Kessler brings Capitol Hill experience to state race for delegate -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated and corrected at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 29, 2014. An explanation follows the story.

Newcomer Eric “Rick” Kessler of Silver Spring confirmed Tuesday that he has filed as a candidate in the District 18 delegate’s race.

A Democrat, Kessler said he would be an advocate for Montgomery County, as well as for District 18, which covers Kensington, Chevy Chase, Garrett Park, Wheaton and parts of Silver Spring and Rockville.

“Our progressive values don’t carry the day in Annapolis,” he said. “We are not getting back what we put in [the state] not just financially, but with our values too.”

Kessler said he would be happy to see money for the Purple Line, a light rail that will connect Bethesda to New Carrollton, in the state budget and agrees with County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) that there should be a dedicated fund for school construction.

“We need to expand access to affordable quality day care. After care, I think is critical,” Kessler said. “We need to use the tax code as incentive to consumers and businesses. Sales tax on any necessity is regressive. Sales tax on clothing is both regressive and harms the poorest among us and our businesses. I’d like to work to get that changed. If you took that tax and replaced it with another, like on companies that do business here...we need to start that discussion.”

Kessler said he has not run for elected office before, though he did compete for the District 18 appointment to complete Del. Jane Lawton’s term after she died in 2007. The Democratic Central Committee selected Alfred Carr Jr. to fill the unexpired term. Carr continued in the post and is running for re-election this year.

“I went in late but I wanted to learn the process,” he said. “I did a candidates forum and I enjoyed that.”

Kessler, 48, is now senior vice president of Levick Strategic Communications. He is also vice chairman of the District 18 Democratic Caucus.

He and his wife, Cindy Schwartz, and son Matthew live in Silver Spring.

Kessler grew up in Livingston, N.J. and attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he graduated with an AB in International Studies — the first student to graduate from that program — as a Soviet Studies major.

He said he believes his experience working 20 years on Capitol Hill will be a valuable asset in Annapolis. He is former chief of staff to Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and former legislative assistant to Sen. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and served on the professional staff for House Energy and Commerce Committee and was projects and legislative assistant to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

“I am running for the House of Delegates because I believe that on the progressive values what we care about in Montgomery County, we can do better,” Kessler wrote in a statement. “I want to...make a difference in Annapolis for all our District 18 families and communities.”

The primary election is June 24 and the general election is on Nov. 4. According to the Maryland State Board of Elections, website there are four other District 18 delegate candidates registered for the primary election, all Democrats. They are incumbents Carr, Ana Sol Gutierrez and Jeff Waldstreicher and challenger Elizabeth Matory.

The photo caption with an earlier version of this story misspelled photographer Lisa Rigazio’s name.