Editor’s note: Bethesda Beat is publishing a series of stories highlighting local races for county, state, and federal elected offices in the Nov. 8 general election. Today’s story focuses on the race for Montgomery County state’s attorney.
Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy is running unopposed as he seeks a fifth four-year term in the upcoming Nov. 8 general election.
McCarthy, 70, was first elected state’s attorney in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010, 2014 and 2018. In this year’s primary in July, he defeated Democratic challengers Tom DeGonia, Bernice Mireku-North and Perry Paylor. McCarthy received 52% of the vote in the primary while Mireku-North came in second with 19%, followed by Paylor with almost 15%, and DeGonia with 14%. No Republicans ran for the office.
McCarthy has sounded the alarm for more than a year on the prevalence of guns in the county, particularly privately made firearms, or ghost guns. In addition to forming a gun safety task force with police to address a rise in violent crime, McCarthy’s office has also partnered with Montgomery County Public Schools on recent initiatives.
In August, the State’s Attorney’s Office partnered with MCPS and Rockville police on a gun buyback event in Rockville in which more than 300 firearms were collected. And beginning last month, he started holding a series of high school assemblies at all public high schools, aimed at educating students about the dangers and consequences of youth gun violence.
In an interview with Bethesda Beat last week, McCarthy noted that there were only two gun seizures in two weeks, although he acknowledged that was a small snapshot. He also said he thinks judges in the county are coming down hard on defendants charged with firearm offenses.
“Increasingly, individuals who are found with ghost guns illegally are being held pre-trial, and the sentences that are being handed out in cases related to handguns, particularly ghost guns, seem to be on the increase,” he said.
McCarthy has also commissioned an independent audit of his office to study racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to how the law is applied. In a previous interview with Bethesda Beat this summer, he said that when the study is complete, his office will implement a system of “dashboards,” focusing on demographic data when it comes to case outcomes.
“For example, one of the issues of concern in the community … if you have diversionary programs … 5,000 a year get diverted … [is] who’s getting diverted and how do those numbers break down in terms of race, ethnicity and gender?” he said.
During that interview, McCarthy committed to improving the amount of racial diversity on his staff. He noted that 20% of his attorneys are African American, but the office has had a more difficult time recruiting Hispanic attorneys.
“It really does matter if people walk into a courtroom and see people that look like them as either judges or prosecutors or defense attorneys,” he said.
Early voting runs from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3 in Montgomery County. For more information, visit Bethesda Beat’s General Election Voters Guide.