The Washington Post

SEIU Local 500 drops support for Barclay in Montgomery County District 5 council race

Montgomery County Council candidate Christopher Barclay’s expense account and fundraising woes cost him a major union endorsement Tuesday, as Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500 switched its allegiance to Del. Tom Hucker in the District 5 (Silver Spring-Eastern Montgomery) race.

The union represents several thousand Montgomery County school support personnel and adjunct faculty at Montgomery College.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Local 500 executive director David Rodich called Barclay, a member of the Montgomery Board of Education “a strong advocate on behalf of our members and for education in our community.”

“Unfortunately, recent developments have become a distraction and raised serious concerns about his electability,” Rodich said. “Our members’ number-one issue in District 5 is having a progressive County Councilperson who will stand up for social and economic justice.”

Rodich didn’t elaborate, but he was referring to disclosures that Barclay reimbursed the school system for nearly $1,500 in improper expenses charged to his board-issued credit card. In addition, new campaign finance reports show him with just $10,000 cash on hand to compete in the June 24 Democratic primary.

SEIU’s decision is the first of what is expected to be two major blows to Barclay’s candidacy. The Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) representing 12,000 classroom teachers and other school personnel, is also considering rescinding its endorsement. Union leaders will meet to discuss the issue Wednesday.

Hucker, a founder and former executive director of Progressive Maryland, has close ties to labor. In the statement, Local 500 president Merle Cuttitta praised his record in the General Assembly.

“Whether it was marriage equality, the Dream Act or funding education, Tom stood with us – and more importantly, he stood with the people of Montgomery County, Cuttitta said.

Also running in the District 5 race are Silver Spring activist Evan Glass, Takoma Park community organizer Terrill North and non-profit leader Jeffrey Thames.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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