Montgomery County voters’ overwhelming approval Tuesday of term limits for the county executive and County Council is likely to result in at least two possible outcomes.
For one, council member Marc Elrich said he is likely to run for county executive. And two, council member Nancy Navarro said she is likely to run for a third full term in 2018.
“I’ve been thinking for a while about running for executive,” Elrich said Wednesday morning. “This certainly keeps that door open.”
Voters overwhelmingly passed Question B, which limited the county executive and County Council members to three consecutive terms. The ballot measure also defined any part of a term served as constituting a full term.
Assuming the votes are certified, council President Nancy Floreen and council members Roger Berliner, George Leventhal and Elrich—all Democrats—would be barred from seeking another term.
However, voters also overwhelmingly passed Question C, which defined a term to be at least two years. Council member Nancy Navarro won her seat in a special election in 2009, a year before the 2010 election. It’s possible a court have to sort out the differences between Questions B and C.
Robin Ficker, the local activist who launched the petition drive to put term limits on the ballot, said Wednesday morning he would not press a legal challenge after consulting attorneys.
“It’s my opinion [Navarro] gets to run again,” he said. “I did not plan to bring a lawsuit. Someone else might.”
Navarro said she had planned all along to run again in 2018.
“I always thought one more term would be enough for me, and I think I would take that opportunity,” she said.
The term-limits vote, she said, reflected the national mood against Congress and political gridlock.
“All of that has made its way into the county sentiment as well,” she said.
Ficker and County Executive Ike Leggett both said they believed the passage of term limits meant voters were rebelling against the council’s passage of an 8.7 property tax increase, a recordation tax increase that would net the county $200 million over six years and council pay raises.
“I said at the time it will fall into the general mood of the public, of turning them sour,” Leggett said. “I think all of those things proved to be correct.”
Leggett, who had already announced he would not seek a fourth term, said the council should have been more modest in its proposals. “It’s feeding into a negative attitude of our public officials,” he said.
Council member Hans Riemer, who said he hopes to run for a third term, disagreed with Leggett’s assessment of voters who supported term limits.
“I think certainly some people voted for term limits for those reasons, but I think most people voted for it for more benign reasons,” Riemer said. “They want new energy, new ideas in county government. I’m ready to deliver on that.”
He said people have many reasons for voting on an issue.
“I don’t think we have to embrace the negative reasons why people might have approved it,” Riemer said.
Floreen took another approach: “It’s difficult to reach any conclusions on term limits other than it’s easier to vote yes than vote no.”