Politics Roundup: At-Large Council Candidate Wilhelm Says He Met Threshold to Receive Public Financing Money

Plus: Madaleno receives Victory Fund endorsement; two gubernatorial candidates roll out policy plans on combating opioid addiction, sexual harassment


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Chris Wilhelm

via Wilhelm's campaign website

Wilhelm, at-large council candidate, says he’s met threshold for public financing

To date, 27 candidates have filed or announced to run for four County Council at-large seats in June’s Democratic primary. At least 19 of them have signaled their intention to tap into the county’s new public campaign financing system.

So far, only three have qualified to receive funding—although a fourth is poised to join them.

Chris Wilhelm of Chevy Chase, an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher at Silver Spring’s Northwood High School, said he has raised $24,000 in donations of $150 or less from 370 contributors—sufficient to trigger about $80,000 in public subsidies to his campaign.

“I’m well over both the thresholds, but I have not actually filed the paperwork yet to request the funds,” Wilhelm said Thursday in a phone interview, adding that he plans to do so during the week following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Under the law adopted three years ago, at-large council candidates must receive at least 250 qualifying donations totaling a minimum of $20,000 to get public funding.

The three at-large contenders to qualify for public funding to date are: Hans Riemer of Takoma Park, the only at-large incumbent seeking re-election, who qualified for $86,100 in August; and Bill Conway of Potomac and Hoan Dang of Silver Spring, who qualified for $100,700 and $73,800, respectively, in September.

Two at-large incumbents, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal—who were barred from seeking re-election due to the 2016 term limits law—are running for county executive. Together, they have received more than $500,000 of the $851,000 in public campaign funding allotted to date.

The 30-year old Wilhelm, who grew up in Silver Spring, kicked off his campaign in May after serving as field director for David Moon’s successful 2014 run for delegate in District 20.

Wilhelm said he is focusing on advocating for an increase in the supply of “ownership-based affordable housing” in the county. “I think it would be a powerful way to attack not just the income gap, but the wealth gap,” he said.

On the environmental front, with the County Council recently approving a resolution instructing the executive branch to come up with a “zero waste strategy,” Wilhelm said he wants such a plan “to be as aggressive as possible, with the goal of eventually phasing out” the garbage incinerator in Dickerson in the northern part of the county.

Louis Peck

 

Madaleno endorsed by LGBTQ group Victory Fund

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington) announced this week he received the endorsement of Victory Fund, a national organization that promotes LGBTQ candidates, in his race for governor.

Madaleno, who is gay, is trying to become the first openly gay person to be elected to a governor’s office in America.

“Rich’s history of success in passing smart and progressive public policy—including his leadership role in making the freedom to marry the law of the land in Maryland—makes him the obvious choice for Marylanders,” Victory Fund CEO Aisha Moodie-Mills said in a statement.

The organization founded in 1991 provides camping fundraising and other support for politicians it endorses.

Madeleno, a Kensington resident who has served in the state Legislature for 15 years, thanked the organization for its support.

“Though I’m running for office to drive real change and make a positive difference in the lives of every single Marylander,” he said in a statement, “I’m particularly excited to be a role model for other LGBTQ individuals and anyone who sees barriers to achieving their dreams.”

Madaleno is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018 against former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah, Baltimore attorney James Shea and consultant Maya Rockeymoore Cummings.

Late last month, Cummings received the endorsement of Emily’s List, the well-known women’s campaign group that backs female candidates pursuing public office around the country.

Andrew Metcalf

 

Jealous releases plan to battle opioid addiction; Vignarajah takes on sexual harassment

Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates rolled out policy plans this month to address topics dominating the news cycle lately—opioids and sexual harassment.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous detailed a plan Thursday to deal with opioid addiction in Maryland. If elected, he would invest $2 million immediately to stock Naloxone, the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses by first responders and others who have access to it.

In the long term, he’d like to expand drug treatment programs at correctional facilities, expand 24/7 crisis centers to enable drug users to get help whenever they needed it and ask the state’s attorney general to pursue lawsuits against drug manufacturers and pill mills that push opioids on the general public.

Jealous plans to pay for the plan through a combination of federal grants, money from private foundations and settlement funds from future state lawsuits against opioid manufacturers. To start the program immediately, he said, he would tap into the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

“By investing in solutions to this crisis now, we will not only help Marylanders recover from addiction and get back on their feet, but dramatically lessen the immense burdens the opioid crisis has placed on our law enforcement, criminal justice and public health systems,” Jealous said in a letter introducing the planned policy.

Former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah on Monday outlined a plan to create a new state agency to prevent sexual harassment and violence in Maryland.

She told The Washington Post the agency would set up a hotline for victims to anonymously report sexual assault or harassment and the office would work with other government agencies to address allegations of harassment. She also told the paper she has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, but did not provide details about her experience.

Vignarajah’s campaign has been trailed by eligibility questions after Bethesda Beat first reported she voted in Washington, D.C., in 2014—raising questions about whether she was a Maryland resident and registered voter in the state for the five years before the 2018 election, as required to run for governor. She filed a lawsuit in October in Anne Arundel Circuit Court seeking a judge’s opinion on her eligibility. She declined to answer questions about her eligibility when discussing her proposed plan to address sexual harassment, according to the Post report.

Andrew Metcalf

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