GAITHERSBURG — Earlier this year, Mayor Jud Ashman endorsed Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s bid for re-election. Ashman, who describes himself as a lifelong centrist, has been a registered Democrat since changing his party registration in the mid-2000s. He praised Hogan’s efforts to distance himself from the policies of President Donald J. Trump, and his moderate stance on social issues and efforts to make Maryland a more business-friendly environment.
Some members of the Gaithersburg City Council disagree with Ashman and have endorsed Democratic nominee Ben Jealous. Council member Laurie-Anne Sayles, the body’s most junior member, wrote an op-ed in “Maryland Matters” criticizing Hogan’s record.
“Hogan has cut funding to public schools to the tune of $100 million, while at the same time funneling $20 million of our tax dollars to subsidize private schools,” Sayles wrote. “What’s more, Hogan has demonstrated an inexplicable disdain for our state’s most-pressing environmental concerns, vetoing legislation that would boost renewable energy and promote green jobs. And since Hogan has taken office, insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act for Marylanders have skyrocketed an alarming 120 percent, while Mr. Hogan has sabotaged Democrats’ efforts to lower prescription drug costs for our working families.”
Sayles also cited the decision by Discovery Communications to re-locate its headquarters out of the state and the decision of other companies to invest in Virginia rather than Maryland.
“Hogan is not a moderate,” Sayles said. “He is taking credit for progressive legislation that Democrats have passed in spite of him.”
“I disagree with Jud on Hogan,” said Council member Michael A. Sesma. “Hogan is not a moderate or much of a bipartisan leader. He’s actually quite conservative. I am supporting Ben Jealous.”
Other Council members declined to offer an endorsement in the race.
“I am a lifelong Democrat, which is no secret,” said Council Vice President Ryan Spiegel. “I have had policy discussions and social interactions with both candidates, and I like both men personally. However, as the incoming president of the Maryland Municipal League, who will have to work closely with whoever is governor and represent the very diverse membership of our state’s 157 cities and towns – and the 1.5 million people who live in them – it is more appropriate for me to remain officially neutral at this time.”
“I don’t want to offer an opinion on this race or any others,” said Council member Neil Harris. “I voted for who I voted for, and that’s all I’ll say.”
Council member Robert Wu could not be reached for comment.