Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Cheryl Kagan is the Right Choice for District 17

By Jud Ashman.

First things first. Voters in Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Garrett Park are fortunate to have two exemplary people, Jennie Forehand and Cheryl Kagan, vying for the State Senate nomination in the September 14 Democratic Primary. As the pols and close observers all know, campaigning is an all-consuming, emotional business and, invariably, as Election Day approaches, tensions rise. It’s remarkable, and a credit to our district, that these candidates – as well as their volunteers - have maintained a high level of civility during this vigorous contest. Our favorite blogger, Adam Pagnucco, has dubbed it “The Classiest Race in MoCo” and, even as the messages out of each campaign start to get a little more direct, I think he’s probably right.

Now, going into this Primary, we have a pretty good idea of what will be on the table in Annapolis in the 2011 session – and it’s all grim stuff:

· A [pick a number: 1 through 3] billion dollar deficit;

· The specter of teacher pensions being sent back to the counties;

· Challenges funding education, transit, and all of your other favorite priorities;

· Proposals on tax rate increases, which will need to be balanced against the objective of fostering business and economic development; and

· A long tradition of balancing State budgets on the backs of Montgomery County residents and taxpayers.

So, there are the cards. The question is: whom do we want at the table?

It’s probably fair to say that Jennie Forehand and Cheryl Kagan agree on the vast majority of the issues; they’re both pragmatic in their approach – perhaps a little more centrist in their politics than either would care to admit during a primary. What really sets each apart is her leadership style: Jennie Forehand serving the last 31 years as the unassuming, self-described “worker bee;” Cheryl Kagan’s style being the more assertive, upfront advocate, “let’s make it happen” type.

Folks, sometimes tough circumstances call for a different kind of leadership. That is to say, “It’s time to re-shuffle the deck!”

Our cities and our County at large need a real “go-getter;” a staunch advocate, someone who’s not afraid to shake things up, but who can also build coalitions around important issues. Those qualities, and more, are united in Cheryl Kagan.

Cheryl’s smarts, savvy, and experience are obvious to even the most casual observer (or Scrabble opponent); and her infectious charm obvious to any who’ve been in the same room. However, I’d like to add a personal observation, having had the opportunity to get to know her pretty well over the last year or two: I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone as dedicated to “follow-through”, to “leaving no stone unturned,” in order to get things done as Cheryl Kagan. That’s exactly the sort of leadership we need right now.

With the larger issues facing our County, and those facing our municipalities (e.g., In Gaithersburg, we’ve lost about 27% of our entire state funding over the last two years), we need someone like Cheryl Kagan at that table.

Jennie Forehand has served us well over the years and certainly has earned our praise. What I liked about the Washington Post’s endorsement of Cheryl Kagan was that it struck a balance between appreciation for Jennie Forehand’s service and an acknowledgement that Cheryl Kagan is the right choice for today and tomorrow. I agree with them in both regards.

Times like these demand an independent minded, effective advocate. And so I urge Democratic Party voters in Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Garrett Park to come out on September 14th and support Cheryl Kagan.

Full Disclosure: I am not affiliated with any party, and thus not a registered Democrat.

Jud Ashman
Member, Gaithersburg City Council