Silver Spring CPA Running in Democratic Primary for At-Large Seat on County Council

Michele Riley is running for an at-large seat in the Montgomery County Council race. | Submitted

A 48-year-old CPA is trying to be a business-friendly voice in this year’s Democratic primary for at at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council.

“The county is ready for a pro-business candidate. I am one, that’s the message I’m trying to get across,” said Michele Riley of Silver Spring. “To the extent that the county is ready for something different, I’m ready to be that different person.”

She said her overarching focus would be to make Montgomery County more focused on economic growth and ridding its reputation as unfriendly to business.

“I think as a council, there hasn’t been a particular focus on economic growth or businesses in general. I have the right background,” Riley said.

She doesn’t think there’s been enough attention placed on spending. For example, rather than have bus rapid transit down U.S. 29, a better option would be something like MetroExtra, a bus line with limited stops.

“The BRT on Route 29, running in mixed traffic, should not move forward,” Riley said.

A private sector employee for 20 years, Riley moved to Silver Spring 25 years ago to be a commissioned officer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She spent six years with NOAA; her husband is a civilian employee there. She is now a certified public accountant.

She said she has been involved in her community for several years, and she wanted to help.

“I saw this referendum on term limits as an opportunity to jump in,” Riley said. She isn’t the only one. Democrats will have to pick four from at least 29 candidates to move on to the General Election in November.

Her campaign is financed through the county’s new public election fund, in which candidates can get matching funds from taxpayer dollars if they promise to limit the size of their donations. She hasn’t made the match yet, but she will soon.

Riley said she would like to expand the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp. and give it the tools it needs.

It’s modeled after a similar organization in Fairfax County but Fairfax staffs overseas offices.

“In my work, you do see a lot of good businesses come out of Israel,” Riley said. Montgomery County should have an office there as well.

She has been excited to see what Maryland and the county have done to try to lure Amazon.

“I do think it’s a sea change, in what we have to do to get jobs here,” she said.

It’s not corporate welfare, Riley said. It’s “corporate enticements.”

“I don’t see it as corporate welfare at all. I see it as a reality of how we have to move forward as a region,” she said.

The problem, Riley said, is demographics. Over the next six years, the county is looking at losing $400 million in tax revenue, she said, which is an acknowledgement of retiring Baby Boomers.

“The county knows it’s coming. To me it indicates we need to do something different in terms of tax revenue. … Do we cut or do we try to grow? Do we try to bring in more jobs? My vote would be for more jobs,” Riley said.

And as far as the loss of Discovery, she said it the sale is up to the company because they own the building. However, she said she’d love to see a cybersecurity firm move there.

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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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