Reardon Sullivan (left) and Marc Elrich. Credit: Submitted Photos

After more than a month of waiting since primary Election Day, Reardon Sullivan finally knows which Democrat he will face in the November general election for county executive: incumbent Marc Elrich. 

The Republican nominee said on Friday that he preferred to run against Elrich rather than runner-up David Blair because there’s a clearer difference between Elrich and Sullivan’s policy positions on areas such as policing, education  and economic development. 

Blair, a Potomac businessman, lost to Elrich by 32 votes earlier this week. The two had to wait for weeks after the primary election, as county election workers counted more than 75,000 mail-in ballots — a process that couldn’t begin until two days after Election Day, due to state law and Gov. Larry Hogan vetoing legislation that would have, along with other initiatives, allowed mail-in ballots to be counted before Election Day. 

“My campaign against Marc Elrich gives the voters a completely different perspective,” Sullivan said.  

Sullivan quickly rattled off some priorities he would address: 

  • He thinks police officers should be paid more, to better compete with other local jurisdictions who also need to hire officers. Elrich and the County Council recently approved a 3.5% raise for police officers in July 2022, and an additional 3% raise in January 2023.  
  • Sullivan said the county needs to streamline its permitting process and simplify its regulations for new buildings and additions. Specifically, he believes new environmental requirements for new construction and additions are cumbersome to developers and other partners 
  • The county executive needs to encourage the Board of Education and Montgomery County Public Schools to focus more on core subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), Sullivan said. 

Regarding development, Sullivan said that the county should pursue more incentives for private property owners who use the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold standard for new buildings and renovations. The county should offer tax credits for property owners that go over the required “innovation points,” a metric used under the LEED model that scores how energy-efficient and environmentally friendly a building is, Sullivan said. 


He agrees with Elrich and other county officials that climate change is an issue, and that building energy use is a major contributor.  But recent legislation that Elrich signed includes a “Building Performance Improvement Board” to review and help create standards for each type of building, which Sullivan finds burdensome  for businesses and property owners. 

“We all agree that roughly 40% of the energy used is for our buildings,” said Sullivan, who is an engineer by trade and is LEED-certified. “But Marc Elrich wants to have another agency that creates green requirements for buildings for construction that new businesses have to comply with. And this is yet another stepping stone or hurdle that businesses have to overcome to have projects built.” 

Elrich said earlier this week that he stands by his record in his first term, and is optimistic that residents will approve of it when voting in the general election. It’s also important that they select Democrats up and down the ballot, including for governor and other statewide positions, he said. 


“It’s just making sure we talk to people and remind them of what we’ve done, and what we’re looking to do,” Elrich said. “Our success is in a lot of ways tied to success at the state level because the county has always been dependent — for a lot of capital projects — on how the state approaches our needs.” 

In an interview Friday, Elrich said the following regarding Sullivan’s criticisms: 

  • He and the County Council recently increased police pay, which brought salary from one of the lowest starting positions in the region to near the top. “Our next recruit class is already over 30 people,” Elrich said of the impact that decision has had. 
  • On building energy performance standards and using tax credits to encourage building that meets LEED certifications, Elrich said those requirements are not sufficent enough to meet the current challenges presented by climate change. 
  • Elrich didn’t disagree with Sullivan that the school system could focus more on core subjects, particularly when it comes to training high school students for trade jobs and careers outside of higher education. But he added the state and county Board of Education set the curriculum and standards, not the county executive or county government.  

Some political observers have noted that Del. Dan Cox (representing Frederick and Carroll counties), the Republican candidate for governor, could hurt down-ballot candidates like Sullivan. Cox organized buses to the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, and called former Vice President Mike Pence a traitor during the storming of the U.S. Capitol building. Sullivan declined to comment on whether he shares Cox’s opinion about the presidential election, or whether Cox’s campaign will affect his chances.  


“I’m not going to get into it because I’m not focused on it,” Sullivan said. “I’m going to let other people who have a dog in that fight get into that. I need to focus on Montgomery County.” 

He added he knows he has a difficult task in November, as Democrats outnumber Republicans by about 4 to 1 in Montgomery County. But he added there are many unaffiliated, or independent, voters that could participate, and targeting their support will be important. 

The first and only Republican county executive in Montgomery County history was James Gleason, who served from 1970 to 1978. 


He noted that Elrich received less than 40% of votes in the Democratic primary this year. Elrich dismissed that point earlier this week. He said that 60% of voters in the race didn’t choose Blair, and instead voted for another candidate. Also, 80% of voters didn’t choose County Council Hans Riemer, the third-place candidate of four in the race, Elrich added. 

The incumbent added that other county executives around the state have won without majorities.

Elrich said Friday that he feels “fine” about his chances in November, given how the county has shifted politically since 1970. And he was matter-of-fact about the differences between himself and Sullivan. 


“We just kind of view things differently,” Elrich said. “I’m not a Republican … We just have a different approach.” 

Sullivan acknowledged he has a difficult task at unseating Elrich. 

“In a lot of ways, I have an uphill battle,” Sullivan said. “I’ve been telling people that I have to punch above my weight.”