Montgomery County Civic Federation Endorses Term Limits

Members express anger at actions of County Council


Published:

MCCF President Jim Zepp, left, Harriet Quinn, center, and Paula Bienenfeld monitor discussion on Question B.

Douglas Tallman

Establishing term limits for some elected county officials gained the support of the Montgomery County Civic Federation in an 11-3 vote Monday evening.

About 25 people attended the federation meeting at the Executive Office Building in Rockville, where “Question B,” which will be included on the Nov. 8 election ballot, was debated. Under the proposed charter amendment, the county executive and members of the County Council would be limited to three consecutive four-year terms.

Boyds lawyer Robin Ficker collected more than 17,000 signatures on petitions to bring terms limits before voters. The Montgomery County Board of Elections validated more than 12,000 of the signatures.

Former Rockville City Councilman Tom Moore took the signatures to court. Moore claimed the petitions violated state law because of the amount of extra information Ficker and his volunteers added to the names. Moore lost in county Circuit Court and his appeal before the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Moore is now raising money for “No on B,” an effort to defeat term limits at the polls.

According to Question B, serving any part of a four-year term would be considered as serving a full term. Federation members also debated Question C, another ballot question that says a partial term would be considered a full term only if the elected official served at least two years of the four-year term. A resolution in support of Question C failed on a 7-7 vote.

The organization is a coalition of homeowners associations and civic groups that estimates it represents 100,000 people.

If Question B passes, council President Nancy Floreen and council members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal and Nancy Navarro—all Democrats—would be barred from seeking another term on the nine-member council. If Question C passes, Navarro would be allowed to run again; she won her first term in a 2009 special election. Leggett has said he does not plan to run for a fourth term.

Members of the coalition expressed anger at the actions of the current council members. Hessie Harris of Silver Spring expressed her displeasure at the 8.7 percent property tax increase passed by the council in May as well as 30 percent raises for council members.

Robert Lipman of Bethesda argued that term limits would help eliminate the influence of he believed developers and their campaign contributions wielded over council members.

But a dissenter said the federation would have a much more difficult time educating new council members and getting them to listen to their issues.

Moore on Tuesday said public financing, where candidates collect a number of small campaign donations that can then be supplemented with public money, would solve many of the problems people have with the current system.

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