The Montgomery County Council race has opened with a crowded primary election as 15 Democrats and 12 Republicans seek seven nominations from each of their parties.

Only four candidates - Democrats Ruth Spector and Elizabeth Scull and Republicans Jacqueline Simon and Bob Brennan - will not appear on primary ballots because they are unopposed.

Although five council candidates will be nominated from the five election districts and two will be chosen at-large in each party, voters cast their ballots for everyone as if the voting were completely at-large.

Two sets of Democratic council candidates have coalesced on tickets, hoping to convince voters that they would compose a cooperative and complementary team as council members.

One slate, headed by Democratic County Executive candidate Royce Hanson, includes Esther Gelman and Mable Granke and Mike Gudis. The other, which has no formal tie to an executive candidate, is composed of incumbent Jane Ann Moore and Rose Crenca, Scott Fosler, Alvin (Ted) Schneyer and Helen Strang.

One Republican slate also has been formed by Jacqueline Simon, Taft Holland, Barrie Cilibert and Bob Brennan.

Lower taxes, spending controls, construction of low- and moderate-in-come housing, economic development and improved transportation are largely agreed-on issues in the council races.

But two more philosophical themes are surfacing - the "outsiders" challenge to the incumbents and their cries for change in the governmental leadship, and the numerous candidates with business ties seeking to penetrate a council they regard as "anti-business."

"I hope people don't make the mistake they did in 1962 . . . and elect people who will give everything away in our developing county but the kitchen sink," said Neal Potter, a two-term County Council incumbent and economist.

Potter, who has been a leader in tax reform, tax savings and planned growth efforts, cited the need for tax relief through an improved system of assessments and his experience in handling these problems as his strength.

His challenger in the primary, Helen Strang said, however, that it is time for a "new voice" on the council. "The voters should be able to choose. I'm different from Neal Potter. I'm new, he's not. Sometimes the incumbents get locked into positions," she said.

The former president of Maplewood Citizens Association and the head of a household, Strang also cited "desperate" needs for new services for the elderly and the young.

Another council candidate emphasizing her "grass roots" Democratic experience is Ruth Spector, since 1975 a legislative aide to State Sen. Charles Gilchrist, a county executive candidate. Spector, a member of the Democratic Central Committee and a certified teacher, also has a private social work practice. Unopposed in the primary, she is most interested in the maintenance of a good educational system in the county, better transportation for the young and the very old and spending limitations to keep taxes down.

Esther Gelman, a council incumbent, said she "cannot walk away with the task half-completed. I am unwilling to see the reins of government taken over by the proponents of all-out, come-what-may development, or by those who oppose all growth as an intrusion on their personal comfort, or by those who would prefer not to make difficult and necessary choices."

Gelman, a former planning board member, said the council now has the "opportunity" to overcome the county housing shortage.

But her opponent in the primary, Alvin (Ted) Schneyer, an engineer and industrial management consultant, has a different view of how to solve housing problems. A tenant and president of the Grosvenor Park Tenants Association, Schneyer favors rent control - which Gelman has opposed.

"They ended rent control on a premise that it inhibited new apartment building," said Schneyer. The council could benefit from his management experience in addressing county problems, he said.

Also pointing to management abilities is Mike Gudis, a partner in a financial management firm, who is competing in a three-way primary. Gudis favors more low- and moderately priced housing, the completion of the Metro system and "better understanding" between landlords and tenants to prevent "unreasonable acts against tenants." He said it "makes sense" to elect someone with his "practical experience" in budgets, taxes and management.

One of his opponents is Jane Anne Moore, a one-term incumbent, a sociologist and ordained United Church of Christ minister, opposed the lifting of rent controls and what she called "costly premature projects" like the new county office building and the Germantown campus of Montgomery College. She has been a sometime nay-sayer in Metro expansion. One of her themes is the difficult conditions facing many elderly persons in the increasingly expensive county.

The third contestants in the race is W. William Whitacre, a Silver Spring businessman, who said it is "time for new a perspective from the business side" on the "anti-business County Council." Whitacre, who favors the completion of the Metro system in the county, said he will encourage planned economic development.

Council President Elizabeth Scull is unopposed in the primary. Long interested in housing, health, youth, the elderly and the disavantaged, she has called for "desirable economic development" while protecting existing neighborhoods and "certain unpopular but essential public facilities" such as landfills and sewage treatment plants in an environmentally sound way."

Six Democrats are competing for two at-large nominations:

Rose Crenca, a citizen activist who has served as president of the Allied Civic Group and secretary of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League, wants to restore "fiscal responsibility" to government and "confidence in elected officials.

"The citizens have been turned off by some of the building projects which are expensive and involve hiring more government workers. The duplication of services is lost in the bureaucracy and the winding and unwinding of red tape," she said.

Scott Fosler of Chevy Chase, director of government studies for the Committee for Economic Development, an organization of 200 top corporate executives, is chairman of the county Task Force on Real Property Assessments. Fosler said his critical concern is "to provide the level and quality of services we want without increasingly pressures on taxpayers. It's a faddish topic, but I've been working professionally on it for 10 for 12 years."

Mable Grankie, a planning board member since 1975, believes that her experience as a public official has taught her how to manage a zero-based budget and "to make responsible decisions when needed, even though not everyone will be pleased.

"I am committed to increasing moderate-income housing in the county, both sale and rental, and to completing an inclusive transportation system," said Granke, whose political ambition grew out of her leadership in the League of Women Voters and party duties.

Tom Hamilton said that what distinguishes him is his view of government from within. As director of the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs from 1973 to 1978, he said he witnessed "government waste" first-hand.

"It irked me, because what I didn't spend was invariably given to someone else who had overspent." Hamilton is now a housing consultant for potential investors.

Sally Kanchuger, who has served as president of the West Montgomery Citizens Association, a director of the League of Women Voters and a member of numerous environmental policy committees, has, as she puts it, "a history of fighting the dump." She is referring to her opposition to landfills as the solution to the county's disposal problems. The government needs to be "streamlined" to root out waste, and some services, such as certain health programs, could be provided more cheaply by the private sector, she said.

"Most candidates," said Nathan Wilansky who lives in Silver Spring, "have said that Metrorail must be completed in the county, period. I'm not only saying no, but hell no" to the expansion of the Red Line past Silver Spring. A former government employe in the field of international procurement and now a student, Wilansky is president of the Stanford-Vale Citizens Association and a member of the county Fiscal Affairs Committee and Task Force on Real Property Assessment. He also favors rent stabilization.

Twelve Republicans are running for seven council nominations in the primary.

For 17 years, Jacqueline Simon has been both a volunteer and professional in the county, from her nine years as community relations director of the Housing Opportunity Commission to her vice presidency of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. But Simon, first a Republican, then a Democrat and now a Republican again, decided to seek office because "the issues I was most concerned with were handled by the council." She is unopposed in the primary.

Bob Brennan, a home builder and former county planning board chairman, reached a similar decision because of frustrations with the council. "We've had a Democratic council that has shown total inaction on building low- and moderate-income housing and total inaction on economic development," said Brennan, a Republican, who also is unopposed in the primary. "They constantly feud over the issues and make decisions only when faced with a crisis."

Another businessman, Richard L. (Curly) Bogley, a telephone company employe, lost a County Council bid four years ago. Bogley believes the property tax should be lowered at least 5 percent. "We should modernize the government, put a freeze on hiring and cease the duplication between the executive and the council," he said. "The council is trying to both legislate and administer."

His primary opponent, A. Chester Flather Jr., an investment banker, is a civic activist who led his neighborhood in battle against White Flint Mall. He is president of Garratt Park Estates - White Flint Park Citizens Association and the North Bethesda Congress of Citizens Associations.

"They promised us a lot of things - like screening from their lighting - that they didn't live up to," he said of White Flint. "I want the county to be a better place for everyone, not just an expensive place."

The need for change also has been emphasized in Barrie Ciliberti's campaign. An unsuccessful House of Delegates candidate in 1970 and a professor at Bowie State College, Giliberti said the county is "at the crossroads" between the past and change. The changes he advocates should involve "a climate of cooperation, not alienation, btween the County Council and the private and volunteer sectors" and new industry, he said.

His primary opponent, Vincent A. Butler, is a lawyer and party precinct chairman who believes the Democratic council has provided for "too many social servies" and program "wasting the taxpayers' money."

Democrats have offered governmental waste and a "do-nothing" attitude, charged Joseph L. Pavlock Sr., chief investigator for the American Fair Trial Assocation. A former Human Relations Commission member, he ran unsuccessfully for governor in the publican primary in 1962 and for the state senate in 1974.

His primary opponent, Barbara Bailey, a former vice president of the county Commission on Landlord-Tennant Affairs, was a founder of the Summit Hill (now Broadmoor) Tenants Assocation in Silver Spring. As one of the party's black candidates, she said she could represent "a large population of people never represented in the county . . . the low-income, minorities an senior citizens."

Four Republicans are running for the two-at-large nominations in the primary.

Bert Cumby, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and foreign service officer, is a commissioner on the Washington Surburban Sanitary Commission. A longtime party activist, he said he decided to seek office "out of a deep sense of public service. I don't think any asset a candidate has is better than his public record and experience."

Likewise, Mirek J. (Spike) Dabrowski, a public relations consultant, decided to transfer his behind the scenes party actvity to a bid for public office. "I get fed up with people who forget who elected them. . . . I'd like to be represented by the people, and I don't think the councils is representative anymore."

Malcolm Lawrence helped launch an attack on drug abused in the county as chairman of the War-On-Narcotics League. He later turned his attention to "qualify education" as a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Str-Parents Who Care, which has [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for more "basics" in the schools former foreign service officer and economist, he has backed the Montgomery County Taxpayers' League tax limitation referendum drive.

Also seeking one of the at-large nominations is Taft Holland, another black Republican. Holland is a former special assistant to the director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and a consultant with a community development firm.