Former Planning Board Member Meredith Wellington Files to Run for District 1 County Council Seat

Chevy Chase resident says she'll bring experience to development and infrastructure decisions

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Meredith Wellington

Emily Karcher Photography, LLC - provided by Wellington

Meredith Wellington announced Monday she will pursue the Bethesda-based District 1 County Council seat—becoming the fourth candidate vying for the position held by Roger Berliner, who is term-limited and running for county executive.

Wellington, a Chevy Chase resident, is a former Planning Board member who served on the land use and zoning body from 1999 to 2007.

“I think Montgomery County is a great county, but we are facing serious challenges,” Wellington, 67, said in an interview Monday with Bethesda Beat. “I have the leadership and experience to tackle those challenges.”

She said her years as a Planning Board member and community activist who led efforts to add more parks and community centers in the county separate her from other candidates running for the open seat. Wellington served on the board as a Republican, but later switched parties and is running for the council as a Democrat.

Bethesda activist and business owner Bill Cook and former tax attorney and women’s advocate Reggie Oldak have filed to run in District 1, while former Kensington Mayor Pete Fosselman declared his intentions to run for the seat in February. Andrew Friedson, an adviser to Comptroller Peter Franchot, has said he is considering a run for the local seat, as well. All four are Democrats.

Wellington said one of her significant accomplishments was fighting for the Wisconsin Place Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase, which she described as “one of the last few amenities the county has gotten from new development.” She said she also opposed decisions she believes allowed more development without corresponding infrastructure improvements.

“Development is good,” Wellington said Monday. “We always need to move forward and improve, but this recent development has not been in balance. It has not been in balance with the transportation system and it has not been in balance with schools.”

She criticized the county’s decision to allow more development in the Westbard neighborhood of Bethesda because the area lacks access to transit. She also said the recently approved Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan, which allows about 4.2 million square feet of additional development downtown, has the potential to exacerbate overcrowding issues at local schools.

Wellington is no stranger to development-related controversy. In a 2012 Bethesda Magazine article, then-county Planning Director Rollin Stanley referred to a group of “rich white women … spreading fear” who stalked his appearances in community groups. He claimed they referred to themselves as “the coven.”

Wellington and three other women who were among the alleged inciters objected to the characterization and she called for Stanley to resign. Stanley apologized for his comments.

At the time, Stanley was pushing for policies to reduce suburban sprawl and promote mass transit to urbanize the county, while Wellington was leading Neighborhood Montgomery, an organization opposing urbanization efforts.

Stanley later resigned following a strong rebuke from then-Planning Board Chairman Francoise Carrier who said Stanley’s comments “in no way reflect the views of this board or this agency.”

Wellington said Monday she will use traditional financing to fund her campaign, rather than the county’s new public election financing system. However, she said she won’t accept contributions from special interests.

Prior to joining the Planning Board, Wellington was an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

She plans to formally kick off her campaign at the Jane E. Lawton Community Recreation Center in Chevy Chase from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 17.

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