Some members of Montgomery County’s delegation to the House of Delegates are considering shifting their public service from Annapolis to Rockville and running for seats on the County Council.
The county executive as well as each of the nine council seats will be up for election in 2018. County Executive Ike Leggett has said he doesn’t plan to run for another term and no longer would be able to after voters approved a county charter amendment in November that limits the executive and council members to three consecutive terms. Four council members—at-large members Nancy Floreen, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, and District 1 member Roger Berliner—are also unable to run because of the term-limit rule.
Del. Charles Barkley, a Democrat who represents Montgomery Village, said Thursday he’s definitely running for a council seat. He said he likely would run for an at-large seat unless council member Craig Rice decides to give up his District 2 seat, possibly to run for another office.
Del. Al Carr said he was “thinking about” running. The Kensington Democrat could run for county executive, one of the council’s four at-large seats or a District 1 seat. “There’s no one that’s not thinking about it.”
For those who make a career of public service, a council seat offers several advantages over serving in the House of Delegates. For one, it’s considered a full-time job and has a salary to match. Council members make $128,519 a year. Delegates are officially part time and were paid $46,915 in 2016. They can expect a salary increase of $1,707, or 3.6 percent, in 2017, according to the General Assembly Compensation Commission.
Another benefit: Council members have full-time staff and delegates don’t, Sen. Richard Madaleno said.
Another reason to run is that council members can have more impact as one of nine than as one delegate among 141 state lawmakers, delegates said. And there’s been little change in the leadership in the State House, which means less opportunity for advancement, Madaleno said.
“I’m definitely thinking about running for council District 1,” said Del. Marc Korman, who is one of three Bethesda-area Democrats in the House of Delegates. “I haven’t made any decisions yet. I really like my current job, but it’s a great opportunity.”
Del. Ariana Kelly, another Bethesda Democrat, said she favors working on state issues, but she said she’s keeping her options open.
Two current council members already made the switch. Rice served as a delegate representing District 39 from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, he won a seat on the council.
Council member Tom Hucker served two terms as a delegate representing District 20, which covers Silver Spring and Takoma Park. In 2014, he won his seat on the council.