The Montgomery County Education Association — which issues the influential “Apple Ballot” list of political endorsements — backed several candidates in crowded county council primary races on Thursday but held off making an endorsement for county executive.

The teachers union, which represents about 14,000 educators and specialists, endorsed three candidates among the 38 running for four at-large seats: Democrats Brandy Brooks, Will Jawando and Chris Wilhelm.

The union’s endorsement in the race for District 1, which covers Potomac and Bethesda and is held by Democrat Roger Berliner, went to state Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery), while the nod for District 3, which covers Gaithersburg and Rockville, went to Democrat Ben Shnider.

Shnider is challenging incumbent Sidney Katz (D) in that race. Berliner, who is prohibited from seeking another term in District 1 because of term limits, is running for county executive.

The union said in a statement that it may make further endorsements, including for county executive, “depending on the outcome of the County budget process.”

The field of six Democrats and one Republican running for county executive includes three sitting council members — Berliner and at-large members March Elrich and George L. Leventhal — who along with their colleagues will vote on the budget in May, weeks before the June 26 primary.

The union held off making endorsements in three district council races, all of which include an incumbent running for reelection, and did not endorse a fourth at-large candidate.

Nikki Woodward, chair of the MCEA’s political action community engagement committee and a member of the board of directors, said the union’s choices were for candidates who “were actually on the ground floor already doing work.”

In the District 3 race, for example, Woodward said the union backed the political newcomer Shnider over Katz because it wanted to see “representation that really understands that community now. Not that community of the past.”

She said the union is continuing to hold interviews with candidates and hopes to issue another round of endorsements within the next month.