Montgomery County Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles (D) will join the 6th District race for Congress.
Sayles plans to announce her candidacy in a statement Thursday and will follow that up with fundraisers Saturday to mark her birthday, in Frederick and Washington, D.C.
“I’ve taken a while to come to this decision,” Sayles said in an interview. “I’ve been talking with mentors and thinking about the role I can play in protecting our democracy, protecting our community and serving constituents. But the more I thought about it, it was hard not to make the decision to enter the race.”
Sayles becomes the ninth Democrat to seek the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th), who is running for Senate next year. The others are state Dels. Lesley Lopez and Joe Vogel, Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, former State Department official Joel Rubin, military veteran Mia Mason, business development manager Stephen McDow, former federal program manager Destiny Drake West, and frequent candidate George Gluck.
Sayles said that in this field she is uniquely equipped to amplify progressive positions, show a record of accomplishment, and keep the competitive seat in Democratic hands in November 2024.
“We still need strong voices — people who will stand up to the MAGA Republicans, people who will get the work done, people who will stand up for the rights of women and for people of color, which are being stripped away, day after day,” Sayles said.
The councilmember, a daughter of Jamaican immigrants, is a lifelong Marylander who was elected countywide to an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council in 2022, meaning she represents more people now — about 1.1 million — than congressional districts contain (760,000-plus). But the 6th District is the state’s biggest geographically and is spread out over five counties, a challenge to all of the candidates.
Sayles said she has already been to several communities in Western Maryland as part of her deliberations about running, and has been struck by how many voters there feel ignored.
“The challenges are many,” she said. “Visiting the rest of the district has shown me that the needs are the same as my constituents face. People want a representative that will listen to them, that will not shy away from them, that will bring back the resources to the community that we deserve and that we’ve been denied for too long.”
Sayles said that in addition to abortion rights and civil rights, she will emphasize education, health care access, job creation and the economy, economic justice, research and development, and transportation infrastructure on the campaign trail. A former senior consultant at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Sayles served on the Gaithersburg City Council for four years, and was a board member of the Maryland Municipal League and the National League of Cities, before being elected to the county council. She ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Delegates in 2014.
Sayles acknowledged the challenges of running for higher office while serving on the county council, but said, “I want to ensure that my constituents who elected me continue to see me and know that I know what my job is. I know constituent services are key and they can make and break your political career. It’s going to take more strategic balancing.”
During her campaign for county council, Sayles participated in Montgomery County’s public financing program, and she spent less than all of the other victorious candidates in the at-large race. She conceded that fundraising could be a challenge for a race of this magnitude but expressed confidence that she will “have the resources we need to compete.”
Sayles’ lead consultant, Karen DeFilippi, is a political veteran who was a top strategist at Emily’s List, the Democratic fundraising powerhouse, from 2015 to 2021. That group’s endorsement could prove pivotal in a crowded primary like this one.
Say it with oysters
The tributes are mounting for U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who plans to end his decades-long political career in January 2025. This one sounds fun: The Chesapeake Bay Foundation will honor Cardin with its Clean Water Legacy Award at the group’s DC on the Half Shell gala next March, the regional group’s biggest fundraiser in the nation’s capital.
The biennial event, to be held at Washington, D.C.’s thriving Union Market, is meant to spotlight the Bay’s most critical natural filter, the oyster. Oyster farmers from around the region will be on hand to serve an assortment of sustainably grown oysters grown in the Bay and its tributaries.
“Whether advocating for Maryland fisheries, promoting environmental education, or ensuring federal support for Bay research and restoration, Sen. Cardin’s career has been one legislative victory for clean water after another,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation President Hilary Harp Falk said.
CBF noted that Cardin has advocated for the Bay since he began his political career in 1967 in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he worked on the original Chesapeake Bay Agreement of the early 1980s. More recently he has helped secure historic funding increases for the federal Chesapeake Bay Program.
“I’ve dedicated my career to improving the health of our watershed because of its direct and existential impact on the communities and wildlife it serves as home and habitat,” Cardin said. “For nearly six decades, I’ve proudly supported the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s efforts to protect our treasured Bay.”
On the municipal election front
Progressive Maryland is weighing in on three municipal elections this fall. The group is endorsing Iyamide House for Bowie City Council (District 3), Izola Shaw for Rockville City Council At-Large, and Martin Mitchell for mayor of Laurel.
“We have selected candidates who are committed to creating positive change and amplifying the voices of those often unheard,” said Larry Stafford, executive director of Progressive Maryland.
The group cited House’s platform, which includes education equity, affordable housing, community safety, economic growth and environmental justice. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.
Shaw has promoted environmental sustainability on the campaign trail and is advocating for marginalized communities and transparent and accountable governance, Progressive Maryland said.
Mitchell, who currently serves on the Laurel City Council, has been a major advocate for rent control in the region and helped expand collective bargaining for municipal employees.
This story has been updated to more accurately reflect Karen DeFilippi’s role with Laurie-Anne Sayles’ campaign.