An article in the Sept. 22 Montgomery Extra incorrectly said that the Baltimore Sun had reported that Baltimore Mayor Martin J. O'Malley, an expected Democratic candidate for governor, was relying on taxpayers to pay his campaign-related travel expenses. The Sun article said that O'Malley's campaign reimbursed the city for mileage but not for his security detail, which protects the mayor wherever he goes. (Published 9/29/2005)
County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) has been traveling the state trying to raise support for his likely bid for governor.
Duncan, often with a security detail in tow, has visited 21 of 22 counties on a summer-long "listening tour" that has taken him from Eastern Shore beaches to Western Maryland's mountains. Besides that tour, his calendar is often packed with political events in Annapolis, Prince George's County and Baltimore.
And Montgomery County taxpayers have been paying the bill.
County Administrator Bruce Romer said Monday that Duncan's campaign committee won't begin paying for his political trips until he officially announces his candidacy. His widely anticipated announcement does not appear imminent.
"We always envisioned developing some type of reimbursement policy to provide appropriate compensation to the county, and we have long anticipated that policy would take effect at such time as Mr. Duncan made a formal announcement of his candidacy," Romer said.
"The announcement is an identifiable, convenient point in time that we can identify the environment has changed so we thought it would be a good date to key in on."
But on Tuesday afternoon, Jody Couser, Duncan's campaign spokeswoman, said there has been a change of plans. The campaign will reimburse the county $750 a month going back to June for using a county-owned vehicle. She estimated that amount is half the cost of operating the vehicle each month.
Duncan's initial plan not to reimburse the county until an official announcement was first reported in the Baltimore Sun on Sunday. The newspaper noted that other candidates for statewide office -- such as Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a possible Republican candidate for Senate and Baltimore Mayor Martin J. O'Malley, Duncan's likely opponent for the Democratic nomination for governor -- are also so far relying on taxpayers to pay their campaign-related travel expenses.
Romer said Duncan's campaign is also developing a system for directly reimbursing the county for other expenses that might arise, such as paying the cost of hotel rooms for the security detail on overnight trips.
"We will expect the campaign to reimburse us for that on a dollar-to-dollar basis," Romer said.
Security Chief's Track Record
The resignation of Michael D. Brown as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has raised new questions about the qualifications of state, local and federal emergency managers.
Gordon Aoyagi has been Montgomery County's director of Homeland Security since November, when the agency was created by Duncan and the County Council.
Aoyagi's resume indicates that he has spent much of his career overseeing transportation issues but has spent the last four years working in the disaster response business.
Between 1974 and 1978, Aoyagi managed intercity and three local bus operations in Boulder, Colo. From 1978 to 1981, he was executive director of the Westport Transit District in Westport, Conn.
After that, he spent five years as the general manager of the Salem Area Mass Transit District in Salem, Ore.
In 1985, he took over as the chief of Montgomery's Division of Transit Services. A decade later, he became an assistant chief administrative officer in the Duncan administration, a position he held until 1998.
He then became the county's fire administrator. In that position he oversaw 1,800 career and volunteer firefighters. He was also responsible for emergency medical services, the 911 call center and chaired the local emergency planning council.
And, according to his resume, he played a key role in emergency operations leading up to Y2K and the management of the county's response to Hurricane Isabel, several snow and ice storms, the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon and the anthrax attacks that followed.
Last year, Aoyagi attended an International Association of Fire Chief's conference on weapons of mass destruction.
Unions Split on Hurson's Seat
The politically influential county government employees unions are split over who should replace Democratic Del. John A. Hurson in District 18.
According to sources, the firefighters, teachers and government workers unions each voted to endorse a separate candidate in the district, which includes Kensington and parts of Silver Spring.
The firefighters voted tentatively to back Vic Weissberg, a member of the Democratic Central Committee. The Municipal and County Government Employees Organization decided on Adam Luecking, who works at the University of Maryland. The teachers union leaned toward Jeff Waldstreicher, an attorney.
"There was no consensus on a single candidate," said Gino Renne, president of the Municipal and County Government Employees union.
Since the unions haven't coalesced around a single candidate, it remains to be seen whether the individual unions will formally endorse their respective choices or opt to stay neutral as a show of unity.
The 23 voting members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee are scheduled to vote on a successor to Hurson, who is leaving to take a job as a lobbyist, on Oct 11.
The other candidates in the race are County Cable Administrator Jane Lawton, Michael Griffiths, a dentist who is past president of the African-American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, Samuel L. Statland, a member of the Board of Elections, and Al Carr, a member of the Kensington Town Council.
Democrats Face Intra-Party Challenges
Next year's races for state senator and delegate in District 19 are shaping up as ones that could pit a new generation of Montgomery County Democrats against longtime incumbents.
John Mahoney, 36, announced last week that he is stepping down as chairman of the Young Democrats of Maryland because he is challenging incumbent Sen. Leonard H. Teitelbaum.
Teitelbaum has represented the district, which includes parts of Olney and Aspen Hill, in the Senate since 1994. Before that, he was a two-term member of the House of Delegates.
"I am running to bring fresh leadership, innovative ideas and energy and change for the better to the Maryland Senate," said Mahoney, a lawyer.
Meanwhile, Alec Stone, past president of the Kemp Hill Civic Association, became the first person to declare as a Democratic candidate for one of the three District 19 delegate seats.
Stone, who was an official in the Clinton administration, said the three Democratic incumbent delegates -- Henry B. Heller, Adrienne A. Mandel and Carol S. Petzold -- have been in office too long.
Heller and Petzold have represented the district for 18 years. Mandel took office in 1995.
"If I thought the district was getting categorically excellent leadership from its delegation right now, I wouldn't be a candidate right now," said Stone, 36, who heads a management firm.
Fundraising With a Flourish
With next year's elections approaching, candidates are scrambling to raise money, which leads to some creative fundraisers.
Craig Rice, a candidate for House of Delegates from District 15 -- which includes Poolesville, Laytonsville and North Potomac -- is having a fundraiser in honor of his 33rd birthday on Tuesday in Laytonsville. Tickets to the event are, you guessed it, $33. But high rollers can pony up $330 or $3,300.
On Oct 2, Tina's Gallery is hosting a "A Fall Festival of Art for Ike Leggett," where supporters can purchase pieces of art. A portion of the proceeds will go to former council member Isiah Leggett's campaign for the Democratic nomination for county executive.
On the same day, the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee will host its annual "Grand Old Party" at the Meadows at Smokey Glen Farm in Gaithersburg. Tickets are $30.