Montgomery County Council member Marc Elrich has officially launched a widely expected campaign for county executive, promising to bring his brand of liberal community activism to the office.
Donning a rarely-seen necktie to speak to supporters at the Barking Dog pub in Bethesda on Sunday, Elrich (D-At Large) said he would accept no money from real estate developers or their attorneys.
“I want to set forth a cooperative path forward with people in the community and people in the county government,” he said, according to video of the event shot by MoCoVoters.org, a grass-roots group working to increase voter turnout.
“I want to make sure this works for you. And I promise you I will not disappoint you. No money from developers,” he said.
Elrich, 67, is the second formal entrant into what promises to be a lively 2018 Democratic primary. He joins council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large), who, like Elrich, resides in heavily liberal Takoma Park. Both have announced that they will use the county’s new public campaign finance system, which leverages matching funds up to $750,000. Council President Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), is likely to join the race.
Two candidates from the private sector, wine retailer David Trone and health-care executive David Blair, both of Potomac, are also considering candidacies. Trone lost a bid for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District seat, spending about $13 million of his own money.
Elrich is serving his third council term, which makes him ineligible for reelection under the new term limits charter amendment passed by county voters in November. Three-term incumbent County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) would also be term-limited, but decided to retire before the amendment’s passage.
Elrich has established himself as a contrarian voice on some county issues, frequently expressing opposition to new development projects and calling on businesses to assume a larger share of the costs for roads and other infrastructure.
He led the council’s 2013 passage of a gradual increase in the county minimum wage, from $7.50 to $11.50 an hour by this July. He was lead sponsor of a measure to extend the wage to $15 by 2020, a measure vetoed by Leggett. Elrich also sponsored a bill last year that established new protections for tenants against poor conditions.
He spent 17 years teaching math at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park and served on the town’s city council for nearly 20 years.