Candidates Begin To Emerge for District 2 County Council Seat

Candidates Begin To Emerge for District 2 County Council Seat

Two Republicans plan to challenge incumbent Craig Rice, who may run for county executive

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Current District 2 County Council member Craig Rice (left) will face challengers if he decides to run for re-election

Douglas Tallman (file photo)

Two Republicans have announced they are running and a state delegate also is considering a campaign for the District 2 County Council seat currently held by Democrat Craig Rice.

The upcounty district represents rural parts of Montgomery County and includes Darnestown, Germantown and Clarksburg.

In the past month, two Republicans—business consultant Tom Ferleman and small-business owner Kyle Sefcik—have announced plans to run for the seat in 2018. Del. Charlie Barkley (D-Germantown) said Wednesday he will run for County Council, but only for the District 2 seat if Rice decides to step down.

Barkley said he would run for an at-large seat if Rice decides to run for re-election in 2018. There will be three at-large seats open in that election; the implementation of term limits passed by county voters in November means council members George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen and Marc Elrich—all of whom have served three or more terms—can’t run for re-election. Council President Roger Berliner, who represents District 1, will also have to leave office because of term limits.

There are five County Council districts plus four at-large seats in Montgomery County. Map via Montgomery County Council website.

As for Rice, he said Tuesday he hasn’t decided what he will do.

“I’m still exploring,” Rice said in an interview with Bethesda Beat. “There have been a lot of folks who have inquired about me running for county executive. I’ve formulated a steering committee for folks to talk about that, but I’ve not made any decisions at this point.”

If Rice were to run for county executive, he’d likely be up against a number of Democratic challengers. Elrich and Leventhal have already said they plan to run. Berliner has not formally announced a campaign, but is rumored to be considering a run. Total Wine & More co-founder David Trone and health care company executive David Blair are also considering jumping into the race.

Despite the widespread interest in local offices, candidates still have more than a year to formally file with the state Board of Elections—the filing deadline is Feb. 27, 2018. Candidates can begin to file their formal certificate of candidacy on Feb. 28 of this year.

It’s not yet clear who will run for the open at-large seats and to represent District 1, which includes Bethesda and Potomac. But in District 2, candidates are expressing their interest in a seat that may not even be open in 2018.

Republican District 2 County Council candidate Tom Ferleman. Via Twitter

Ferleman, a 50-year-old consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton who lives in Germantown, said in an interview Tuesday that should he be elected to the council, his priorities include upgrading the county’s transportation infrastructure and creating a more business-friendly climate.

“Every morning thousands of people stream down I-270 to jobs in Virginia and Washington, D.C.,” Ferleman said. “Those jobs aren’t here anymore. A trip that should take 30 minutes from Gaithersburg down to the [Potomac River] to Virginia now can take upwards of two hours.”

He said county officials have failed to upgrade roads and transit networks to match the growth of the county’s population.

“When I was growing up, our transportation infrastructure model was second to none,” the Seneca Valley High School graduate said.

He added he would support implementing proposed county initiatives such as Bus Rapid Transit lines and other transportation measures to try to reduce the daily traffic congestion that the county’s commuters face. However, he said poor fiscal management by county officials has created a financial bind, leaving no money to pay for the needed transportation improvements—despite an 8.7 percent property tax increase last year.

Ferleman said his main focus would be on creating jobs in District 2. He said the county should pursue an easier permitting process for new businesses and lower taxes.

“We must make it more favorable for businesses to operate here,” Ferleman said. Saying he would personally court businesses to move into the county, and he mentioned the former COMSAT building site—a 204-acre campus in Clarksburg that has been vacant for nearly 15 years—and said he would make it his “life’s goal to recruit an anchor corporation” to take over that property.

Bethesda-based developer Lantian bought the property for $11.5 million in 2015 and at the time was considering a pharmaceutical research facility for the site.

Ferleman’s civic involvement includes serving as the upcounty representative for low-income citizens on the county’s Community Action Board as well as a public representative on the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board. He also served as the state legislative District 15 chairman for Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2014 election campaign.

?Sefcik, a 29-year-old who owns the MMA & Sport fitness center in Damascus and the DJ business K-Sef Entertainment, said that if he is elected, he would focus on stemming what he considers to be too much development occurring upcounty.

Sefcik said he has observed the county’s community planning process in recent years and has watched county planners approve dense development projects despite significant opposition from local residents.

“They’re not listening to us,” Sefcik said, referring to County Council members. “They don’t correlate zoning and infrastructure together. In Montgomery Village, it’s about to get very bad and no one knows it.”

Sefcik, a Gaithersburg resident who graduated from Damascus High School, has a criminology and criminal justice degree from the University of Maryland.

He said he plans to self-fund his campaign and not accept campaign contributions.

“Nobody will be getting into my pockets for special interests,” Sefcik said. “What I’m interested in is helping people.”

He also is confident that he’ll win the District 2 seat.

“I just want you to understand who I am,” Sefcik said. “I do a lot, bro, that’s why I’m going to run and win… Everything I say I will do, and nobody can argue with that. If I lose, I will be highly, highly confused. We don’t need another robot on the County Council. We don’t need somebody who’s going to be the same.”

Image left: Kyle Sefcik, provided photo

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