After their divisive primary battle, the seven Democratic Montgomery County Council nominees -- six of them incumbents -- and County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist met over cold cuts and an olive branch yesterday and agreed to present a united front against their Republican challengers in the November election.
Councilman David Scull said the eight Democrats, who threw unity to the winds and divided into competing slates in the primary, will run together and meet weekly to map strategies and agendas.
Paul Clark, chairman of the county's Republican party, scoffed at the claim of unity and said the Republican nominees will seek to capitalize on the disarray of the Democrats.
"We have a very good chance of surprising the Democrats. They are factionalized, bitter and in disarray," said Clark. "You can go to all the lunches and meetings you want, but you can't bury the hatchet in an hour."
Scull, who led the anti-Gilchrist faction, emerged from the peace-treaty meeting at the Ramada Inn in Rockville saying, "We look forward to working out a relationship between the council and the executive."
"I thought it was positive," said Gilchrist. "It's important for the county and for the party for us to get together."
Pro-Gilchrist Councilman Scott Fosler said, "I have lived in countries where they settle disputes with bullets . . . . Everything in life is relative."
Gilchrist faces a reelection challenge from conservative Republican businessman Joseph McGrath, who is expected to head a unified GOP slate that includes council nominees Mike Helmantoler, Ronald Bird, John Saveland, Leonard Robinson Jr., Malcolm Lawrence, John A. Dean and Alvin Arnett.
Scull and incumbents Esther Gelman and Michael Gudis teamed with four outsiders against a slate that included the other four incumbents, President Neal Potter, Rose Crenca, Ruth Spector, Fosler and three challengers. The competing slates called each other names and complained about dirty tricks, but the central issue was Gilchrist, from whom the Scull team called for greater independence. After the dust had settled, the only incumbent defeated was Spector, who lost to former Rockville Mayor William E. Hanna Jr. in the Sept. 14 primary.