2021 | Politics

Planning board vice chair running for district seat on County Council

Plus: Candidates file for state Senate, Gaithersburg council

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Natali Fani-Gonzalez, the vice chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board, has filed to run for County Council in District 4.

The District 4 seat — which includes Wheaton, Colesville, Olney and Laytonsville — is currently held by County Council Member Nancy Navarro, who is term-limited and can’t run for re-election.

Fani-Gonzalez, who has lived in the district for 20 years, said in a phone interview on Friday afternoon that she will focus on several issues in her campaign, including cyclist and pedestrian safety, job growth, living wages, and environmental concerns.

“Although I have a very strong foundation for countywide issues, especially coming from the Planning Board, I really feel that there is a need to focus on the issues happening in my community,” she said of why she chose to run for a district seat instead of an at-large seat.

Fani-Gonzalez was appointed as a member of the Maryland-Capital Park and Planning Commission and a member of the planning board in 2014. She is the founder and principal of Matea Group, a Rockville public relationship and translations firm.

Because of her current appointment, Fani-Gonzalez checked with Maryland’s Ethics Commission if there would be a problem with her run for office. She said she can run for the council if she does not accept campaign donations from developers and land use attorneys.

Fani-Gonzalez said she has enjoyed her time serving on the planning board, but hopes to expand her focus to broader issues such as health and education.

“I want more than just work on park and planning issues … issues that you don’t see in park and planning, but they’re so important to make the county stronger. That’s what motivates me and why I’m doing this,” she said.

Maryland will hold its 2022 primaries on June 28, followed by the general election on Nov. 8.

The filing deadline is Feb. 22.

Businessman running for Gaithersburg City Council

Businessman Dave Belgard of Gaithersburg is running for a seat on the City Council.

Belgard has run three small businesses and started two, according to a press release he sent Monday.

He said in the press release that his campaign will focus on several issues, including job growth and diversity, community engagement, affordable housing, and the environment.

“We can build on the strength of our cultural, racial, and economic diversity and we can do it while preserving all of the already wonderful parts [of] our city,” he said on his website. “I am running for City Council because I am committed to helping Gaithersburg continue to be a place where I am proud for my family to live.”

Gaithersburg’s election is on Nov. 2, 2021. Voters will cast ballots for mayor and two at-large members of the council.

Lee runs for District 16 re-election; newcomer eyes District 39

Sen. Susan Lee (D-Bethesda) is looking to keep her District 16 seat in the 2022 election.

She was elected to the Maryland State Senate in 2014 after serving in the Maryland House of Delegates for 13 years.

District 16 includes Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Rockville, Potomac, Friendship Heights, Cabin John, and Glen Echo.

Lee is the first Asian American senator elected to the Maryland Senate.

Lee said she has worked on several legislative efforts, including fully funding public schools, passing gun safety laws, protecting disability rights and benefits, and allowing for automatic voter registration.

A newcomer is running for the District 39 seat in the state Senate.

Germantown resident Adam Alphaeus Cunningham filed to run on April 7 as a Democrat. The office is currently held by Democratic Sen. Nancy King.

On a donation page for his campaign, Cunningham wrote that he is running “because I believe in us and I’m determined to help build the people-powered movement we need to win so we can get to work building a better world — a world that we deserve.”

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.