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Political notes: More candidates in Dist. 6, as the lobbying world turns, MML honorees, personnel news and more

Democrat Destiny Drake West has entered the 6th District congressional race. West campaign photo.

Former state Del. Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington) is hoping that the third time is the charm.

Parrott, the GOP nominee for Congress in the 6th District in 2020 and 2022, announced Tuesday that he has created an exploratory committee ahead of a possible bid in 2024.

“My wife and are talking and praying about whether to run in the 2024 election,” Parrott said in a statement. “We are exploring the race, and are very grateful for the huge amount of support that we received in 2022 and for so many people encouraging a run in 2024.”

Parrott finished 20 points behind U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) in 2020, when the district heavily favored Democrats. But after Parrott and other Republicans sued to challenge the General Assembly’s proposed new district lines following the 2020 Census, the district, which takes in parts of Montgomery County and most of Western Maryland, became considerably more competitive. Parrott held Trone to a 9-point victory margin last fall.

Trone is running for the U.S. Senate this election cycle, suggesting that the 6th District, without Trone’s heavy personal investment in a reelection race, could be even more competitive next year.

Three Republicans have already entered the race — retired police officer Chris Hyser, grocery store clerk Todd Pugilisi, and Air Force veteran Mariela Roca, who sought the nomination in 2022. And former Del. Brenda J. Thiam (R-Washington) filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission earlier this month to become a candidate, though she has yet to make a formal announcement.

Other Republicans pondering the race include state House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) and former Maryland Budget Secretary David Brinkley.

On the Democratic side, Destiny Drake West, who runs a think tank working to advance women’s issues, entered the race last week, saying the 6th District needs new leadership that reflects the district’s diversity.

“When so many families are hurting, we can’t continue doing business as usual in Washington,” she said in a statement. “We need an effective leader who understands the needs of our diverse communities and who will work tirelessly with the people of the district to turn hopes and dreams into real action.”

West has done policy work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and on Capitol Hill. She has also worked as a legislative aide in Maryland to state Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George’s) and former Sen. Obie Patterson (D-Prince George’s).

Benson called West “a truly outstanding rising star.”

West, 37, lives in Germantown with her husband, a retired Army officer, and their three children. Her think tank is called the Drake Institute of Women’s Policy.

A handful of Democrats have already entered the 6th District race and many more are considering it.

Stronach adds Evans to lobbying effort

The owners of the Preakness, Pimlico and Laurel Racetracks added another big hitter to their Annapolis lobbying arsenal.

The Maryland Jockey Club hired powerhouse lobbyist Gerry Evans in June, according to Maryland State Ethics Commission filings.

The addition of Evans, his daughter Hayley Evans and Derrick Green adds lobbying muscle and a relationship to Gov. Wes Moore (D). Green worked on Moore’s campaign.

The trio also represent the related Maryland Turf Caterers. The organization, owned by Canada-based Stronach Group, was already represented by Rifkin Weiner Livingston. That relationship continues, according to ethics commission filings.

Stronach Group’s Maryland racing subsidiary and state officials edge ever closer to a showdown over the future of horse racing and the annual Preakness Stakes.

Glassman hangs out his lobbying shingle

A former Harford County executive and state senator is joining the ranks of the lobbying corps.

Barry Glassman Monday said he has officially opened his firm, Deer Creek Government Relations.

The announcement follows what Glassman called “a soft opening during the most recent General Assembly session where he represented the Harford County Sheriff’s deputies and a Perryville-based cannabis company.

The former elected official currently has three clients registered with the Maryland State Ethics Commission. He also represents a small number of clients before some local governments.

Glassman is barred from representing clients before the Harford County government for a period of one year. That cooling off period ends on Dec. 6, Glassman said.

MML honors Spiegel, Barve

The Maryland Municipal League recognized two Montgomery County lawmakers with lifetime awards at the league’s annual conference.

Ryan Spiegel, former MML President and delegate-designee who is expected to be sworn in next week to represent District 17 in the House of Delegates, was given a lifetime achievement award for his work during four terms on the Gaithersburg City Council.

The league celebrated Public Service Commissioner Kumar Barve — whom Spiegel will replace in the General Assembly — with an honorary lifetime membership. Barve retired from the House of Delegates, where he had served since 1991, this spring. The first Indian American legislator elected in the United States, Barve went on to hold several leadership positions in the House, including majority leader, chair of the Montgomery County House delegation, and chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee.

During his legislative career, Barve received numerous awards from MML, including the league’s Superstar Award.

“He was fair while being passionate, found humor in the seriousness of their work, and knew how to get most out of the busiest committee in Annapolis. The Public Service Commission is lucky to have him, and I look forward to working with him in his new role,” said MML CEO Theresa Kuhns.

Spiegel’s swearing-in ceremony in Annapolis is scheduled for July 6 and will require him to resign from his council seat. He delivered parting remarks at the June 20 meeting of the mayor and council.

The MML Lifetime Achievement Award honors a current or former elected or appointed official who has demonstrated outstanding service to Maryland municipal government and to MML. Spiegel was first elected to the Gaithersburg City Council in 2007.

As President of MML, Spiegel helped secure critical Highway User Revenue funding for municipalities and guided the league through its first-ever virtual conference during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was recognized for his work in Gaithersburg on issues of economic development, the environment, affordable housing, fiscal responsibility, and roads and transit.

“Councilmember and Delegate-designee Spiegel’s leadership before, during, and after his time as President of the Maryland Municipal League has left a tremendous legacy,” Denise Mitchell, immediate past president of MML, said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have his leadership head to Annapolis and continue his good work as a member of the House of Delegates.”

MML picks new board members

The Maryland Municipal League inducted new board members at their annual conference in Ocean City this week.

Mayor John Carroll of Galena, a small town in eastern Kent County, will serve as president for the next year. Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor is president-elect.

The Maryland Municipal League represents 157 Maryland municipal governments and two special taxing districts.

“I’m both humbled and excited to take over the reins of our great organization,” Carroll said in a statement. “From Oakland to Ocean City, North East to North Brunswick, I look forward to traveling our great state, engaging with our members, and continuing to elevate our League’s presence in Annapolis. We are committed to every member, big or small.”

Here’s the rest of the league’s new Board of Directors:

  • Immediate Past President: College Park Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell
  • District 1 vice president: Pocomoke City Mayor Todd Nock
  • District 2 vice president: Rock Hall Mayor James Cook
  • District 3 vice president: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott
  • District 4 vice president: Port Tobacco Mayor Andrzej Marciniak
  • District 5 vice president: Rockville Councilmember Monique Ashton
  • District 6 vice president: Myersville Councilmember Wayne Creadick
  • District 7 vice president: Frostburg Commissioner Kevin Grove
  • District 8 vice president: Boonsboro Mayor Howard Long
  • District 9 vice president: Colmar Manor Councilmember Melinda Mendoza
  • District 10 vice president: Charlestown Commissioner Loucretia Wood
  • District 11 vice president: Hampstead Mayor Christopher Nevin

Members at-large of the board are: Mount Rainier Mayor Celina Benitez, Colmar Manor Mayor Monica Casanas, LaPlata Mayor Jeannine James, Bladensburg Mayor Takisha James, Union Bridge Mayor Perry L. Jones, Jr., Leonardtown Council Vice President Jay Mattingly, Cumberland Mayor Ray Morriss, Cheverly Mayor Kayce Munyeneh, Berlin Mayor Zachary Tyndall, and Hampstead Councilmember David Unglesbee.

Non-voting members of the board are Takoma Park Councilmember Cindy Dyballa, Greenbelt Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan and MML CEO Theresa Kuhns.

On the personnel front

Dylan Behler, who has held a variety of policy and political roles for state Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel), most recently as her chief of staff, is heading to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where he will become legislative director for the agency early next month.

He’ll become the first person to hold the position on a permanent basis since Gov. Wes Moore (D) took office in January. The job had been held on an interim basis by Emily H. Wilson, who had been DNR’s director of land acquisition and planning since the early days of the Hogan administration.

Elfreth this week paid tribute to Behler, who volunteered for her first campaign in 2018 and said she was “beyond proud” that he had been tapped to join the Moore administration.

“Dylan has been my right hand and played a leading role in all of the 84 bills we’ve passed and the tens of millions of dollars in State funding brought home for the residents of District 30,” she wrote on Facebook. “He’s been responsible for shaping major state policy, delivering critical services to constituents who are experiencing hardship, keeping every train running on time and ensuring that every voice is heard. He quickly earned the respect of staff and other Senators. His work ethic and compassion for others made me a better Senator and a better person. I’m lucky to count him as a friend.”


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Political notes: More candidates in Dist. 6, as the lobbying world turns, MML honorees, personnel news and more