This story was updated Oct. 26 to correct the list of candidates for mayor and council.
Registered voters in the City of Gaithersburg will vote for mayor and two city councilmembers on Nov. 2. All voting will take place at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park.
Early voting was held Oct. 23 and 24. According to Election Clerk Lauren Klinger, 279 votes were cast. She called that number fewer than usual “but not by that much.” Since early voting began, the largest turnout was in 2015 when 426 people voted, she said.
This is the first year that Gaithersburg has mail-in voting.
Mayor Jud Ashman is seeking reelection for the position he has held since 2014. Before that, he was a councilmember from 2007 to 2014. Ashman is the founder and chairperson of the Gaithersburg Book Festival.
On his reelection website and campaign information, he called the redevelopment of the Lakeforest Mall area and racial equity and policing his main issues. He pointed out that Gaithersburg has the lowest tax rate of any of Maryland’s large municipalities and is debt free.
He is being challenged by Stephen Escobar, who is a soldier in the Maryland Army National Guard and the son of immigrants from El Salvador. He listed four issues he would focus on, including employment, support for service members and veterans, smart infrastructure growth and the environment.
There are two seats open on the council as Councilmembers Michael Sesma and Laurie-Anne Sayles opted not to seek reelection. Five people are running for those seats. They are David Belgard, Philip Cook, Yamil Hernandez, Lisa Henderson and Jim McNulty.
David Belgard is General Dynamics Information Technology-Senior Financial Compliance Advisor.
He pointed to the redevelopment of the Lakeforest Mall as a large issue to be addressed. He noted that he supports small businesses, wants to overcome the housing crisis by building for availability and affordability, would like to increase focus on environmental issues and grow participation by residents in the City.
Belgrade is a member of Gaithersburg’s Police Advisory and Community Advisory committees.
There are two seats open on the council as Councilmembers Michael Sesma and Laurie-Anne Sayles opted not to seek reelection. Four people are running for those seats. They are Philip Cook, Yamil Hernandez, Lisa Henderson and Jim McNulty.
Cook is an accountant at Vanda Pharmaceuticals. He is running to make the government more transparent and make sure everyone has a voice.
On his campaign website, he said he would work to conserve trees and green spaces, support small businesses, keep 5G towers out of Gaithersburg, work to create district and at-large seats on the council and work on the redevelopment of the Lakeforest mall area.
Hernandez is chief business officer and cofounder of ExeGi Pharma, LLC.
On his campaign website, Hernandez said he would protect the city’s sustainability, conservation and watershed as Gaithersburg grows. He also would be transparent and work toward modernizing services at city hall.
Henderson is a program director for Montgomery County Government. On her campaign website, she said she would leverage information technology to improve how tax dollars are spent and to forecast the housing needs of seniors and those purchasing their first homes. She favors “forever housing,” which enables first time homebuyers to live out their whole life in that house.
McNulty is creative director at Gigawatt Group.
According to his campaign website, his priorities include helping businesses recover from the pandemic; attracting new jobs that aren’t necessarily related to biotech; creating transportation solutions; increasing mental health services; making government transparent; making responsible environmental decisions and increasing representation for those east of I270.
The candidates held a forum Oct. 7 that was conducted by the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce (GGCC).