The Montgomery County Council District 3 race was expected to be a close battle between three municipal officials, but as the election results streamed in, one took a clear lead.
Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz earned 40.9 percent of the vote and the opportunity to take over Councilman Philip M. Andrews’ seat on the council. Andrews ran for the Democratic nomination for county executive and lost to incumbent Isiah Leggett.
The other contenders, Rockville Councilman Tom Moore and Gaithersburg Councilman Ryan Spiegel, drew 33.2 and 22.5 percent of the vote, respectively.
Spiegel said he was surprised by the breakdown of votes given the strength of his campaign, but he was content knowing that he put forward as much effort as possible.
“...at the end of the day, I know we ran the best race we possibly could, stayed positive, and left it all out on the field,” he wrote in an email to The Gazette.
The election’s low voter turnout — 16.6 percent countywide — is likely to have had a heavy impact on the outcome of the race, Spiegel said.
He also thought some of Moore’s campaign tactics could have affected the results.
“... [he] embraced a decidedly negative tone in the final few weeks, sending mailers that unfairly attacked me and trying to pit the City of Rockville against the other areas of the district,” he wrote.
While knocking on thousands of voters’ doors during his campaign, Moore said he consistently heard concerns about tax rates in the county. In the mailer, he wrote that Gaithersburg had raised its property tax rate 23.6 percent during the recession in 2011, but that Rockville had kept their rate steady.
“It was absolutely fair to bring that up,” he said. “It’s unrealistic to think that you could raise property tax rates 23.6 percent and not have anybody mention it in your next election.”
With Katz moving on to the County Council, the mayoral post in Gaithersburg will need to be filled in the coming months. Katz will be leaving after serving one year of his four-year term, which expires in November 2017.
Gaithersburg city law states that if a mayor or councilmember vacates his seat before his term ends, the rest of the council must appoint a replacement. The appointed official will remain on the council until the next general election, provided no public petition for a special election is received within 30 days of the appointment.
If the Gaithersburg council selects one of its own members for the position, the remaining members would also have to appoint a new member to fill that vacancy.
Spiegel said that it is too soon to decide his next move, but he is keeping his options open.
“Several people have encouraged me to consider the soon-to-be-vacant mayor position, and I am very flattered,” he wrote. “While I would never rule anything out, it is frankly way too early for me to be thinking about that or any other future roles.”
He wished Katz well in his new position and said he looks forward to continuing their work together.
Moore said that while the results were disappointing, he was proud of the campaign he and his team ran.
“Our messaging was focused, our mailers were beautifully designed, and we ran a voter-outreach effort that far surpassed the other candidates,’” he wrote in an email to The Gazette.
Moore said he believes Katz’ length of service and the name recognition that comes with it helped push Katz to the front of the race.
With the election over, Moore said he will continue to serve as a Rockville councilman.
“We have a lot of really important work ahead of us,” he wrote, “most prominently being the Rockville Pike Master Plan that the Rockville Planning Commission has just turned over to us.”