Former Montgomery Planning Board chairman enters District 2 council race
One goal is improving park system, Hanson says
Former Montgomery Planning Board Chairman Royce Hanson joined what promises to be a large field of Democrats seeking the District 2 County Council seat in the hours before the candidate filing deadline Tuesday.
Hanson, who left his second tour as chairman last month despairing that council members put less stock than he believed they should in the board's advice, said at the Upcounty Regional Services Center in Germantown that the council needs a "working majority that will champion effective, healthy and sustainable planning."
"Good schools, good government, good parks are fundamental," said Hanson, a nationally renowned planner and lawyer who is regarded as the "father" of the county's agricultural reserve.
He said restoring the county's fiscal health, sustaining and strengthening the county's educational system, and protecting and improving the county's park system, along with good planning, are his priorities.
"Each generation has an obligation to act in such a way that they leave a county and state that's at least as good [as it is] and ought to be better," Hanson said.
In announcing on the day of the filing deadline, Hanson joins other Democrats who had announced their candidacies in District 2 earlier: Sharon Dooley of Olney; Charles Kirchman of Germantown; Eddie Kuhlman, who is president of Poolesville's commissioners; and Del. Craig L. Rice of Germantown, who represents District 15 in the state legislature. The filing deadline was 9 p.m. Tuesday, after The Gazette's deadline.
Republican Robin Ficker of Boyds, a former state delegate and activist for term limits and lower taxes, also has filed to run.
District 2 covers almost three-fifths of the county's land, including Montgomery Village, where he lives, Poolesville, Germantown, Clarksburg, Boyds, Olney, Damascus, Barnesville and Laytonsville in a crescent stretching from west to east across the agricultural reserve.
"It looks at the very least like people are going to have a good number of choices," said Councilman Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown, who announced last month that he would not seek re-election.
Knapp said he did not know if he would endorse a candidate.
With the Sept. 14 primary looming, Hanson said he would need to raise at least $50,000 for a campaign he plans to start this week by meeting with groups in the district.
With Clarksburg growing, Germantown needing to build its employment base, Montgomery College's Germantown campus adding students, and Olney and Damascus needing improvements in their town centers, the challenges are great in District 2, Hanson said.
The agricultural reserve needs to be protected so it is not fractured by virtual subdivisions that fragment farmland, and parks need improvement, he said.
Endorsements have not been announced, but the gathering of about 35 for Hanson's announcement included many environmental and land preservation activists.
Caroline Taylor, who lives near Poolesville, said she supports Hanson for reasons beyond just protecting the agricultural reserve.
"We need representation not just for people who live here today, but for those who are going to follow, Taylor said. "We need to balance [being] an economic engine with livability."
Hanson has decried a proposal by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to begin merging park police into the county force, arguing that the move would make parks less safe for users and would threaten the integrity of parkland that park police are trained to protect.
Hanson said he'd like to find ways to work with neighboring Frederick County to protect more farmland.