Stern dumped from party slate for state legislature

Hogan, Barkley and King plan to stay together as a joint Democratic slate for the November election

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Del. Joan Stern will have to go it alone this year in her bid to keep a seat in the state legislature.

Stern, who is wrapping up her second term in the House of Delegates, was on a joint Democratic slate with Sen. Patrick Hogan and fellow delegates Charles Barkley and Nancy King for the 2002 elections.

After meetings with Stern last week and Monday morning, Barkley, of Germantown, and Hogan and King, both of Montgomery Village, decided that Stern would not be a part of this year’s slate.

‘‘She’s being dropped,” said Barkley, chairman of the Montgomery County delegation to Annapolis. ‘‘I would say it just was not working as a team. I think the three of us [Hogan, King and Barkley] really work well as a team, but not the four of us.”

The district they represent, 39, covers Montgomery Village, Washington Grove, North Potomac and parts of Germantown and has 110,000 residents, 29,781 of whom voted in the 2002 elections.

Stern, who lives in North Potomac, is one of 141 delegates from 47 districts in the state.

In an interview Monday night, minutes before the interview with Barkley, Stern was less direct about the news.

‘‘It’s something that we’re talking about. I would say that we’re having ongoing discussions about what we’re going to be doing,” she said. ‘‘My focus is always on constituents, they are my top priority. I do what’s best for my constituents. Sometimes that means working on a team, sometimes that means working solo.”

Rumors have swirled for months that Stern would be dropped, especially as the district’s representatives continually pushed back the date for jointly announcing for November’s election.

Reached Tuesday morning, Hogan said the decision was based on the success of the working relationship among he, King and Barkley, and less at specific issues with Stern.

‘‘I can’t point to any one thing,” he said. ‘‘We just decided that Charlie and Nancy and I work very well together as a team... and that we gelled together very well.”

Saqib Ali, a Democrat who lives in Gaithersburg, is the sole new candidate to so far throw his hat into the race.

In what is his first foray into the political arena, he has launched a vigorous campaign he has described as a grass-roots effort.

Barkley was careful to point out Monday night that Ali would not be swapped into Stern’s spot on the slate.

‘‘Basically, right now, Hogan, King and myself are running together and we’re not supporting anyone else,” he said.

Stern, 63, has been the deputy majority whip since 2003. She is a member of the Environmental Matters Committee, the Maryland Green Caucus, and the Women Legislators of Maryland.

She was vocal late last year and early this year as the Village faced the prospect of a high-rise senior living community coming to the 140-acre Montgomery Village Golf Club.

Those fears abated when the developer withdrew the proposal, and Stern says she will remain loyal to the Village despite having moved to North Potomac last year.

‘‘Montgomery Village, I lived there for 25 years, I have a lot of friends and supporters there,” she said. ‘‘Percentage-wise, Montgomery Village still takes up most of my time.”

Candidates have until July to file for the election.