Montgomery County’s Invisible Candidates Deserve Consideration

classical courthouse

Barack Obama is president, Anthony Brown is running for governor of Maryland, and Ike Leggett has been County Executive in Montgomery County for two terms. However, political power and representation remain somewhat concentrated in America, to say the least. The wealthy and privileged still dominate American politics. It would be naive to think it will ever be much different. But we can try, here and there.

I’ve been following the news coverage and the interest group endorsements for Montgomery County candidates in the June 24 Democratic primary. It appears to me that several well-qualified African-American candidates who would speak for working people and the children of working people, both black and white, are not getting the attention they deserve. It’s probably a matter of lack of campaign contributions. Money rules in American politics, plain and simple. More so now than ever. Some misguided endorsements by The Washington Post also play a role.

Before you vote, you might want to consider a few candidates who have often been overlooked or too quickly dismissed in the run-up to the election.

Laurie-Anne Sayles in District 17

In my district, Gaithersburg and Rockville, District 17, please consider Laurie-Anne Sayles as one of three delegates to the Maryland General Assembly. She’s 32-years-old and has an MPA in health policy. The sky’s the limit for her in Maryland politics. But first she needs the support of a few voters. I think Ms. Sayles has a very real chance to win one of the three seats in District 17. She’s been endorsed by the Gazette and NOW, among others, but not by The Post. She’s young and untested in public office, but so is nearly every first-time candidate.

For reasons unclear to me, the Democratic establishment and many interest groups have lined up behind a District 17 candidate who’s even younger than Ms. Sayles, and not as well-educated. The young man with all the support is both personable and very smart, by all accounts. But he’s barely old enough to rent a car, and he has virtually no real-life work experience. Just my opinion. He’ll be a more worthy candidate four years hence.

You might be interested in the voter guide at http://voterguide.wamu.org/ You can compare Laurie-Anne Sayles side-by-side with Andrew Platt, and the contrast is eye-opening.

To be clear, the two District 17 incumbents, Del. Jim Gilchrist and Del. Kumar Barve, deserve re-election. Ms. Sayles would be an excellent choice for the open third seat formerly held by Luiz Simmons.

Vivian Malloy for County Council

For the four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council, please consider Olney resident  Vivian Malloy as one of your choices. She has more than 20 years experience in the Army Nurse Corps, many years as a progressive activist in Montgomery County, and two terms on the Democratic Central Committee. That’s the kind of life experience and dedication to community that impresses me. Among all the at-large candidates, she is the strongest advocate for affordable housing and jobs. Ms. Malloy has gained a number of endorsements from significant interest groups, such as the AFL-CIO, CASA, and NARAL. She also has the support of Kweisi Mfume, former Maryland congressman and president of the NAACP.

It’s a mystery to me why Ms. Malloy’s candidacy has gained little traction in Montgomery County. I suppose the obvious answer is that she’s running against four incumbents. However, the only other challenger, a woman with a good resume but no experience in public office, is getting lots of attention and endorsements. Go figure.

Christopher Barclay in Council District 5

For the Montgomery County Council in District 5, please consider voting for Christopher Barclay.

Mr. Barclay, a respected School Board member and former president of the School Board, has been unfairly pilloried for the moral equivalent of jaywalking while chewing gum.

It’s interesting that Mr. Barclay was poised to move up to higher office when a so-called “scandal” came out of left field and mildly tarnished his reputation. Mr. Barclay was a leading candidate for Montgomery County Council when information suddenly became public about minor credit card issues. The issues were rapidly resolved, but not before the Montgomery County Education Association and the SEIU rescinded endorsements of the candidate. These are two of the most highly prized endorsements in the county.

The MCEA also took pains NOT to endorse any of the alternative candidates in District 5. Draw your own conclusions. Here’s what MCEA had to say:

“We also believe that Chris Barclay has been – and we hope will continue to be – an important voice for our county’s neediest students, schools and neighborhoods …We believe Chris can have a good future in public service in the county. But in light of the recent news and financial disclosures, we cannot recommend him in this race at this time.”

Christopher Barclay was a respected public servant and a leading candidate for County Council before, and nothing of substance has changed. I believe he remains a viable candidate, worthy of even-handed consideration in District 5. If I lived in District 5, I believe I would vote for Mr. Barclay. Just my opinion.

Aisha Braveboy for Attorney General

For attorney general, Sen. Brian Frosh is clearly a candidate of distinction, and probably the most well-qualified candidate. However, Del. Aisha Braveboy is a qualified attorney and experienced member of the General Assembly. Ms. Braveboy would bring a new and different perspective to the important statewide office of Attorney General. She makes a strong case for diverting first-time offenders from the criminal justice system and helping them get on the path to employment. She was a strong supporter of the minimum wage increase. Ms. Braveboy deserves more consideration than she has received.

Disclaimer

My opinions about politics and candidates are no more valid than your own. Don’t consider the above opinions to be endorsements. Please make your own voting decisions.

The time may come when race, color, and ethnicity are no longer a big deal in America. Sadly, that day is somewhere down the road. I hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers here.

The League of Women Voters Guide is a good source of candidate information.

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Your comments are welcome. Comments will be moderated before publication.

— John Hayden

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6 Comments

Filed under Democracy, Maryland

6 responses to “Montgomery County’s Invisible Candidates Deserve Consideration

  1. hmmm

    Good post and important topic. MoCo needs elected officials who look more like its population, if for nothing else to gain some traction on the school construction funding issue in Annapolis.

    Saying that, I think Vivian Malloy hasn’t been getting much coverage because she hasn’t really said much of consequence. Not sure she has much grasp of the issues, just based on her responses in several public forums. As for Barclay, many who know better would tell you he wasn’t the best candidate there before the credit card scandal. And the credit card deal shouldn’t be passed off as inconsequential.

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    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      I think Ms. Malloy’s comments on affordable housing are important. Everybody in MoCo gives lip service to affordable housing, but I think Ms. Malloy is serious.

      Regarding the credit card thing . . . I have several credit cards in my wallet to try to keep my personal expenses organized. And I quite frequently use the wrong card by mistake. Expense accounts should be reimbursed based on receipts, rather than depending on a credit card.

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      • Anonymous

        The problem is that Barclay didn’t properly document his receipts, either. For example: what was the educational purpose of the meeting at Buffalo Wild Wings in College Park where he charges three orders of hot wings to the taxpayers? Who was he meeting with? The BOE handbook requires that documentation. And the charges for chocolate covered cashews? What’s the educational purpose for that?

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      • There is a lot more to Mr. Barclay’s credit card use than simply pulling out the wrong card. Maybe that’s why you don’t understand why this is such a big issue.

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  2. @ Mr or Ms Anonymous: It doesn’t take much research or effort to ridicule piddly expenses for three orders of wild wings, or lunch at a fast-food restaurant. Meanwhile, overpayments and questionable costs in the tens of thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands, are routinely made by government agencies to contractors, with no publicity at all.

    Now is as good a time as any to point out that nearly all the slander being spewed abut nickel-and-dime expenses comes from people named “Anonymous,” or “Hmmm,” or whatever. For more than 40 years, I’ve never been afraid to have my name on the front page of a newspaper or my name associated with every one of my blog posts, as well as my comments on other people’s blogs. As a retired editor and sometimes reporter, and as a responsible blogger for seven years, I can tell you that neither professional journalists nor professional prosecutors give credence to information from “anonymous.” Professionals wait for reliable evidence of intentional bad conduct. Any questions about that?

    In the issue at hand, a man has been charged, tried, and convicted in the blogosphere for the pettiest of petty mistakes or errors in judgement. Almost all the meals at issue are very low-cost lunches. The amounts of money involved are petty. But a man’s reputation and career are at risk. There are no pending criminal, civil, or administrative charges of wrongdoing. And none seem likely. It’s not a crime to make a miscalculation regarding a few dollars, or to be sloppy about the details of paperwork.

    Unless I’m mistaken, these minor mistakes in the handling of expenses have all been resolved with no credible indication of intentional wrongdoing. No money has been stolen. No money is missing. Any errors have been reimbursed. In fact, probably most of these expenses fall into a borderline gray area, where good people might differ on what constitutes an expense while conducting county business, and what should be paid out of a person’s own pocket.

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  3. @ Parents Coalition “There is a lot more to Mr. Barclay’s credit card use”

    Thank you for your comment. If there is a “lot more,” perhaps you could be a lot more specific about any alleged wrongdoing. Or, if you do not want to be specific in public, turn your information over to the police. Also, in the future, please include the names of the officers of your organization.

    I see that Mr. Barclay is not the only member of the School Board being criticized regarding expenses. In fact, your group seems to criticize nearly every member of the School Board and the County Council regularly. Watchdog groups like yours often provide a valuable service. I commend you for your longstanding efforts.

    I see indications that School Board members may be complying with official policy regarding expenses. To the extent that board members are complying with approved county policy, the board members are acting correctly. If the policy itself needs to be changed, I’m sure your watchdog group will work to get the policy modified.

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