Friday, May 15, 2009

Does Robin Ficker Live in District 4?

Republican District 4 nominee Robin Ficker has been making a big deal about his new East County residency, referring to “our district” in debates and criticizing Democrat Nancy Navarro for out-of-district contributions. But it turns out that Ficker himself may not actually live in District 4.

Section 102 of the Montgomery County Charter states:

The Council shall be composed of nine members, each of whom shall be a qualified voter of Montgomery County. Four Councilmembers shall be nominated and elected by the qualified voters of the entire County. Each of the five other members of the Council shall, at the time of election, reside in a different Council district, and shall be nominated and elected by the qualified voters of that district.
A County Attorney Opinion from 1990 further clarifies that:

Charter Section 102 requires those candidates running for election to the County Council from a councilmanic district to reside in the district they are seeking to represent. Residency must be established by the date of the primary election and maintained throughout the Council member’s term of office.
On February 23, the Gazette’s Janel Davis broke the story that Robin Ficker was moving from Boyds to “a house in the Fairland Estates area of the district on the perhaps ironically named Peaceful Lane.” We looked up the tax assessments for every house on that street and post them below:

Ficker is not listed as an owner of any of these houses. Furthermore, all but two of them are claimed as principal residences by their owners, who receive homestead credits towards their property taxes. The other two houses have the following listed phone numbers:

The phone number for 1303 Peaceful Lane is disconnected. The phone number for 1411 Peaceful Lane is answered by a message from “the Beanes.” None of this rules out the possibility that Ficker lives in a basement or accessory apartment in one of the homes on the street.

But there is more. On his property tax bill, Ficker still claims his house in Boyds as his principal residence. He is saving $2,250.81 in homestead and property tax credits this year.

Ficker “changed his residency” once before to run for office, challenging Senator P.J. Hogan in District 39 in 2002. But Ficker continued to claim his Boyds home as his principal residence back then too.

Finally, Ficker has just one listed home phone number in Maryland: the one at his home in Boyds.

If Robin Ficker truly is a resident of District 4, why does he own no property and have no phone number inside the district while he continues to have a listed phone number and a homestead credit for his “principal residence” in Boyds?