Republican Candidate Flaunts Friendship with Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali During Forum

During a candidate’s forum hosted by the Montgomery County Black Business Council, Republican Candidate Robin Ficker touted his friendship with Civil Rights leaders Rosa Parks and Muhammad Ali.

Ficker boasted his friendships after moderator Deborah Milo asked candidates how they would examine the county’s procurement regulation regime to improve contract opportunities for black businesses.

“Rosa Parks was a friend of mine,” Ficker stated. “They made her sit in the back of the bus and now the [Montgomery County] Council is trying to put us back in the bus. We need to open up Montgomery County and get it moving again that will allow more money for the procurement process. … Muhammad Ali was a friend of mine. He was the most generous person I’ve ever known, and that’s what I’m going to be (as county executive) while being thrifty at the same time.”

Wednesday’s forum allowed candidates to connect with small business leaders to discuss their economic development priorities.

A common theme in questions related to access and opportunities for minority business owners and stakeholders. One question raised was about policies candidates would implement to increase capital for minority businesses.

Montgomery County Councilmembers Roger Berliner and George Leventhal discussed expanding programs approved by the Montgomery County Council.

“The core of my campaign is creating greater shared economic prosperity,” Berliner said. “One of the initiatives that I sponsored that our council passed, that I think will make a difference for black businesses and minority businesses throughout our county, is what’s called the microloan program.”

“I included language in the law created in the Montgomery County Economic Development Corportation that ensured that a substantial focus of that economic development entity would be small and minority businesses,” Leventhal said. “We can do better. We need to assist businesses, get them to understand how to register and how to be certified.”

Councilmember Marc Elrich and former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow stated that county government should do more for minority business owners by raising awareness and mentorship programs.

“I think we need to do a better job of preparing people so they are better able to get loans,” Elrich said. “I think Montgomery County has a reputation of giving our loans to the high end of the economic sphere […] and we don’t do as much on the small businesses end and I think we need to do more.”

“Small businesses are really the backbone of our county,” Krasnow said. “Some of our biggest companies like Marriott started in this county as a small business. I think it’s very important that the county steps up its efforts.”

David Blair, a businessman from Potomac, is in favor of creating partnership with local financial institutions.

“County government can do better by working with the local banks and connect them with the small businesses and providing incentives to lend locally.”

Ficker’s response to the question involved increased property taxes.

“I know, as someone who has run a law office in Montgomery County for many years, that most of the capital for small businesses comes from you,” he said. “In 2008, I put a question on the ballot, in which all of the elected officials opposed, to require a unanimous vote of the County Council for the council to increase your property taxes more than the rate of inflation.”

Del. Bill Frick, who is also running for Montgomery County Executive, was unable to attend the forum because the Maryland General Assembly is currently in session, according to event organizers.

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About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at and on Twitter @mittimegan.


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