Not only are the three delegates, members of Maryland’s 18th state legislative district delegation, and state Sen. Richard Madaleno seeking re-election, but they are running as a team, sharing mailings and often going door-to-door together.
“Incumbency is a racket,” declared Dana Beyer, who hopes to unseat, Madaleno who has represented the district that includes parts of Wheaton, Kensington, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Bethesda and Rockville since 2007.
“Anytime you are running against an incumbent, it’s harder,” said Beyer, a 62-year-old eye surgeon who is the national chair of the board of advisers of Freedom to Work, an LGBT organization dedicated to equality in employment. She accused those who stay in Annapolis for many years as being there for the social life: “Once you get to a certain age, you get comfortable. You don’t want to leave.”
But Del. Jeffrey Waldstreicher, who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2006, said the decision to run as a team is not about incumbency.
“It’s about how do we best get our progressive message out,” he explained. The four people representing District 18 “see eye to eye” and it was only natural to pool some resources.
The other two incumbents are Dels. Al Carr, who began serving in 2007, and Ana Sol Gutierrez, who is seeking her fourth term. Voters in the June primary will choose three candidates for delegate from the seven who are running. There are no Republicans on the ballot.
Waldstreicher called the District 18 representatives a diverse delegation, pointing out that he is Jewish, Madaleno is gay, Guteirrez is Latino and Carr is the only African American who currently represents Montgomery County.
Trying to unseat the three delegates are Natali Fani-Gonzalez, Rick Kessler, Elizabeth Matory and Emily Shetty.
In the state Senate race, Madaleno is pitted against Beyer, a transgendered candidate. But Beyer sees this as a nonissue. When often asked how she feels about two LGBT candidates facing each other, she said, “My response is when is the last time you complained when a heterosexual ran against a heterosexual?”
Before moving on to the Senate, Madaleno had served in the House of Delegates for four years. Beyer unsuccessfully has run for delegate in both 2006 and 2010.
“I believe Montgomery County deserves a lot better” in terms of who represents the area and what they are doing to improve it, said Beyer. “We are considered the county whose streets are paved in gold. That’s just not true anymore.”
If elected, Beyer, who attended an Orthodox Jewish day school, would “fight the inequality,” she said. “We need to tackle that.”
She pointed to other issues she considered important, including increasing the minimum wage and mandating paid sick and family leave.
“I am motivated by my Jewish upbringing, my Jewish values,” said the member of Tifereth Israel Congregation.
In the delegate race, Waldstreicher, said he hopes to continue his fight in Annapolis to increase the minimum wage.
He says he would prefer the minimum wage to be $11.75. The father of three young children would also like to see universal preschool established throughout the state: “It’s expensive,” he said, “but it’s worth the money down the line.”
Waldstreicher, a member of Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase who is active with the Jewish Social Service Agency and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, also would like to bring more night life to the downtown areas of Silver Spring and Bethesda by letting establishments stay open later and increasing allowable decibel levels.
Carr is a member of the Environmental Matters Committee and its subcommittees on transportation, land use and ethics.
Before becoming a delegate, he was a councilman and mayor pro tem in Kensington.
Gutierrez was born in El Salvador and is the first Latino elected to serve in the Maryland state house, which she has been doing for the past 11 years. She is the most senior member of the Montgomery County legislators to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.
Among the challengers, Kessler has spent 20 years working in government relations. He would like to raise the minimum wage and expand who has access to “quality, affordable child care,” he said.
If elected, he said he would work toward cleaning up the environment. He described himself as an advocate of efficient and affordable energy.
“I may be a Democrat, but I am opposed to regressive taxes,” added Kessler, who is a member of Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, where he plays bass guitar in the band. He also is involved with Jews United For Justice.
Fani-Gonzalez was born in Venezuela and came to Maryland when she was 16. On her campaign website, she describes herself as a human and civil rights activist and entrepreneur “who lived in poverty and had to help her mother clean houses in Chevy Chase and Potomac on weekends while going through high school.” She founded a public relations firm, Matea Group.
Matory is a lawyer who expects to receive her master’s in business administration from the University of Maryland this year.
Shetty, an attorney, is active in the Democratic Party in Montgomery County. She is the head of federal legislative affairs for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.