Montgomery teachers union supports most county council incumbents -- Gazette.Net


Montgomery County’s teachers union named five incumbents May 21 in its second and final round of endorsements for the upcoming Montgomery County Council races.

The union, which represents more than 12,000 Montgomery County Public Schools teachers, endorsed County Councilman Roger Berliner of Bethesda for the District 1 seat; Council President Craig L. Rice of Germantown for the District 2 seat; Councilwoman Nancy Navarro of Silver Spring for the District 4 seat and Marc Elrich of Takoma Park and Hans Riemer of Takoma Park for at-large seats.

The union endorsed only two candidates running for at-large positions, though the County Council includes four at-large seats.

The recommendations leave out two incumbents seeking re-election: Council Vice President George L. Leventhal of Takoma Park and Councilwoman Nancy Floreen of Garrett Park, who each hold an at-large seat.

The union announced in March its endorsements of Gaithersburg City Councilman Ryan Spiegel for the council’s District 3 seat and county school board member Christopher S. Barclay for the District 5 seat.

Councilman Philip M. Andrews of Gaithersburg, who currently holds the council’s District 3 seat, is running for Montgomery County Executive. Councilwoman Cherri Branson of Silver Spring was appointed to the District 5 seat and is not seeking election.

The primary election falls on June 24 and the general election on Nov. 4.

A May 21 union statement said that multiple factors were considered in the endorsement process, including “the temperament of each candidate and how she/he interacted with the interview teams and with school system leaders during the recent Montgomery County budget discussions.”

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the union did not like that, during a budget discussion with school officials, Leventhal brought up a February incident in which a young student was dropped off at the wrong bus stop.

Doug Prouty, the union’s president, would not comment on Leventhal’s comments during budget discussions. He rather echoed part of the union’s May 21 statement, saying that interactions between school officials and council members was a factor in the endorsement process.

Prouty also said the union committee that interviewed the candidates “did not put his name forward.”

Leventhal — whom the union endorsed in 2002, 2006 and 2010 — said he does not “regret asking questions of [Superintendent Joshua P. Starr] if that’s what triggered the [union’s] decisions.”

“I don’t think we should just usher the school budget through the council in five seconds or without asking any questions about it,” he said.

Floreen said she has never received a teachers union endorsement and that she has “no idea why.”

“I assume they think I don’t cozy up to them sufficiently,” she said.

She said she “couldn’t identify any differences” between herself and the candidates the union does support.

“I’ve always been respectful and supported their initiatives,” she said.

Prouty said in an interview that among the challengers to the County Council incumbents, candidate Beth Daly — who is seeking an at-large seat — “received the most serious consideration.”

The incumbents the union endorsed “have a history of recognizing the key role MCPS [Montgomery County Public Schools] plays in the quality of life for Montgomery County residents, both those who have students in our schools and those who do not,” he said in the union statement.