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Tom DeGonia

Where you live: Olney

Date of birth: Feb. 20, 1971

Current occupation and employer:

Practicing attorney. Partner at the Rockville firm of Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, Rowan & Hartinger. President of the Montgomery County Bar Foundation. Past president of the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation.

Political experience:

Ran for unsuccessfully for Maryland House of Delegates District 19 in 2006)

Website: https://tomdegonia2022.com

Email: tom@tomdegonia2022.com

Facebook: Tom DeGonia for Montgomery County States Attorney

Twitter: @tomformoco2022

Instagram: @tomformoco2022

Why are you running for this office?

We can’t prosecute individuals the same way we have for the last 20 years and expect better outcomes. My office will focus on violent crimes, including guns and domestic violence; reform juvenile justice and treat kids like kids; implement community based prosecution to increase accountability and work with our schools, police, non-profits and faith organizations to address root causes of crime. My prosecutors will be empowered problem solvers, not simply case processors.

What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it?

There are many important issues including transparency, systemic racism and a failing juvenile justice system. However, privately manufactured firearms (PMFs), also known as ”ghost guns,” are flooding our community. This epidemic has been years in the making. There is currently no gun unit in the State’s Attorney’s Office. I have consulted with state, local and federal firearms experts to create a FireArms Safety Task Force. FAST is a multidisciplinary unit led by experienced and specially trained prosecutors to prosecute and holistically address illegal firearms possession, specifically PMFs. We will partner with Montgomery County Public Schools, social services, and community stakeholders to identify and address the root causes of gun violence in schools; divert at-risk populations to services; engage community groups to teach alternative conflict resolution strategies to at-risk populations; critically study issues of gun violence and drive evidence-based interventions.

What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office?

I was a prosecutor in Montgomery County for eight years, leading a felony prosecution unit and serving as the first male prosecutor on the domestic violence docket. I served as president of the Family Justice Center Foundation for 12 years, assisting survivors of intimate partner violence. While in private practice, I was asked to serve as a special prosecutor in Prince George’s and Wicomico counties. My peers elected me president of the Montgomery County Bar Association. I led the Bar through the COVID pandemic and a racial reckoning. I hired the first person of color in the Bar’s history as executive director and recruited and helped to elect the first woman of color as the next president. I am the only candidate who has an active criminal practice in Montgomery County involving felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile matters. I have the legal experience, leadership experience and vison to lead the office into a safer and more equitable future.

John McCarthy 

Where you live: Gaithersburg

Date of Birth: March 3, 1952

Current occupation and employer: State’s attorney for Montgomery County Maryland, 2006-present; associate professor at Montgomery College, paralegal studies program, 1985-present

Political Experience:  Elected state’s attorney: 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018

Website:  www.johnmccarthy.us

Twitter:  @McCarthyMoco

Facebook: @McCarthyMoco

Instagram: @McCarthyMoco

Why are you running for this office: I am a career public servant who has served as the state’s attorney for the past 16 years.  During my tenure as state’s attorney, I have established a record of reform and innovation within the Montgomery County State’s Attorney Office. I oversee an office of 170 employees and manage a nearly 20-million-dollar budget. In my 26 years serving as deputy state’s attorney and state’s attorney, I have navigated this office through the sniper crisis, a recession, and a global pandemic. All of those experiences have prepared me to deal with today’s unique challenges. Throughout the nation and within our community, we are currently facing a crisis of faith in the criminal justice system. My vast experience as state’s attorney allows me the opportunity to best serve the community as we address issues of racial fairness, transparency, public safety, increasing gun violence and youth crime in Montgomery County. 

What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it: There are multiple issues of importance in this race including reducing youth violence, denying access of handguns, particularly ghost guns, to children and convicted felons, and establishing safety in our schools. We must tackle those important issues in a transparent and open manner in order to earn the trust of all members of our community. I am actively working to address issues relating to school safety and violence committed by minors by engaging in a youth violence reduction task force with multiple county partners. Additionally, I work daily with Montgomery County Public Schools officials to ensure a safe learning environment for our children. In the recently concluded legislative session, I worked alongside legislators to pass a bill banning the possession and distribution of ghost guns. I have also established a gun safety task force so that we are better equipped to investigate and more effectively prosecute gun crimes. Finally, I am working with Prosecutorial Performance Indicators to create a forward facing dashboard which will allow us to be more transparent with the community.

What experience political or other do you have to hold this office?  I have been involved in the management of this office as deputy state’s attorney or state’s attorney for the past 26 years. During that time, this office has gained both a state and national reputation as one of the finest county prosecution offices in the nation.  I am a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the highest honor a trial lawyer can receive in the United States. As a trial attorney and leader within the office, I was instrumental in securing convictions in hundreds of cases. I have been involved in virtually every significant case in Montgomery County for the past 35 years. I have previously been the president of the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Maryland State’s Attorney Association.  I have taught at multiple colleges and universities and internationally on behalf of the U.S. government on issues related to rule of law.  My most recent teaching assignments for the U.S. government were in Russia and the Ukraine. 

Throughout my tenure as state’s attorney, this office has continued to evolve and serve as a model for other offices around the state and the nation. We were the first prosecutor’s office in the nation to independently investigate police use of force matters resulting in death.  We have established specialty courts to include a mental health court and a drug court.  We began a truancy prevention program, an opiate prevention program, an internet safety program, an anti-bullying program, a healthy teen dating program, a hate crime reduction task force, and a gun violence task force. No office in this state comes close to the number of educational and diversionary programs offered by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney Office which I run.

Bernice Mireku-North

Where you live: Silver Spring

Date of Birth: Oct. 29, 1981

Current occupation/employer: Managing attorney, The North Law Group, LLC, Self-Employed

Political Experience: 2013 Graduate of Emerge Maryland, a training for Democratic women interested in running for office. 

Website: www.mirekunorth.com

Email: Bernice@mirekunorth.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mirekunorth

Twitter: www.twitter.com/mirekunorth

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mirekunorth

Why are you running for this office?

Our county deserves to have a leader fight for equal access to diversion programs, restorative justice for our youth and accountability to restore trust in the criminal justice system.  I have the fresh vision, varied experiences and proven leadership needed for the future of Montgomery County. A MCPS graduate and a mother, I’m invested in making all communities safer regardless of race or ZIP code.

What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it?

The key issue is equity in how cases are handled. Over the years, there have been concerns over a lack of fairness in decisions about prosecution. I propose hiring at least one diversion coordinator to evaluate options in the community, or alternatives to prosecution, prior to a prosecutor getting assigned a case. The goal would be to address the root cause of the criminal activity and restore communities, while minimizing harm and risk. I’ll supplement legal training with peer reviews of decision-making in cases and education of the racial history of criminal justice. 

What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office?

I bring a distinct lens to what justice should look like for the future of Montgomery County. Coming from an immigrant family, I learned what justice looked like through my two judicial clerkships. I’ve served as a prosecutor and a defense attorney. I’ve lead teams, and fostered community, through active listening and clear communication. I’ve developed relationships with community and County leaders and understand that realizing a vision takes collaboration.  My experience and vision reflect and resonate with the diversity of Montgomery County.

Perry Paylor

Where you live: Silver Spring

Date of birth: Aug. 11, 1968

Current occupation and employer:

Perry Paylor serves as deputy state’s attorney in Prince George’s County, where he helps oversee up to 1,000 cases and a $19 million annual budget and oversees the Guns & Drugs Unit, Major Crimes Unit, Post Trial Unit, and grand jury screening.

Prior to his role as Deputy State’s Attorney, Paylor served as Chief of the Guns and Drugs Unit in the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Office.

He also owned and operated a private law practice for 14 years.

Political experience:

Perry Paylor is a proven community leader. He has served with numerous civic and community organizations including:
Montgomery County Charter Review Commission
Montgomery County Juvenile Justice Commission
Board of Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology Foundation at Montgomery College (PICMC)
Leadership Montgomery CORE 2020
Kingdom Fellowship AME Church
Silver Spring Alumni Chapter – Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
Montgomery County Maryland National Hampton Alumni Association
Paylor has been an adjunct professor at Bowie State University in Bowie. He is a member of several bar associations including the American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Maryland State Bar Association, and the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association.

Website: https://perrypaylor.com/

Email: perry@perrypaylor.com

Facebook: @perrypaylormoco

Twitter: @perrypaylor

Instagram: @perrypaylor4moco

Why are you running for this office?

I am running for state’s attorney because justice is evolving across the country, yet it is not evolving at the appropriate pace here in Montgomery County. In May 2020, 54% of county jail prisoners were Black and 100% of juveniles prosecuted as adults were youth of color. This situation must change. My experience – professional and lived – is unique among the candidates seeking office. Once elected, I will rebuild trust in the criminal justice system by increasing transparency, expanding diversion opportunities for youthful offenders, holding law enforcement professionals accountable, and working to eliminate bias so that all residents are treated fairly under the law.

What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it?

I will prioritize both safety and justice by addressing violent crime in our community. I have advocated at the state level for banning non-serialized weapons and will partner will law enforcement and community groups on strategies to reduce crime.

I will work to regain trust in criminal justice system by establishing a conviction and sentencing integrity unit to ensure police and prosecutor accountability.

We must modernize our management practices through the elimination of the antiquated cash bail system, expanding diversion opportunities for youthful offenders, and by keeping youth in juvenile court. Additionally, we will embed behavioral health resources into the State’s Attorney office that allow us to see the whole person when making recommendations to the Court.

What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office?

I am a Montgomery County native and product of the county’s rich public school system, youth sports, and faith community. I currently live less than an hour away from my childhood home. I am an experienced business and community leader who understands how economic development, environmental changes, and poverty impact crime. I am a seasoned lawyer and current deputy state’s attorney committed to safety and social justice reform. In my current role as deputy state’s attorney in Prince George’s County, I help to oversee up to 1,000 cases and a $19 million annual budget and oversee the Guns & Drugs Unit, Major Crimes Unit, Post Trial Unit, and Grand Jury Screening. I personally oversee several diversion programs as deputy state’s attorney. I have the executive and managerial experience, as well as the lived experience and passion to lead the State’s Attorney Office at this critical time in our country.