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More Women Come Forward to Seek Montgomery Co. Council Seats

As women’s groups push to increase their representation on the Montgomery County Council, where only one of nine members is currently female, two women in recent days have come forward to run for council seats in 2022.

Natali Fani-González (D), the vice chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board, threw her hat into the ring for the vacant 4th District seat late last month, with a string of prominent endorsements, including former state Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D), the first Latina to serve in the General Assembly. She is seeking to replace Councilmember Nancy Navarro (D), the council’s lone woman, who is term-limited.

“This pandemic has proven that we are stronger when we work together and look out for each other,” González said in a statement on her campaign website. “Our future is brighter when we commit to unprecedented climate action and the creation of good jobs that make our Montgomery County stronger. A healthier and more prosperous Montgomery County for all families is possible. We just need to intentionally choose it.”

González has served on the powerful planning board — where she is the first Latino commissioner — since late 2014. She was appointed to the seat by the county council shortly after losing a bid for a District 18 House seat in the Democratic primary.

The 4th District as currently drawn roughly stretches up Georgia Avenue from Wheaton to the Howard County line, though its contours could change as the county will add two additional council districts for the 2022 election. Other Democrats are expected to join González in the primary.

Meanwhile, Kristin Mink (D), a former middle school teacher and progressive activist, announced this week that she’s seeking an at-large seat on the council.

Mink made national headlines in 2018 when she encountered President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, out at lunch and confronted him. The video of her, with her toddler on her hip, telling Pruitt to “resign before your scandals push you out” went viral, and he resigned three days later.

Now, she says she’s aiming to bring the same strength and integrity to the County Council.

“I never planned to run for office,” she said, “but this is a crucial moment, and we need leaders who aren’t afraid to meet it with bold, progressive, systemic solutions. So many decisions that impact our day-to-day experiences are made at the county level, and it’s time to truly address the inequities and long-standing challenges this pandemic and the last four years have highlighted. We cannot let this moment pass us by.”

After teaching middle and high school, Mink took on the role of special projects manager for the Center for Popular Democracy, a nationwide nonprofit. Last March, she co-founded Masks For America, a volunteer-run nonprofit that delivered almost 2 million pieces of crowd-funded PPE to frontline workers and low-income communities.

Montgomery County will send four at-large members, who are elected countywide, to the county council. Three Democratic incumbents are expected to run for re-election in 2022: Councilmembers Gabriel Albornoz, Evan Glass and William Jawando, while a fourth, Councilmember Hans Riemer, is termed out.

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