Former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, the second highest ranking official in the Montgomery County Planning Department, said Tuesday that she is considering running for county executive in the 2018 Democratic primary. She said she will decide within the next month.
“I’m still in the consideration stage,” Krasnow said in a telephone interview, adding, “I don’t think I would be talking to you if I wasn’t seriously interested.”
Four Democrats are in the field so far—County Council members George Leventhal, Marc Elrich and Roger Berliner and state Delegate Bill Frick. Robin Ficker is running on the Republican ticket.
Since “the field is clearly forming,” Krasnow said, “I think without a doubt that if I’m going to get in, I’m going to need to decide for sure within the month of October.”
The filing deadline for next June’s primary is Feb. 27.
If she runs, Krasnow would be vying to be the first woman elected Montgomery County executive in the nearly five decades the job has existed.
“I think that we really need some diversity of candidates … and I think it’s very important that women get involved,” said Krasnow, the president of Montgomery Women, an organization that encourages women to pursue elected office and other leadership roles.
Krasnow, a resident of Rockville for 37 years, said she also is concerned about the geographical diversity of the existing candidate field “because the current council people [running for executive] are all downcounty folks.”
Elrich and Leventhal, who are at-large council members, live in Takoma Park. Berliner, who represents District 1, lives in North Bethesda. They are term limited in their current positions.
Frick is from Bethesda. He switched to the executive race after initially running for Maryland’s 6th District seat in Congress.
Ficker lives in Boyds.
Krasnow was first elected to the Rockville City Council in 1991. She served two terms before she became mayor in 1995. She was mayor for three terms before stepping down in 2001.
Three years later, Krasnow—who holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning—went to work for the county’s Planning Department, where she has been deputy director since 2013. She said she would retire from that position if she decides to run for county executive.
If she runs, Krasnow would highlight her résumé to distinguish herself.
“I do really think that having served in an executive capacity is important. … I think that sets me apart in some ways,” she said. “I was surprised when I was in Rockville how different it was to go from being on the council to being mayor.”
She cited her government experience at both the city and county level. “I have served 10 years in the city of Rockville and now 13 years in the county, so I really think I have a good feel for the whole county,” she said.
As a long-time county planning official, Krasnow’s presence in the race could intensify the debate over economic development and growth. Elrich is known for his slow-growth views, and has taken swipes at the county Planning Department—an arm of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission—as “Park and Paving.”
“I think we disagree on what’s best for this county,” Krasnow said of Elrich. “I believe that to continue to grow and keep our Triple A bond rating, to be viewed as a great place to live, we can’t stop growth. We need to be attractive, we need to keep our schools at high quality and we have to increase our tax base to do that—not by raising taxes on residents, but by bringing in more businesses who really want to be a part of this county.”
At 66, Krasnow acknowledged she had been contemplating retirement, but the 2016 presidential election altered her thinking.
“I think the last presidential election really affected me in terms of making me realize that [those in leadership] haven’t made the progress that I wanted them to have made,” she said. “And so I decided I should consider actually doing it myself.”
Krasnow said she remains undecided about whether to tap into the county’s new public campaign finance system if she runs.
“Public financing is one of the things that is attracting more people to run, and I think that’s great,” she said, referring to the nearly three dozen County Council at-large candidates in the field, “but I haven’t made a decision yet.”
Of the current Democratic candidates, Elrich and Leventhal are using public financing, while Berliner is raising money through private donations. Frick also has said he would not seek public financing.
Krasnow is not the only potential addition to the current field.
Another Rockville-based female politician with a similar base, state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, said late last week that she is considering running for county executive and will make a decision soon.
Kagan, whose Senate seat is up for election next year, has been mentioned as a possible running mate to several Democratic gubernatorial contenders.
Also in the potential mix are former District 2 County Council member Mike Knapp, who has expressed interest on several occasions over the past year but has yet to decide, and health care executive David Blair. Blair is reported to be polling about his chances, but for months has repeatedly declined to respond to media inquiries about his interest in the contest.
Current County Executive Ike Leggett is barred by last year’s term-limits referendum from running again, but announced prior to that vote that he did not intend to seek a fourth four-year term.