Republican real estate agent and civic activist George E. Sauer has announced he will run for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council, saying he will bring an independent voice to a council that too long has been dominated by the special interests of one party.
"I am not rich, nor do I have much chance of big developer contributions. I think that the electorate is ready to vote for someone qualified to serve who is not bound to special interests," Sauer said.
Sauer, 56, a former president of the Montgomery County Civic Federation, ran unsuccessfully for the council in 1986. He also lost races for state delegate in 1974 and the state Senate in 1978.
Sauer said, though, that the time is right for Republicans because voters are fed up with two decades of all-Democratic rule. He pointed to citizen concern over the pace of development as well as the tax revolt brought about by dramatically rising assessments.
Sauer criticized council decisions that backed a controversial regional shopping mall for downtown Silver Spring, supported the Bethesda-to-Silver Spring trolley and put an incinerator in Dickerson.
Sauer is one of the first Republicans to officially announce for an at-large seat. There will be four at-large seats decided in November, when the council grows to nine members, with five elected from geographic districts.
Republican John Thomas, an architect from Silver Spring, has filed as an at-large council candidate. Republican Carol Wallace, a former school board member, had said she might run at-large but is now seen leaning toward running for the District 4 seat.
Republican Robin Ficker, a Bethesda lawyer, is also considering running at large. The deadline for filing is Monday. Ennis Joins the GOP
Saying she didn't want to get lost in the crowd, Silver Spring civic activist Joan Ashley Ennis last week switched her party affiliation to run as a Republican for the Montgomery County Council.
Ennis had announced her candidacy in the Democratic primary Sept. 11, but the competition for the Silver Spring area seat became fierce. So far, Democratic candidates include Dianne Smith, Derick Berlage, Betsy Taylor and Susan Heltemes.
Ennis said she didn't think her views could get an adequate airing in such a confusing primary. Ennis said that the GOP approached her and that it was a hard decision. She said that she is a liberal and that her views are compatible with liberal, progressive Republicans and Democrats familiar with her civic work. Billings Changes Tickets
Another candidate making a recent switch was Del. Patricia H. Billings, who changed her mind about running on a ticket in District 18 with state Sen. Margaret C. Schweinhaut.
Billings had announced in December that she would be part of an incumbents' ticket along with fellow Democrats Schweinhaut, Del. Patricia R. Sher and Del. C. Lawrence Wiser.
That ticket fell apart when Sher announced this spring she would challenge Schweinhaut for the state Senate because of the abortion issue. Schweinhaut is a staunch opponent of abortion and was one of the 16 senators who participated in a filibuster that paralyzed the Senate this past session. Sher is an advocate of abortion rights.
When Sher announced in April that she was taking on Schweinhaut, Billings said she would stick by Schweinhaut even though she disagreed with the senator on the abortion issue. Billings at the time said that she didn't think elections should be decided by one issue and that she had a lot of respect and admiration for Schweinhaut. Wiser also is an advocate for abortion rights.
Billings this week in a press release said she would run on a ticket with Sher and candidates John Hurson and Chris Van Hollen. "There will be no more important fundamental issue to Maryland voters in this election" than the abortion issue, Billings said as she announced her decision to run a ticket committed to abortion rights.
"As the time has gone on, I have felt less and less comfortable with the difference between Sen. Schweinhaut and myself on the abortion issue," said Billings, who said she made the decision in fairness to herself and to Schweinhaut.
Schweinhaut said Billings's decision was "not a surprise."
"Pat is a wonderful person and she agonized over this," said Schweinhaut.
Also running for state Senate in the district that takes in Chevy Chase, Kensington, Wheaton, parts of Silver Spring and Bethesda is Steve Silberfarb.
Meanwhile, a fifth candidate entered the primary for delegate in the district. David Weaver, a national gun control advocate and Democratic activist, announced he is running for the House of Delegates.
"I have been fighting the National Rifle Association in state capitals all across this country. Now it's time to take them on again in Annapolis," said Weaver, assistant director of state legislation at Handgun Control Inc.
Weaver, 29, has worked for Del. Wiser and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Delaware) and was press secretary in the unsuccessful 1988 congressional campaign of Democrat Peter Franchot.
Weaver, announcing his candidacy, outlined his support for legislation guaranteeing a woman's right to an abortion, strengthening the state's recycling law, ensuring parental leave and increasing education funding. Muller Backs Off Kramer
Alfred Muller, chairman of the Friendship Heights Village Council, has decided against a challenge of County Executive Sidney Kramer in the Sept. 11 primary.
Instead, Muller threw his support behind the Democratic candidacy of former County Council aide Henry Bain.
Quoting Andrew Jackson that "one man with courage is a majority," Muller said that man in this election is Henry Bain. Muller said voter discontent with the effects of overdevelopment will topple Kramer. School Board Candidate
Alan Cheung, an administrator at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who is active in a variety of Montgomery County civic and educational issues, has become a candidate for the county Board of Education.
The first Asian American ever to run for the Montgomery school board, Cheung is one of four candidates competing so far for the board's at-large seat.
A Rockville resident, Cheung, 53, is a native of Hong Kong who has lived in the United States for 34 years and moved to Montgomery in 1977. He has three children who are graduates of the county school system.
In running for the board, his first attempt at elective office, Cheung said he believes the school system needs to offer "a well-managed educational program that will give all of our children a sound foundation in technology and the humanities."
In particular, he said, the school system should be sensitive to racial and ethnic diversity, work more closely with nearby government agencies and private businesses, and analyze data more effectively.
Cheung holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of California at San Francisco and a master's degree in public health from the University of California at Los Angeles. In the Department of Veterans Affairs, he is the special assistant to the assistant chief medical director for clinical affairs. He also teaches part time at Howard and Georgetown universities.
As a school system volunteer, Cheung is a former president of the English for Speakers of Other Languages parent advisory committee; a former member of the school system's ethics panel; a former member of an advisory committee on minority student achievement; and a current member of the committee that oversees the community's use of school buildings at nights and on weekends.
He also is a member of the Committee for Montgomery and the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. In addition, he is vice president for public affairs of the Organization of Chinese Americans and is a former president of the organization's Greater Washington chapter.
Cheung will compete in the November election against incumbent James E. Cronin, along with political newcomers Sheldon Fishman and Donald Krintz. -- Amy Goldstein