Montgomery County executive candidate Rose Krasnow (D). (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

This story has been updated to reflect the June 15 campaign finance filings.

Rose Krasnow is used to being the only one.

“I got my start in politics as the token woman,” she said. It was 1991, and Krasnow was the administrator of a homeowners association in Rockville, the Montgomery County seat. She had been at City Hall so many times in that role that her husband suggested she just run for the City Council, whose sole female member was retiring.

So she did — and won. Then she won three terms as Rockville mayor. And then she began looking at what else she could do.

“I took to politics much more readily then I would have expected,” Krasnow said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Today, Krasnow, 66, again finds herself as the only woman, this time in a six-person Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive.


Candidate Rose Krasnow talks with residents at a candidates forum on racial equality and immigrant rights in February. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

She was one of the last in the field to declare her candidacy. At a candidates forum earlier this year on racial equity and immigrants’ rights, she told the audience she jumped in partly because of the lack of diversity among the white, male candidates vying to replace Isiah Leggett, the county’s first African American executive. Montgomery, the state’s most populous jurisdiction, is a majority-minority county, with a third of its residents foreign-born.

“I can’t change the color of my skin, but at least I am a woman,” Krasnow said then.

In an interview last month, she said she was “amazed that people who had announced had no diversity. Not that they were all men, but no diversity. And in this county, it seems very strange.”

She touts herself as the only candidate with executive experience, noting that as mayor she oversaw the redevelopment of downtown Rockville and worked to get funding for the new county library at its heart. And she says her years as Montgomery’s deputy planning director has made her familiar with every part of the sprawling county.

“I’m truly the candidate who represents the whole county as opposed to inside the Beltway,” Krasnow said. “It’s a significant difference.”


Montgomery County executive candidate Rose Krasnow shares a light moment with rival Bill Frick, left, at a forum on racial equality and immigrant rights in Silver Spring, Md. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Krasnow is participating in the county’s public financing system, but has raised less money so far than the two other Democratic candidates using it. In mid-June, she reported receiving $359,920 and requesting an additional $13,420.

Her endorsements include Emily’s List, state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery), the Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association and council member Nancy Floreen (D-At Large), who called Krasnow “a tough, seasoned, honest broker” who “knows the county inside out, has an open mind and is a well-grounded manager with the listening skills and temperament necessary to move the county forward.”

Krasnow, who holds degrees from Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and worked for four years as a bond trader in New York, is running in part on an economic-development platform, advocating for more services for small businesses and expanding the tax base to support social services.

At one forum, she said Montgomery “is truly known as business-unfriendly.” At another, she called the 8.7 percent property tax hike the council approved in 2016 a “tipping point.”

“I felt the county really needed someone who was going to pay a lot more attention to the balance sheet,” she said in an interview.

Former county executive Doug Duncan worked with Krasnow when he was Rockville mayor and she was on the City Council. As county executive, when Krasnow was mayor, they tussled over construction of the library, he said.

“She did a lot of leading from behind,” Duncan said. “I didn’t really see her set a vision for the city and take us in that direction.”

But former state attorney general Doug Gansler called Krasnow “the enigma in the race” — those who know her, like her — but how many know her?

“She’s an amazing woman with impeccable political credentials, and did a wonderful job in her role as mayor in Rockville. But the question is, does she have the resources to compete?” Gansler said. “She’s never run and held office countywide, so most people in the county don’t know her.”

Still, he said, “when you have five other males in the race . . . that makes her a very viable candidate.”