Two experienced members of the Montgomery County Council are running to succeed County Executive Isiah Leggett. Between the two of them — Nancy Floreen, a Democrat turned independent, and Mark Elrich, the Democratic candidate — they have been involved in county political activity for some 60 years. They are both progressives, in a progressive county, in a blue state.
Between the two, we endorse Floreen for the county executive post. We do not view Robin Ficker, the Republican on the ballot, as a serious candidate. In Floreen, who has been a council member since 2002 and was on the county planning commission and mayor of Garrett Park before that, we see a long record of success, along with a positive working relationship with our community and sensitivity to the issues that affect it.
The next county executive has a host of issues to work on: affordable housing and economic revitalization and growth, as well as improving schools and transportation. We are confident that Floreen has the experience, commitment, temperament and focus to make progress in these areas over the next four years.
If elected, Floreen would become the county’s first woman executive. Casting herself as a moderate, she should be able to pick up Republican votes as well as votes from Democrats who oppose Elrich as being too far to the left.
We agree with Floreen’s contention at a candidates debate last week, that Montgomery County must rely on more than the federal government to stimulate growth in its tax base. “What we learned during the recession is we had to understand economic development, and prosperity was not going to come from federal contracting and federal jobs, but was going to come from us — our people, our business and private-sector investment,” she said. We feel this kind of pro-business approach has the potential to help rebuild Montgomery County’s business-friendly image, which has the potential of reaping massive dividends, not only for the county and its citizens, but for the entire region.
At the same time, Floreen has consistently insisted on fiscal responsibility as a council member, including putting the brakes on labor costs. And while her campaign has been heavily funded by developers and others who are concerned about Elrich’s anti-growth rhetoric, we don’t believe that puts her in the pocket of business interests. On the contrary, responsible development is just one of the many things we need in a county with a huge gap between its poor and well-off citizens.
At last week’s debate, Elrich asked Floreen, “I’d like to know what my radical ideas are, that I keep getting accused of having extreme views.” Floreen replied, “Marc has consistently found reasons to oppose things, to say no. … At the end of the day, the county executive has to lead, has to cut deals, has to move us forward.”
We believe that Nancy Floreen is the better candidate to lead Montgomery County, and endorse her candidacy.