January-February 2022

Newcomer Devin Battley hopes to shake up the county executive race

The motorcycle enthusiast and president of the owners' association in Lindbergh Park says he's tired of county officials "making everything so difficult."

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Photo by Joseph Tran

A political novice who has spent much of his career racing and selling motorcycles is a late entry into the Democratic primary for county executive, joining four higher-profile political veterans.

“I’m a wild card, but I’m not a Robin Ficker. OK?” wisecracks Derwood resident Devin Battley, referring to the longtime gadfly of Montgomery County politics.

In contrast to Ficker, a Republican who has run for office no fewer than 20 times (all but once unsuccessfully), Battley, at 71, is making his first run for public office. And he may be a bit kinder and gentler, as well.
“Anything I have to say about the other candidates I’m always going to preface it with a compliment—and then just put in my comment on why I would be better,” he vows. “Is that a polite way of doing it or what?”

What Battley does appear to share with the often cantankerous Ficker is a vocal contempt for the manner in which county government is run.

“That’s my big problem: Montgomery County—they make everything so difficult,” Battley asserts. Of his candidacy, he asks rhetorically: “Why do I want to do this? I just wish I could do something to end the fraud, waste and abuse of our taxpayers. Anytime you want to do something productive in this county, you experience…government departments [that] just want to extort stuff from you.”

For two decades, Battley has been president of the owners’ association in Lindbergh Park, a 54-acre light industrial area near Gaithersburg. A trigger for his foray into electoral politics was the county’s decision in mid-2021 to appeal a state Tax Court ruling granting thousands of dollars in tax credits to Lindbergh Park property owners for stormwater runoff improvements.

Battley acknowledges “the county totally upset me” by appealing the case after a five-year legal battle over the Water Quality Protection Charge—derided by critics as the “rain tax.” But that isn’t his only beef with the county.
“…They’re trying to make it as difficult as possible for me to do a solar farm on my agricultural property,” he charges—referring to 93 acres he owns just outside the county’s Agricultural Reserve. He complains of “absurd and ridiculous requirements” that he says county officials want to impose.

Born in Arlington, Virginia, Battley became involved in motorcycle racing while in the trucking business. In 1984, he purchased a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership in Rockville—now located near Gaithersburg—that he sold three years ago. Among his customers, he says: the late King Hussein of Jordan, a motorcycle enthusiast.

Battley became a county resident in 1991, and says he has been a registered Democrat ever since. In 2008, he chaired a task force created by the Maryland General Assembly to define all-terrain vehicles and how they should be regulated.

He has filed his intent to tap into the county’s public campaign funding program. “What’s my campaign based on right now? I’m Devin Battley, the one-man band,” he says, adding with a chuckle, “I do have a girl Friday”— Maryna Gusciora, the campaign’s treasurer.