William Roberts, a civil rights attorney and longtime community organizer, said he is running for a Montgomery County Council district seat.
Roberts, a Clarksburg Democrat, said in an interview that he has been interested in issues affecting upcounty for about the past decade.
The district lines for the County Council still need to be finalized, but Roberts said there will be a “confluence of change” on the council. Council Member Craig Rice — who currently represents Roberts’ district — is term-limited and cannot run again. Also, two new council seats will be up for election next year.
The only candidate who has filed to run in District 2 is Marilyn Balcombe, the president and CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce.
Roberts said Thursday that he has strong experience on local and national issues as managing director for democracy and government reform at Center for American Progress and as U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin’s first legislative director and chief counsel.
Some of the main issues in the county that Roberts identified include land use, transportation, planning, housing, and economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. County officials and other leaders also need to look at inequities countywide in education, job opportunities and food insecurity, Roberts said.
“For a lot of people like myself, we’ve been ringing the bell for a while about the disparities in the community,” he said. “And perhaps unfortunately, COVID was the thing that took the blinders off for some people.”
Roberts believes his resume speaks for itself.
“If you look at what I’ve been doing in the civic, political and nonprofit space, I’m somebody who really is in tune with the needs of our communities up here and understands the leadership we’re looking for,” Roberts said.
As candidates run for County Council next year, a new map will determine who is running for which district.
County voters approved a ballot issue in November 2020 that increases the number of council districts from five to seven, and the overall number of council seats from nine to 11.
Candidates and who are running or considering running include:
• Council Member Andrew Friedson, a Democrat, announced he is seeking re-election to his current seat
• Roberts is running. Balcombe, a Democrat, announced her candidacy in April. Rice, a Democrat, is term-limited.
• Council Member Sidney Katz, a Democrat, has said he plans to run again for this seat.
• Council Member Nancy Navarro, a Democrat, is term-limited and is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.
Four candidates for County Council District 4, all Democrats, are:
• Natali Fani-González, a former member of the county’s Planning Board and a business/PR consultant
• Omar Lazo, co-owner of Los Chorros Restaurant in Wheaton
• Maricé Morales, an attorney and former state delegate
• Paul Schwartz, a former columnist for the Sentinel newspapers and currently a lobbyist in Annapolis, focusing on representing current and retired federal employees
• County Council President Tom Hucker, a Democrat, has said he is exploring a run for county executive, but has not ruled out running for re-election.
Democrat Fatmata Barrie, a White Oak resident and attorney, is running for a district seat, which currently would be this one. Brian Anleu, a Democrat who is chief of staff to the county’s Planning Board, has expressed interest, but wants to see what Hucker decides to do and how district lines are finalized.
Multiple Democrats have either filed, announced or shown interest. The candidates who have filed are:
• Council Member Gabe Albornoz
• Council Member Evan Glass
• Scott Goldberg, an attorney and member of the county’s Democratic Central Committee
• Kim Kellerman of Poolesville, a mother of four
• Laurie-Anne Sayles, a Gaithersburg City Council member and Food and Drug Administration employee
• Brandy Brooks of Wheaton, an education and nonprofit leader
• Christa Tichy of Rockville, who works in construction.
Council Member Will Jawando and Kristin Mink have both announced they’re running. Mink, a former Montgomery County Public Schools teacher, works at The Center for Popular Democracy.
Neil Harris, a Gaithersburg City Council member, has filed his intent to use the county’s public election fund in an at-large race.
• Incumbent Marc Elrich, At-Large Council Member Hans Riemer and businessman David Blair, all Democrats, have all said they’re running.
Hucker has expressed interest in the seat, as has Devin Battley, a former motorcycle shop owner in Gaithersburg. Both Hucker and Battley are Democrats.
The filing deadline for next year’s elections is Feb. 22. The primary election is scheduled for June 28, and the general election is set for Nov. 8.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com