Attorney Julian Haffner Is Latest Entrant In Crowded Contest for County Council At-Large Seat

Democratic Committee treasurer is 29th contender to file or declare candidacy in primary


Julian Haffner


This story was updated at 12:50 p.m. Nov. 27 to correct a reference to this month's Gaithersburg City Council election.

Julian Haffner, an attorney who has been treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC) since late last year, plans to file Monday as a candidate for County Council at-large.

Haffner, a Gaithersburg resident, becomes the 29th candidate to file or publicly declare for one of four council at-large nominations at stake in next June’s primary.

“Montgomery County residents voted for change in the last election,” Haffner said in a press release late Sunday. He added later in a telephone interview that he was referring to the 2016 referendum approving term limits for the county executive and County Council members.

As a result of the term limits vote, only one incumbent—Democrat Hans Riemer of Takoma Park—is eligible to seek re-election in 2018. Of the three council members being forced to retire by term limits -- Democrats Marc Elrich of Takoma Park, Nancy Floreen of Garrett Park, and George Leventhal of Takoma Park—Elrich and Leventhal are pursuing the party’s nomination for county executive.

While the large majority of those seeking council at-large nominations have opted to tap into public subsidies provided by the county’s new campaign finance law, Haffner said he plans to rely on the traditional route of raising private contributions.

“I’m definitely a proponent of public financing,” Haffner said in the interview. He added: “In my personal situation, it behooves me to take the traditional route.”

He acknowledged that his relatively late entry into the contest—exactly three months prior to the Feb. 27 filing deadline—“definitely factors into our decision to go the traditional route.”

To date, only three of the 21 Democratic at-large contenders who have opted to go the public finance route have qualified for the subsidies. For those who have received public funding, it has taken a long period to raise the minimum number of required contributions, on which there is a limit of $150 per donor.

Haffner, 41, is affiliated with the Bethesda-based law firm of Longman & Van Grack. He is also co-founder and general counsel for the Mighty Mizizi Music Co., a firm that provides services for independent songwriters and publishers.

Besides his role as treasurer of the MCDCC, Haffner is vice president of the Association of Black Democrats of Montgomery County. He is married to Laurie-Anne Sayles, a former president of the association who this month was elected to a seat on the Gaithersburg City Council.

Haffner said that the issue of economic development was a major impetus in his decision to run, indicating that he hopes it will be a route for closing current gaps in opportunity among county residents.

“I think I come at it from kind of a different perspective in the sense that we want to approach economic development as a tool for a more inclusive government,” Haffner said. “To the extent that we can, we want to see economic development focused to create the most opportunities for the most people. We want the economy to work for everybody in the county.”

“I believe the people want someone with a bold progressive vision who will help take Montgomery County to the next level,” he said.

Haffner becomes the third member of the MCDCC—an entity that has increasingly served as a springboard to public office—to get into the contest for a council at-large nomination in the Democratic primary. Already filed are committee members Loretta Garcia of Bethesda and Danielle Meitiv of Silver Spring.

In addition, three others on the 28-member MCDCC are pursuing public office in next year’s primary.

MCDCC Vice Chair Emily Shetty of Kensington is running for the nomination for delegate in District 18. Another committee member, Marlin Jenkins of Silver Spring, is seeking a delegate seat in neighboring District 19, while MCDCC member Brenda Wolff of Silver Spring has announced for the District 5 seat on the Montgomery County Board of Education now held by incumbent Michael Durso.

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