Montgomery Council District 5 applicant field reaches nine -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2014.

The list of applicants who have submitted their names to be appointed to Montgomery County’s vacant District 5 council seat reached nine people this week.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday and the council plans to make a decision by Jan. 31.

Five people have sent in their applications to fill the seat formerly held by Valerie Ervin in the past week, providing the current members of the council plenty of choices when they make their decision.

Takoma Park City Councilman Timothy Male and Alan Bowser, Cherri Branson, Ronald Galvin Jr. and Andrew Kleine, all of Silver Spring, have joined Jeanette Dixon and Harold McDougall of Silver Spring, Arthur H. Jackson of Takoma Park and Daniel Wilhelm of Colesville in applying to replace Ervin.

Ervin resigned her seat, effective Friday, to become executive director of the Working Families Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in New York City.

Branson — chief counsel for the ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) — said her experience in more than 24 years as a congressional aide would help her get started quickly on the council.

She’s seen the legislative process work well and not so well, and has come to understand the importance of being able to make compromises to get something accomplished, she said.

The County Council appointed Branson to Montgomery’s Charter Review Commission and Commission on Redistricting. Branson said she sees the council opening as another chance to serve the county.

Galvin is the executive director of IMPACT Silver Spring, an organization that brings groups together to work on community issues.

He said he has a strong perspective on issues of equity in the county, particularly for people who are struggling.

Galvin has a master of divinity degree from Emory University in Atlanta. He said that although IMPACT Silver Spring is a nonreligious and nonsectarian organization, his degree affected how he views things.

Divinity school gave him a “clarified eye” toward people who are struggling and an obligation to create systems to help them, he said.

Having a theological worldview has helped him see “how systems work for and against people,” Galvin said.

Kleine works as the budget director for Baltimore city. He said that while Baltimore and Montgomery County are very different, his experience has given him some skills he could transfer to a seat on the council.

Both jurisdictions have had to weather nearly unprecedented fiscal challenges in recent years and provide social service programs on a similar scale, Kleine said.

He said he could ask the right questions and help find solutions in areas such as the efficiency of government operations and revenue structure.

Kleine has worked as a budget analyst for the U.S. Department of Transportation and a staff member for the House of Representatives’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

He’s the former treasurer for CASA of Maryland and has served on the Long Branch Advisory Committee and the Indian Spring Citizens Association.

The council has indicated it is looking to appoint someone who will not run for a full term in 2014. All five candidates said they have no interest in serving beyond the length of the appointment.

Bowser, an attorney, served as chief of staff to former Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg.

He saidhis familiarity with the other council members and council staff would allow him to get up to speed quickly if he’s appointed.

Bowser said he’s been involved in community advocacy since high school, and has served on the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and the Silver Spring Arts and Entertainment Committee.

He’s currently the president of the Park Hills Civic Association.

Bowser said he’s often sought to make civic engagement fun, so people would participate, and helped organize the annual Silver Spring Blues Festival.

Male, a Takoma Park councilman, said he’d like to put a stronger emphasis on community outreach through the Internet and social media if he’s appointed to the council seat.

With a Ph.D. in biology, Male has worked for a variety of environmental groups, including Defenders of Wildlife and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. He said his science background helps him bring an analytical approach to policy discussions.