Shnider Reports Raising More Than $ 156,000 In Challenge to Incumbent Katz

District 3 primary pits career businessman against progressive activist


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Sidney Katz, left, and Ben Shnider

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Ben Shnider of Rockville, a political operative and civic activist, raised more than $156,000 during the past year in his bid to oust District 3 County Council member Sidney Katz of Gaithersburg in this June’s Democratic primary, according to campaign finance reports filed Wednesday.

Shnider, who announced his candidacy last April, reported having about $112,150 in his campaign treasury as of the report’s cutoff date of Jan. 10. That put him ahead of Katz, who reported almost $64,600 in cash on hand.

Katz, who has opted to use the county’s new public campaign finance system, has received or filed for nearly $65,850 in public funding in recent months. Combined with $23,100 in contributions and loans to his campaign totaling slightly less than $2,875, Katz has taken in significantly less than Shnider—a total of $91,900 over the past year.

Under the public finance system, candidates for district council seats who raise at least 125 contributions of $150 or less from county residents—totaling a minimum of $10,000—can qualify for up to $125,000 in public subsidies.

Shnider chose not to participate in the public funding system, but has vowed not to accept contributions from corporate entities or corporate political action committees. He received a $500 contribution from UNITE HERE Local 23, a labor union that represents about 20,000 hospitality service workers in a number of cities across the country.

UNITED HERE Local 23 is one of two unions that has endorsed Shnider. The other, 32BJ SEIU, which represents about 18,000 property service workers in the Washington, D.C., area, announced its endorsement of Shnider Wednesday.

Shnider also has the endorsement of Del. Shane Robinson of Montgomery Village, whose campaign committee gave Shnider $500. Robinson chairs the Montgomery County House delegation in Annapolis.

The contest between the 67-year-old Katz, a former mayor of Gaithersburg, and Shnider, 28, is not only a faceoff between generations.

It also has pitted a career small businessman—Katz for many years ran a family-owned department store in Gaithersburg—against a progressive activist. Before announcing his candidacy, Shnider was political director for Washington-based J Street, an organization that has served as a counterpoint to the more hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the debate over U.S. policy to Israel.

In addition to Rockville and Gaithersburg, District 3 includes the town of Washington Grove and the Leisure World community, as well as portions of Potomac, Derwood and Aspen Hill.

Meanwhile, in neighboring District 2—which includes much of the northern and western portions of the county—two Republicans are competing for the nomination for the seat now held by County Council member Craig Rice, a Germantown Democrat. Rice is seeking re-election to a third term.

Edward Amatetti of North Potomac, a former teacher, has collected nearly $39,000 from the public funding system after raising almost $13,400 in private contributions.

His opponent for the GOP nod, management consultant Tom Ferleman of Germantown, is not using the public funding system. Ferleman had not filed his campaign finance report by late Thursday, and the state Board of Elections indicated via its Web site that it was imposing a $10 per day fee on him for late filing.

There is an eight-way primary for the Democratic nomination in Bethesda/Chevy Chase-based District 1, where current Council member Roger Berliner is running for county executive, but there is no contest so far in either District 4 or District 5.

In District 4, which includes much of the eastern section of the county, Council member Nancy Navarro has no opposition. Nor does Council member Tom Hucker in District 5, which covers Takoma Park and much of Silver Spring. Navarro and Hucker are both Democrats.

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