Former County Councilmember, Board Of Elections Chair Nancy Dacek Dies

Former County Councilmember, Board Of Elections Chair Nancy Dacek Dies

She was among few Republicans elected to County Council in recent decades

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Former County Council member Nancy Dacek died Monday at her home in Darnestown.

Nancy Dacek, a member of the Montgomery County Council from 1990-2002 — and one of the few Republicans to serve on that body during the past half century — died Monday at her home in Darnestown. Dacek, whose 81st birthday was Sunday, had been diagnosed with brain cancer last summer.

A resident of Montgomery County for more than 40 years, Dacek also served as chair of the county’s Board of Elections for four years following her time on the council.

After running unsuccessfully for the county school board in 1982, Dacek – then a Potomac resident — volunteered for the 1986 County Council campaign of her friend and frequent tennis partner, the late Betty Ann Krahnke of Chevy Chase. Krahnke didn’t win that year, but – four years later – Krahnke and Dacek were elected to represent District 1 and 2, respectively, when the council was expanded from seven to nine members. At the time, they were the first Republicans in two decades to win seats on the council.

A redistricting plan crafted by the council’s Democratic majority then put Krahnke’s and Dacek’s residences together in District 1, potentially forcing the two friends to run against each other in 1994. Instead, Dacek moved to Darnestown and ran successfully for re-election in the newly drawn District 2, serving for eight more years until her defeat for a fourth term in 2002.

There have been no Republicans on the County Council since 2006, when Republican Howard Denis, who succeeded Krahnke in District 1, was ousted by current Councilmember Roger Berliner.  

County Executive Ike Leggett, who served with Dacek on the council for more than a decade, today lauded her as a “stalwart advocate for the Upcounty region,” adding, “I will remember her penetrating intelligence, her matter-of-fact common sense, and her quick wit.”

During her council tenure, Dacek focused heavily on fire and rescue as well as environmental and agricultural preservation issues. She pushed for creation of Germantown’s BlackRock Center for the Arts, where a memorial service for her is tentatively planned for later this month; the precise date has not been determined.

Dacek’s ouster from the council in 2002, by Democrat Mike Knapp, was widely attributed to her opposition to the Intercounty Connector; an “End Gridlock” slate formed by then-County Executive Doug Duncan successfully targeted several incumbent council members who were opposed to construction of the roadway.

Dacek once again found herself amid controversy four years later, when – after being appointed chair of the county Board of Elections by the administration of then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich –she took the much of the heat for polling place snafus on the day of the 2006 primary election. It prompted sharp criticism of Dacek by Duncan and then-Council President George Leventhal, the Washington Post reported at the time.

Leventhal, currently serving another stint as council president, today praised Dacek as “an outstanding public servant,” adding, “Her decency, her common sense approach to…issues and her good humor all enriched our community.”

Dacek is survived by her husband Ray, five children and numerous grandchildren. Visiting hours are scheduled this Saturday at the DeVol Funeral Home, 10 East Deer Park Drive in Gaithersburg, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Further funeral arrangements were not immediately available.

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