Opinion: An Open Letter to Montgomery County Democrats

Marc Elrich
Marc Elrich, the Democratic nominee for Montgomery County executive, at a reception. Photo by Josh Kurtz

An Open Letter to Montgomery County Democrats:

U.S. politics are awash in big money to the point where regular people’s voices are drowned out by dollars from a few influential donors. We have seen the insidious effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision pollute all levels of our government.

In 2014, the Montgomery County Council decided to take concrete steps to reduce the disproportionate influence of money in local politics by enacting a public campaign finance law designed to increase voter participation and reduce the influence of large businesses, PACs and other big-donor contributors. The 2018 election is its first test.

Marc Elrich, the Democratic nominee for Montgomery County executive, opted to run a publicly financed campaign. Individual donations to his campaign cannot exceed $150, with donations from county residents eligible for matching public funds.

Meanwhile, individual donors to Elrich’s opponent, Nancy Floreen, may contribute up to $6,000. The vast majority of her funds come from real estate developers doing business (or seeking to do business) in the county. Floreen resigned from the Democratic Party in July and jumped into the county executive race at the behest of her large-donor benefactors, whose grip on county government is threatened by Elrich’s people-powered campaign.

Elrich has laid out a pragmatic proposal that will address the county’s budget crisis without eliminating programs vital to all Montgomery County residents. He is focused on truly smart growth with targeted planning based on access to cost-effective mass transit, including better bus service. He will ensure that developers pay their fair share. His opponent, on the other hand, would offer developers massive publicly financed incentives that would deprive our schools and infrastructure of adequate funding and put additional stress on an an already stretched budget.

Elrich supports a vibrant business sector, with more support for locally-owned businesses. This approach can help pay for important initiatives, such as universal Pre-K. But he believes development and infrastructure should go forward simultaneously, so that infrastructure doesn’t lag decades behind new development, clogging our roads and schools.

Elrich taught in Montgomery County Public Schools for more than 17 years. He will fight to protect our schools from a loss of services and cuts to capital improvements by putting education ahead of developers’ interests. We fear his opponent will fight to protect the profit margins of her largest donors at the expense of our schools.

It’s people power versus developers’ influence and dollars. And, the contrast in candidates could not be more stark. Marc Elrich is running a people-funded campaign. He won the Democratic nomination in a competitive primary election. His opponent, Floreen, sidestepped the primary, avoided a voter referendum on her candidacy, and cast aside the party that has supported her entire political career.

County Executive Ike Leggett, U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressman Jamie Raskin, along with 30 organizations, all have endorsed Elrich. Hundreds of Montgomery County residents are already voting with their feet and volunteering for Elrich’s campaign. The choice is clear: Marc Elrich should be Montgomery County’s next county executive.

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee

Association of Black Democrats of Montgomery County

Bannockburn Reason for Action

Casa In Action

Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Montgomery County (CAPAD-MC)

The Democratic Club of Leisure World

District 1 Neighbors

Board of the District 16 Democratic Club

District 18 Democratic Caucus

District 19 Democratic Caucus

District 19 Democratic Club

District 20 Democratic Caucus

Do The Most Good Montgomery County

Indivisible Cabin John

Indivisible Montgomery

Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund

J Walkers Action Group

Korean-American Democratic National Organization of the Washington Metropolitan Area (KADNO-WMA)

Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County

Board of LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County

Montgomery County Green Democrats

Montgomery County Young Democrats

Our Revolution Montgomery County

UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO

Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County

 

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