Committee forms to oppose ballot question on County Council structure

Committee forms to oppose ballot question on County Council structure

Group says referendum would restrict representation

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A newly formed committee in Montgomery County is opposing a ballot measure that would change the County Council to nine seats, all by district.

“Residents for More Representation” announced its formation on Monday with a news release and said it’s made up of grassroots, labor and business officials in the county.

The County Council has nine seats — five by district and four at-large.

Marilyn Balcombe, president and CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, and Michelle Graham, a 40-year county resident, are co-chairing the new committee.

Their group is supporting a separate ballot question on the council’s structure. The separate question, proposed by the County Council, calls for increasing the council to 11 seats by adding two district seats.

Balcombe said in the release that residents need “more representation, not less.”

“The county’s population has increased by 50% over the last 30 years, which is why we need to expand and modernize our council structure so that it better reflects our incredible growth and brings local government closer to our residents. … Adding two additional districts will help increase the level of constituent service and protect the important role of our at-large councilmembers,” she said.

Adding additional council members would also help increase the diversity of views represented on the council, Graham said in the release.

The ballot referendum to change the council’s structure to nine district seats was put forth by Nine Districts for MoCo, local residents who argue that there is unequal representation on the council with the current structure.

Nine Districts for MoCo collected more than 16,300 signatures to earn a spot on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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