Today, The Gazette continues its endorsements for contested races in the June 24 party primaries.
With Del. Susan C. Lee of Bethesda running for an open state Senate seat this year, six challengers joined the two other Democratic incumbents seeking their party’s nomination for the three seats in District 16, which comprises some of Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase.
The two incumbents — William Frick and Ariana Kelly, both of Bethesda — deserve a chance at another term. Frick has worked to ensure that the state is getting enough bang for its buck in its numerous tax credit programs is most welcome.
Kelly, on the other hand, is strong on women’s and family issues. She helped pass laws requiring that every hospital emergency room in the state — not just one in each county — have at least a protocol for providing rape kits for victims of sexual assault. She also has fought to require small businesses to provide employees with job-protected maternity and paternity leave, and to mandate that insurance companies cover autism treatment.
Among the challengers, Hrant Jamgochian of Bethesda is the best. With his professional expertise in health care issues — he is executive director of Dialysis Patient Citizens — he says he supports more preventive care and helping seniors with long-term care issues. But Jamgochian also sees the need for economic development efforts, such as establishing a state bank to provide small-business loans and streamlining the permitting process.
With three terms under her belt in the House, Lee deserves the Democratic nomination for the District 16 Senate seat.
Her priorities include those advocated by most Democrats: more state money for education; environmental protection; and mass transit, including the Purple Line and Metrorail. But Lee also has been a leader in efforts to fight domestic violence — helping make it easier for victims to get protective orders — and to enact stricter gun regulations.
A bumper crop of strong candidates has emerged in the Democratic contest for Distict 18 delegate. That’s due, at least in part, to what some candidates say were indications from one of the incumbents, Ana Sol Gutierrez of Chevy Chase, that she would not seek a fourth term.
As it turns out, she, along with fellow incumbents Al Carr and Jeffrey Waldstreicher, both from Kensington, all filed to run last year. Still, that didn’t stop four challengers from running. While some of the challengers may feel aggrieved by what they perceive as Gutierrez’s deception, Democrats must vote based on who will represent them best in Annapolis.
All four challengers are energetic and well-versed in the issues. Still, based on the incumbents’ experience, diversity of issues and prospects for legislative achievement, The Gazette is endorsing them.
Carr has been an effective advocate for open government, leading the effort requiring governments to make available their electronic records in digital form and supporting immediate online disclosure of large campaign contributions.
Waldstreicher points to work on child protection issues and helping his constituents with the issues that sometimes matter most to them, such as problems with Pepco and potholes.
And Gutierrez has served two terms on the House Appropriations Committee and represents one of the county’s best chances to get the state school construction money it needs to keep pace with enrollment. The county’s delegation failed this session to win that money but Gutierrez says that school issues, including reforming the state funding formula, are her top priority. It’s imperative that she, and her Montgomery colleagues, make good on that promise in the next session.
Dels. Kathleen Dumais and Aruna Miller have been hard-working representatives in the district and should have a chance at winning another term. The district starts south of Rockville and follows the Potomac River on up to the Frederick County line.
The third seat in the race falls either to Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo, who was once a Montgomery County police officer, or Bennett Rushkoff, a public protection lawyer. Fraser-Hidalgo was appointed to the position before the start of the 2014 General Assembly session. For that reason, he has a short leg up above Rushkoff.
In the Democratic primary, The Gazette endorses the incumbents, Dels. Anne Kaiser, Eric Luedtke and Craig Zucker, who have well represented the district, which follows the Montgomery-Howard county line. The three are challenged by Valeria A. Nia Shell, who did not respond to many requests for information.