2021 | Politics

More than a dozen candidates declare intent to use public financing

Next filing deadline is Sept. 7

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As the primary election season progresses, more than a dozen candidates have filed their intent to use Montgomery County’s public election fund.

The fund is part of the county’s effort to provide public financing for campaigns, and was originally used in the 2018 election cycle.

Its architect, former County Council Member Phil Andrews, previously told Bethesda Beat the system is meant to offer more opportunities for candidates to run grassroots campaigns, based less on special interests and more on smaller donations. 

So far, more than a dozen Democratic candidates have filed their intent to use public financing, but only one was certified as of the most recent report available: Brandy Brooks, an at-large County Council candidate. No Republicans have filed.

The donation cap for individual donors in the system is $250. Candidates must meet the following benchmarks to be certified and receive matching funds: 

  • $10,000 from 125 donors as a district County Council candidate
  • $20,000 from 250 donors as an at-large County Council candidate
  • $40,000 from 500 donors as an executive candidate

In the county executive race, incumbent Marc Elrich, County Council Member Hans Riemer and Devin Battley, a former motorcycle shop owner in Gaithersburg, have all filed their intent to use public financing in a Democratic primary.

Elrich and Riemer have announced they’re definitely running. Battley said in an interview Tuesday that he’s considering a run and would have a final decision by mid-September.

Businessman David Blair also is running in the Democratic primary for county executive.

County Council President Tom Hucker said in July that he also is exploring a run for county executive.

In the at-large council race — for seats representing the entire county — incumbents Gabe Albornoz and Evan Glass have filed their intent to use the public election fund. So have Brooks, Kristin Mink and Laurie-Anne Sayles, who have all announced they’re running. 

Brooks, the only candidate who has been certified as of July 31, received $113,765 from the public election fund. 

Scott Goldberg, a Silver Spring resident who sits on the county’s Democratic Central Committee, has also filed his intent for public election funding. He said in an interview Tuesday that he’s currently raising money and will make a final decision on whether he’s running for the council by late September.

Six people have filed their intent to use the public election fund in district council seat races. That includes Natali Fani-Gonzalez, Maricé Morales and Omar Lazo, who all have officially filed for County Council District 4. 

It also includes Fatmata Barrie, who is running for County Council District 5, and Marilyn Balcombe, president of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, who is running for the District 2 seat.

Brian Anleu, the chief of staff to the Montgomery County Planning Board, is also listed. He said Tuesday that he’s considering a run for a council district seat, but is waiting on what Hucker decides to do and how districts might be redrawn.

If Hucker runs for county executive, Anleu said, he would likely consider District 5, Hucker’s current seat, or somewhere else in the eastern part of the county.

Last year, voters approved a measure expanding the County Council from nine seats to 11. There will be seven seats by district, up from five. There are also four at-large seats.

A redistricting committee is working on new district boundaries to reflect the two new council districts and the latest census population figures.

The filing deadline is Feb. 22. The 2022 primary election will be on June 28 and the general election on Nov. 8.

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