Congressional candidate Robin Ficker (R) is supporting a ballot question which would limit the number of consecutive terms a County Executive and Council members can serve.
Ficker, an attorney living in Boyds, said this ballot question would be one of his main focuses in his run for the sixth district and would set him apart from the other candidates.
According to Ficker, he and the Citizen’s Charter Committee introduced this ballot proposal to “open up” the system to “fresh ideas.”
According to Ficker, the incumbents “are indebted to these special interest (groups) who pay for their campaigns. Most of them live in one little part of the county. We need to open it up to all the brain power that exists in Montgomery County.”
Ficker also said three terms, which is the same as 12 years, is more than enough time in office to make any changes or “get the job done.”
“Now if you’re doing a great job for 12 years then you should run for higher office. You should run for county executive, you should run for congress, you should run for governor. Now the county executive has been in there for 12 years, he’s done a fantastic job, he should run for governor,” Ficker said.
Ficker also mentioned how the county council has “gerrymanders” the system.
“The fix is in in Montgomery County and the participation is at an all-time low. When you have open seats, the participation rises, both in the number of candidates and in the interest in the voting public,” Ficker said.
Though Ficker said this proposal would allow for more candidates for the public to choose from, Council member Marc Elrich (D-At-large) said this ballot question is kind of “anti-democratic” because it would eliminate certain candidates from running for re-election.
“I feel like it is the people’s right to decide who represents them and to eliminate some people from consideration is kind of anti-democratic. It really favors big-money interests over regular people because name recognition is the key,” Elrich said.
Elrich also said Ficker’s proposal would enable people with more money to “create space for themselves” by throwing money into the race.
The ballot proposal would directly affect four of the current council members and their option for running for reelection.
They include council members Elrich, George Leventhal (D-At large), Nancy Floreen (D-At large) and Roger Berliner (D-1).
Leventhal said if this ballot question does pass and becomes a law, it would play a role in who would be in the next race for County Executive.
“What happens with that ballot question in November will affect the thinking probably of several council members because some of them, if it were to pass, would not have the option of running again for council,” Leventhal said.
However, Leventhal also mentioned whether the question passes would not affect his thinking in deciding to run for County Executive.
Ficker said the committee is still in the process of collecting signatures for the petition.
According to Donna Duncin, the assistant deputy for election policy at the State Board of Elections, the sponsor of a petition would have to collect a certain number of signatures, which, for Montgomery County, is equivalent to 5 percent of registered voters in the County.
He said the petition to put the question to voters more than amount of required valid signatures but he is still collecting more signatures.
“We have collected at least 10,000 signatures so far. We are going through them, checking each one against the voter roll, and we will be collecting a couple more thousand signatures for insurance purposes,” Ficker said.
The petition has to the local election office and the office’s attorney for validation of the petition’s summary.
According to Duncin, all signatures have to match the name as it is shown on each individual’s’ voter registration information in order for the signature to be valid.
“The requirements are to have the printed names, the address, a date and a signature. Those are the mandated required features that have to be on there,” Duncin.
Duncin also said the committee has until Aug. 1 to collect these signatures and give them to the County Executive who will forward the signatures to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
If the required number of valid signatures is reached, the local election board would write a letter to the county attorney saying the petition has met the requirements to be placed on the ballot.
“The county attorney is then responsible for writing the language that would appear on the ballot. That is by the third Monday in August,” Duncin said.