The campaign to defeat a term-limits amendment in Montgomery County doesn’t have to report its contributors until Oct. 14. But four of the County Council’s nine members say they have given money to the effort, and a fifth says he plans to do so.
Council members Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), Sidney Katz (D-Rockville-Gaithersburg) and Nancy Navarro (D-Mid County) each say they have transferred $1,000 from their campaign funds to the “No on B” committee. Council member George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) said he contributed $1,500, and council member Marc Elrich (D-At Large) said he intends to contribute $1,000.
If Question B is approved by voters, council members and the county executive would be barred from serving more than three terms. That means Berliner, Elrich, Leventhal and Council President Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) would not be able to seek reelection in 2018.
All four county lawmakers are likely to exit anyway — either by running for county executive or leaving the council of their own volition. Katz, a first-term lawmaker, would not be immediately affected.
The amendment, which defines a “term” as both a full four years or any portion of that time, may also apply to Navarro, who was first elected to the council in 2009. She defeated Republican activist Robin Ficker in a special election to fill a vacant seat and went on to win two full terms of her own.
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However, the council voted this summer to put its own charter amendment on the ballot, specifying that a partial term must be at least two years. Under such language, Navarro could run again in 2018 even if the term- limits question passes. If both questions win next month, the matter is likely to end up in court.
The “No on B” campaign will hold a fundraiser Sunday evening in Silver Spring. The group’s website says it has support from a number of organizations in the county, including the Montgomery Education Association; Casa in Action, the political arm of the immigrant advocacy group; the African-American, Latino and Muslim Democratic clubs; and the Montgomery County Democratic Party.
Ficker — who led the petition drive to place term limits on the ballot — predicted that county voters, soured by property-tax increases and pay raises for council members, would approve the amendment regardless of how much money opponents raise to stop it.
“Quite frankly, I hope they all put in a million dollars. I hope they spend all their money fighting this,” he said. “I don’t think it matters how much they’re going to spend. We need change in Montgomery County.”
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Floreen said she opposes term limits but won’t contribute to “No on B” because it would be unseemly to appear to be “fighting for my personal job.” She called the amendment “a direct attack on the progressive policies of this council.”
Council member Hans Riemer (D-At Large), an outspoken opponent of Question B who is in his second term on the council, declined to say whether he’d donated to “No on B.” First-term council member Tom Hucker (D-East County) is also opposed but said he hasn’t decided whether to donate. Council member Craig Rice (D-Upcounty), serving his second term, opposes the ballot issue but said he won’t contribute.
Three-time County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who says he has no plans to seek a fourth term, said last year that he was not opposed to term limits. But spokesman Patrick Lacefield said Wednesday that Leggett is against Question B because it is “not good government” and because he believes that its narrow definition of a partial term is unfair to Navarro.