Line Forming For Appointment To District 5 County Council Seat

Line Forming For Appointment To District 5 County Council Seat

Half-Dozen Vying So Far To Fill Vacancy Following Ervin Resignation

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Barely a week after County Councilmember Valerie Ervin announced she would resign in early January, a line is forming to fill her District 5 seat – with at least a half-dozen names planning to apply. More are expected before the Jan. 8 application deadline set in a statement this week from County Council President Craig Rice.

So far, the field includes:

* Alan Bowser, 61, a Silver Spring-based attorney who was a deputy assistant secretary of Commerce during the Clinton administration and more recently chief of staff to former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg.

* Michael Diegel, 59, a public affairs consultant who chairs the Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment District Advisory Committee and is a member of the county’s Nighttime Economy Task Force.

* Ronnie Galvin, 45, executive director of Impact Silver Spring, a group formed in the wake of the Silver Spring redevelopment to provide support services to community residents.

* Tim Male, 43, a Takoma Park city council member since 2011 and, until recently, vice president of a national environmental organization, Defenders of Wildlife.  

* Dale Tibbitts, 55, for the past seven years chief of staff to at-large Councilmember Marc Elrich and a former chair of the Silver Spring Transit Management District Advisory Committee.

* Dan Wilhelm, 68, a former president of the Montgomery County Civic Federation and a former chair of the Committee for Montgomery, an umbrella group that is active on state legislative issues.

Applicants for the seat must reside in Silver Spring/Takoma Park-based District 5 and, like Ervin, be a registered Democrat. They will be asked to pledge only to fill out the remainder of Ervin’s term, which runs through next Dec. 1, and not to seek a full term in next June’s primary, according to Rice’s statement.

At this point, at least another five contenders are eyeing a 2014 run for the full-four year term in the seat. Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board Chair Evan Glass has announced he is running, and Terrill North, a management consultant who is vice-president of Impact Silver Spring, is “leaning toward” running in District 5, but still consulting with supporters. North had previously indicated he was looking at running at-large before Ervin announced her political plans.

Two well-known political figures in the area – state Delegate Tom Hucker and Board of Education member Christopher Barclay – have confirmed they are thinking about running for the slot in the June primary, and Casey Anderson, a member of the Montgomery County Planning Commission, said that he, too, is looking at the race, and will made a decision after the holidays.

In the early jockeying for the short-term, “caretaker” appointment, Galvin – who did not respond to messages seeking comment – has won the backing of Ervin, who will be off the council when the remaining eight council members vote on her successor.

“If I were sitting on the council, Ronnie Galvin would be my choice,” said Ervin, who is leaving to become executive director of the New York-based Center for Working Families, an arm of the Working Families Party. “He really believes in the mission of my office and what I have tried to create over the last seven years.”

Ervin said she did not know the extent of Galvin’s support among other council members, other than to say she has spoken with Rice and Councilmember Nancy Navarro, the the council’s immediate past president, and that “they know of Ronnie well, and seem very supportive of his application.”

Ervin’s support for Galvin could be a double-edged sword, given her sometimes fractious relationships with other council members. Likewise, Tibbitts’ association with Elrich, who is said to be backing Tibbitts’ bid, is an issue – with some suggesting it would be tantamount to handing Elrich, the council’s most outspoken skeptic on development-related issues, a second vote.

“I’m Marc’s confidential aide; right now, I’m supposed to be him. That’s my job,” Tibbitts responded, adding: “What folks don’t hear are the internal discussions that [Marc and I] have. I am my own independent person.”

Under the selection process outlined by Rice, applicants will face public interview sessions with the council, with these sessions tentatively scheduled for Jan. 17, Jan. 22, and Jan. 24. 

While the “caretaker” appointment, which must be made within 30 days of Ervin’s Jan. 3 resignation under the county charter, precludes running for a full-term, it nonetheless has its rewards: an annual salary rate of $106,394 for much of the next year, and increased political visibility that could yield dividends in a future run for office.

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