After months of campaigning ended and tens of thousands of votes were tallied Tuesday night, only one Democratic County Council district race was decided Tuesday — Council Member Andrew Friedson, who represents District 1, won in an unopposed race.
Friedson’s district covers Bethesda, Potomac, most of Chevy Chase and other southwestern parts of Montgomery County. Despite running unopposed, he tweeted from various Montgomery County polling places on Election Day, and said he had been to more than two dozen by day’s end.
The races in Districts 2, 3 and 4 are not yet decided, because thousands of mail-in ballots still need to be counted. The county Board of Elections begins that process Thursday.
The front-runners in the District 2 race are Marilyn Balcombe, president/CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, and William Roberts, a former staff member to U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, and chair of the board of the county’s Renters Alliance. District 2 covers Clarksburg, Germantown, Poolesville, Darnestown and other northwestern parts of the county.
Balcombe led with 1,483 votes (46.43%) as of 11:30 p.m, according to unofficial results from the State Board of Elections. Roberts was in second with 903 votes (28.27%) and Lorna Phillips Forde, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large council seat in 2018, was in third with 808 votes (25.30%).
Balcombe has touted her business experience as a reason she would be a strong council member. Unlike some other downcounty candidates, she has expressed support for Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to widen I-270 by adding two toll lanes in each direction. Balcombe has said, however, that transportation projects must also be part of the solution.
Roberts says the county needs to do a better job of focusing on inequities in education, job opportunities and food insecurity in communities, and that he has the experience locally, in nonprofits, and at the federal government to be an effective council member.
In District 3, the two leading candidates facing off for the seat are incumbent Sidney Katz, who is the former mayor of Gaithersburg, and Robert Wu, a Gaithersburg City Council member. According to unofficial results from the State Board of Elections, Katz led Wu by 2,424 (62.44%) to 1,192 (30.71%) votes.
Katz and Wu have run a friendly campaign, as Wu sat down with the incumbent before formally announcing. Katz says that mental health and public safety are top priorities for him, including making sure police officers are better trained and that more mental health services are offered to county residents.
Wu says more needs to be done to advance economic development in the county, and that county officials should leverage their proximity to federal research agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and others.
The race for District 4, featuring five candidates, was narrowed down Tuesday night to three likely to win the seat — either Al Carr, a current delegate; Amy Ginsburg, executive director of a nonprofit in North Bethesda; or Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart.
Stewart had a sizable lead over Ginsburg and Carr as of around 11:30 p.m., according to unofficial election results. She had 5,086 votes (46.38%), Ginsburg had 3,423 (31.21%) and Carr had 2,022 (18.44% of votes).
That district stretches from North Bethesda through Kensington to Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Some have criticized it for its “bowtie shape” and that certain communities, like North Bethesda, do not align politically with Silver Spring and Takoma Park, which are seen by political observers as more liberal.
Carr said his experience as a state legislator and work at creating more transparency within government agencies would make him a good fit for the district and County Council.
Ginsburg touted her work on economic development on the campaign trail, but also said more must be done to improve pedestrian safety. She has said a lot of work has been needed to create better crosswalks in North Bethesda.
Stewart has championed her work as mayor of Takoma Park, particularly in affordable housing. In order for the county to provide more affordable housing, county officials must work on not only building more housing, but also improve rent stabilization policies, Stewart says.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org