2021 | Politics

Morales running for County Council District 4

Navarro, the term-limited incumbent, might seek another office

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Maricé Morales, a former state delegate, said Tuesday that she is running for Montgomery County Council in District 4.

Council Member Nancy Navarro, who has held the seat since 2009, can’t run for re-election because of term limits.

Navarro said she is still deciding what her next career step might be and has set a deadline of around September.

She has not ruled out a run for county executive or a state or federal office.

Navarro, who previously served five years on the Board of Education, said, “Everything is still in play, because obviously, after so many years of having the honor to serve on the Board of Education [and] County Council … I still would want to play a role in public service and policy. I’m also being approached in other sectors, so I need to see what makes more sense for me and my family.”

Morales, 33, a Democrat, has lined up many supporters for her candidacy. She was joined by more than 125 community members in a virtual announcement, which included endorsements by Sen. Susan Lee (D-Bethesda) and Del. Bonnie Cullison (D-Wheaton), former colleagues in the State House.

The only candidate to have formally filed to run in District 4 is Democrat Natali Fani-Gonzalez, the vice chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The filing deadline is Feb. 22.

The 2022 primary will be held on June 28, and the general election on Nov. 8.

Montgomery County’s ballot will include four at-large County Council seats, plus seven seats by district, up from the current five. The two extra district seats were added through a referendum last year, approved by more than 62% of voters.

The county executive seat also will be on the ballot. Incumbent Marc Elrich, County Council Member Hans Riemer and David Blair, a local businessman and philanthropist, all have said they are running for county executive.

In an interview, Morales said she is excited to begin campaigning and wants to build on the work of Navarro.

Navarro’s commitment to improving early child care, racial equity and social equity are some of the reasons Morales initially ran for delegate in 2014, she said.

Morales added redevelopment and affordable housing are also important issues in her district.

She said her experience in Annapolis from 2015 to 2019 — representing parts of Wheaton, Aspen Hill and Redland — would help with policy proposals.

“I am excited to bring the skills from the state level and those relationships … because with government and where we live, a lot of issues are cross-government kind of issues,” Morales said.

She’s proud of her work in Annapolis centering on improving access to first-time homeowner assistance programs.

“With homeownership comes civic engagement,” Morales said. “My generation are buying homes 10 years later than our parents are … and that’s important to note because at that point, you have a civic stake in your neighborhood.”

Morales is married and lives in downtown Wheaton. She is an attorney in Rockville focusing on immigration, criminal defense and personal injury law.

Morales worked for then-state Sen. Roger Manno before winning a term as state delegate in District 19, then losing her bid for a second term in 2018.

Navarro, who spoke in support of Morales on Tuesday, said it’s important to have a “pipeline of leadership, especially women of color” to run for elected office.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com