-range kids” has filed the necessary paperwork to run for one of the four Montgomery County Council at-large seats to be decided in 2018.

Danielle Luttenberg Meitiv, a 48-year-old Silver Spring Democrat, said she was running over concerns about her children’s future and the children of Montgomery County, particularly in education, the economy and the environment.

“I don’t see the vision and the courageous leadership to comprehensively meet these challenges,” said Meitiv, a former climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, on Friday.

This would be her first attempt at elected office, she said.

“I know from my personal experience, we can win and get the kind of changes that are good for our families and our kids,” she said.

Meitiv and her husband Alexander faced scrutiny in 2015 by the county’s Child Protective Services when they allowed their two young children to walk home alone from a park. Ultimately cleared, the Meitivs sparked a debate over parental rights and how far agencies should go to protect children.

“We fought back to raise our kids in what we think was the right and responsible way, and we fought back so no one would face the same,” Meitiv said. “We fought back so no families would find themselves in the position that we were in. And we won.”

Both Montgomery County police and Child Protective Services change their policies after the case, she said.

Meitiv said she wanted to see high-quality public education. She wants the county to explore offering free community college education. She wanted to invest in workers, starting with a $15 an hour minimum wage. She also wanted the county to focus more on small- and medium-sized businesses.  The county has offered too many giveaways to larger companies like Marriott International.

She also wanted to look at development thinking long-term. The county too often has allowed buildings to be erected, and then struggled to add infrastructure.

Meitiv is choosing to run using the public election fund, an $11 million pot that candidates can use to leverage their contributions so long as they meet certain criteria and limit the size of their contributions.

“I think it will do a lot to restore people’s confidence in the electoral system,” she said.

At-large candidates must raise $20,000 from 250 qualifying contributions. From that, they can accept as much as $250,000 from the fund. As of Friday, 17 candidates had filed to use the fund, with at least six seeking at-large seats.

“Small-dollar donations really invite people into the process,” Meitiv said.

Primary election day is June 26, 2018.

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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

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


7 Responses to “Mother from ‘Free-Range Kids’ Debate Running for County Council”

  1. On June 2, 2017 at 8:36 pm responded with... #

    Danielle will be a great county councilmember as she is smart, passionate, and a decent, kind human being.

  2. On June 3, 2017 at 1:38 am responded with... #

    No, Child Welfare did not change any policies, on the county or state level, as a result of her involvement with Child Welfare. Maryland state law prohibits children under the age of 8 from being unattended. That law is unchanged. This woman is completely unhinged and should in absolutely no way be of influence to public policy.

    • On June 3, 2017 at 6:18 pm responded with... #

      To the comment above. Under federal law, you can not remove a child from a home unless there is a reason to believe the child is at risk for ‘imminent risk of bodily harm or death’. Playing or walking unsupervised as a cause for removal is unconstitutional and unreasonable, not to mention against federal law Title 42 United States Code section 1983 (which you should read obviously) While child welfare policy does take children without ‘imminent’ harm or sometimes without any crime committed, it is against federal law and it should be challenged in the courts.

    • On June 5, 2017 at 10:09 am responded with... #

      God forbid she should be able to bring her children up the way she wants can’t have that nowadays the state needs to take control.

  3. On June 3, 2017 at 6:09 pm responded with... #

    We need more politicians and elected officials in service who have a first hand experience with the unconstitutional overreach of government into the family homes of America while ignoring human right to determine the medical, religious, and lifestyle choices for our families. If she continues to communicate the devastation of the intrusion of child welfare workers for federal dollar gain the the state and county, then she has my vote all the way up the ladder of politics. Good luck.

  4. On June 5, 2017 at 9:02 pm responded with... #

    I fully support her campaign. Children need to experience independence. I can’t imagine not letting my kids walk to the park at ages 6 and 10! I went to the park by myself all the time as a child, or biked to my friend’s house in first and second grades. Her perspective is a breath of fresh air.

  5. On June 30, 2017 at 8:11 pm responded with... #

    Danielle is a breath of fresh air in local politics. I have found her to be thoughtful, logical and well read. Not to be pushed around. A real thinker this one. Montgomery County will do well to enlist her skills. I wish her luck and thank her for stepping up.

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