Hucker looks to move from Annapolis to Montgomery Council -- Gazette.Net


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When Montgomery’s District 5 council seat became available in January, Tom Hucker knew he had a decision to make.

Having already filed for a third term representing District 20 in the House of Delegates, Hucker was looking forward to a likely return to Annapolis when former District 5 Councilwoman Valerie Ervin announced she would be leaving the seat to work for a nonprofit.

As he began hearing from supporters urging him to consider running for council, Hucker mulled his options.

“It’s a lot to give up,” he said of leaving the General Assembly.

Serving in the Assembly was a terrific honor, Hucker said, and he was proud of the work he did there, including helping pass Maryland’s marriage equality law, an assault weapons ban, the DREAM Act and an increase in the state minimum wage.

But as the February filing deadline approached, Hucker decided that District 5 needed a council member who was an experienced advocate and would be able to jump into the legislative action of the council on the first day.

The district has the most residents who are dependent on county services and some of the most vulnerable households and residents in the county, he said.

His experience in Annapolis made him the only one of the five candidates who has worked in a legislative environment and had to gather votes to move legislation, he said.

If both are elected, Hucker would join current council President Craig L. Rice (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown, a former District 15 delegate, as the only former members of the General Assembly on the nine-member council.

Hucker is running against Board of Education member Christopher S. Barclay and community activists Evan Glass, Terrill North and Jeffrey Thames in the June 24 Democratic primary.

With no Republican running in the district, the primary winner will face no challenger in the Nov. 4 general election.

Councilwoman Cherri Branson (D) currently represents District 5 but agreed not to run in the 2014 race as part of her appointment to the seat. Branson and Ervin have both endorsed Barclay in the primary.

If he’s elected, Hucker said he’ll focus on issues such as limiting the disruption to the district caused by construction of the Purple Line light-rail project.

He’ll also continue his work trying to expand pre-kindergarten, which he said is the best investment in early education and a way to address many social problems that arise later.

“We should be investing much more Montgomery County dollars in pre-kindergarten,” Hucker said.

He said the county is considerably behind Washington, D.C. in that area, he said.

He’d also like to focus on connecting high school graduates to training that allows them to get good jobs out of school.

Not every Montgomery student goes on to college, and the county needs to provide more money for vocational training and align high school curricula with skills that will translate to the types of jobs that will be available in the future, he said. And since county government has so much interaction with constituents, Hucker said his office would put a premium on constituent service, trying to be proactive in solving problems in neighborhoods.

Before running for his delegate seat, Hucker spent seven years as the executive director of Progressive Montgomery and Progressive Maryland, organizations dedicated to increasing the influence and improving the lives of working families.

Hucker said that to him, progressive means making government responsive to what the public wants.

rmarshall@gazette.net