It won’t just be County Council members running for Montgomery County executive in the 2018 election.
Del. Bill Frick (D-Bethesda), the House majority leader, announced Wednesday he will run for Montgomery County executive.
Frick said in an interview with Bethesda Beat that he believes new leadership and vision are needed at the county level. Frick, 42, had previously been fundraising to run for Congress in Maryland’s 6th District.
“When I spoke to people around the county, time and time again people told me this is where I was needed,” Frick said. “We saw with the overwhelmingly strong support of term limits that voters are ready to turn the page on this council.”
In November, with 70 percent support, voters approved a referendum to limit council members and the county executive to three consecutive terms. As a result, incumbent County Executive Ike Leggett could not seek a fourth term, although he had planned to retire.
Frick, a Bethesda resident, will face off against Democratic County Council members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal in the race. All three are term-limited and could not seek re-election to the council.
Robin Ficker is running for county executive on the Republican side.
The primary will be held June 26, 2018.
Frick said he will work to improve the quality of life in Montgomery County if elected.
“Our neighbors want strong schools, solutions for transportation and they want a vibrant economy and nightlife,” Frick said. “We want to tell folks you can have it all here and we intend to deliver on that.”
Frick said he would listen to a wide variety of voices and opinions in the county.
“I think our voters have been frustrated and they don’t always think the current council members are hearing them when they speak up,” Frick said. “They feel like only certain voices get heard.”
He described those voices as “within the Rockville bubble” where the council’s headquarters is located.
“For example, when I tried to reform the broken alcohol system, the public was overwhelmingly supportive,” Frick said, referring changes he proposed in 2015 to reform the county’s Department of Liquor Control. “Yet these council members ignored what the public felt and did what they felt was best for their political futures.”
While Leventhal and Elrich have both defended the county’s current liquor monopoly that controls the wholesale distribution of alcohol and retail sale of liquor, Berliner, like Frick, has called for an end to the monopoly.
Frick also took issue with the 8.7 percent property tax increase approved by the County Council last year.
“I think raising taxes and putting it into their own campaign funds and pet projects was a huge mistake,” Frick said, referring to a new system of public financing for campaigns and other council initiatives. “I think people are willing to pay taxes when they know it’s going for things they need like schools and roads, but that’s not what this council is doing.”
The council defended the tax increase last year as a way to invest more in school construction and close the achievement gap. Leventhal declined to comment on Frick's entrance into the race. Elrich and Berliner could not immediately be reached for comment.
Frick said he would use traditional fundraising for his campaign, rather than the new public financing system that Elrich and Leventhal are using. The county budgeted $11 million to fund the public campaign system for fiscal year 2018.
“I’d rather raise my own funds than spend the taxpayers’ dollars on my campaign,” Frick said about his decision.
When asked whether he thought voters would be concerned he didn’t initially choose to run for county executive rather than Congress, Frick responded that “both are tough races at this level.”
Frick has been a delegate since 2007 and was appointed majority leader this year. He previously ran for Maryland attorney general in 2014, but dropped out and later won re-election to his District 16 seat that year. In the Congressional race, Frick was running against wealthy Potomac businessman David Trone, Del. Aruna Miller (D-Darnestown), state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring) and Andrew Duck in the Democratic primary.
He is a graduate of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and law degree from Harvard. Since 2000, he has been an attorney at the Washington, D.C., law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.