Friday, June 8, 2018

HoCo District One: The Case for Weinstein

Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

As was the case in 2014, I still actively dislike writing about D1 primaries.

That said, I feel compelled (and dyspeptic) to re-visit the campaign in the District in the East.

As the present author opined not-too-long ago, I support Jon Weinstein’s re-election.  I believe he has been a strong advocate for the First District (at a time when informed, experienced, and effective advocacy is critical).  I believe he is highly knowledgeable about the issues and challenges facing Howard County in general and the communities in D1 specifically.  I believe he is a hard worker and is inclined to be a consensus-builder. 

Let us not forget that he won a battleground seat in 2014.  After the general election results came in, I took a look at the open seats won by Democratic candidates in competitive races at the County and State Legislative levels, state-wide.  In a bad year for Democrats up and down the ticket, including right here in Howard County, Jon was one of a handful of success stories.  He didn’t get there by accident…his campaign was smart, strategic, focused, and tireless. 

He emerged victorious out of a tough primary, thoroughly vetted and trial-tested. 

He took a 33.21% plurality, brought the party back together, and went on to defeat Kevin Forrest Schmidt by a 51% - 49% margin.  Frankly, I don’t think any of Jon’s primary challengers could have pulled it off…maybe Wendy Royalty (who I think is amazing and who needs to run for office again, somewhere, and soon).

Can you imagine if Schmidt had won in D1?  That would have put two Republicans on the County Council…combined with some odd votes coming out of D4 this term…that would have meant only two consistently reliable progressives on the County Council on many issues.

In these times, we need the strongest Democrats on the field as our standard-bearers.  They don’t need to be perfect, but they need to be our best.  I believe that Jon is the Party’s best candidate to secure D1 and (by doing so) ensure a solid Democratic majority on the County Council.

Elizabeth “Liz” Walsh may be a great person, a good activist, and an engaged community member.  I don’t know much about her. But that isn’t the point (especially since I reside in D4) …my point is that I don’t believe that she is nearly as well known in D1 as Jon and I don’t know how she would fare in a contested general election campaign against Raj Kathuria.  I know she works at Jones Day, which has been called “Donald Trump’s Favorite Law Firm” (Bloomberg, 2017).  Feel free to Google “Jones Day” and “Trump” for more background on these connections. I know she worked on, amongst others, a case where Jones Day “represented the owners of a new coal fired power plant” (information found on the Jones Day website).   So there is that.

Now, to be fair, it is entirely possible to be a good Democrat and to work at Jones Day and to be a good Democrat and provide legal services for energy producers.  My broader point is that I don’t believe her campaign has undergone the same level of scrutiny that Jon’s campaign had in 2014, or Wendy Royalty’s or Lisa Markovitz’s or Dave Grabowski’s in the same election cycle for the same seat.  This is not a time for unknowns or surprises.     

Where to assess blame for this lack of oversight?  I will take some of the responsibility.  I simply haven’t given this race the time and attention it deserves.  I think the lack of election coverage by traditional media outlets, at the County Council level, has also removed from the field those who can assess candidates critically and, by doing so, help inform the electorate.  We are left heavily reliant, too reliant, on the campaigns themselves for information about where they stand and their vision for Howard County.  We need more fact-checkers.  We need to dig deep and look at the candidates and their records…their full records, blemishes and all.

I do not pretend to be an objective, uninterested party.  But I am a progressive Democrat who wants to win.  Right now, there are just too many unknowns when it comes to Liz Walsh.  She might be a stellar option for 2022 or 2026.  But here and now in 2018?  I stand with Jon. 

In solidarity.


  1. Don't forget that Kevin Schmidt was
    a progressive, anti-development, pro-school funding/education candidate. Jon Weinstein has collected MORE THAN $70,000 in funds from developers and homebuilders and their LLC's. Endorsement of him is an endorsement of continued overdevelopment in the Patapsco watershed.

  2. I have always viewed Jon Weinstein as a right to moderate Democrat not a progressive in anyway. He and Kittleman seem to have a very cozy relationship and Weinstein has sided with him on two issues I thought might concern you - Sanctuary County vote (progressive?) and AFPO (which is a unifying cross-party issue - controlling growth). Kittleman and Weinstein until the May 27th 2nd '1000 year' flood were also touting the rebuilding of Old Ellicott City as a great accomplishment. Several issues here - Should it have been rebuilt as quickly (prior to 2018 elections amazingly)? Why has current Council and CE done little to quell out of control building above OEC? Why doesn't AFPO address transportation or stormwater management? Who among current candidates - Republican and Democrats - are refusing to take money/support from contractors?

    On Liz Walsh I knew little about her but I did 5 minutes of internet research and found this:

    It appears to me that her construction and legal background would be of benefit to the County. She is a current resident of Old EC, long time Howard County resident, has two young school age children, and she appears to be more concerned with issues that matter to most D1 residents. I think she offers a great alternative to both Weinstein and Kathuria.

  3. In District 1, the starkest contrast between the democratic candidates is in funds. Jon Weinstein has collected OVER $70,000 from developers, builders and their LLC's. By contrast, candidates not taking developer money raise less than $10,000 for this small, local race. (Also, as a point of fact, Kevin Forrest Schmidt was (and remains) progressive. Pro education, pro school funding, pro teacher, anti development, socually liberal, etc.- I should know, I'm a very liberal Democrat and I'm married to him. It's a shame many folks never bothered to learn about him). Painting this race, and Jon Weinstein as the "experienced" choice is inaccurate, unless the experience you're looking for is taking money from developers. A vote for Weinstein is a vote for continued development, continued in-fill and continuing degradation of the watershed surrounding old-town Ellicott City. You've said yourself that you haven't done the research. You should. It matters to anyone who cares about #ECStrong. Developers are running this town, and one of these candidates. To shrug your shoulders and pick one because his name is familiar and he seems safe is irresponsible.

    1. First, greetings. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with my blog. Read my post (and others) carefully. I have done my homework, as I have since I moved here several years ago. What I said was that I was not immersed in this race. I just haven't felt much like writing about it. I have read their platforms and I know where they stand, no "shrugging" here. The point is that I have more confidence in Mr. Weinstein's ability to be an effective representative for District One. He and I may differ on approach and on certain issues, but his experience rolling his sleeves up and working for the people of the First is undeniable. What is unknown is whether or not Ms. Walsh can translate her professional skills into being an effective Council Member. What is also unknown is Ms. Walsh's potential as a candidate in a general election. What is also less known is the extent to which she worked with, or alongside of, bad actors while at Jones Day. The fact is that she hasn't received a great deal of scrutiny, as a candidate, which was one of the points from my original post. Some candidates can deal with such attention, others crumble. Mr. Weinstein has been tested and I don't believe that Ms. Walsh has. Since the First is the one true swing-district on the Council, I am more confident in Mr. Weinstein's ability to hold the seat.

    2. I'm very familiar with your blog - it's why I challenged you to look deeper. You didn't question Weinstein's untested ability to lead when he ran last time, but you question Ms. Walsh's. Why? You dont question Mr. Weinstein's $70,000 in developer money - why? Which of his "100 day" promises did he keep? Have you bothered to find out. He promised to never stop door knocking - do you know anyone who had him knock at their door after the election? What has he accomplished beyond gathering money and NOT protecting old-town? He's been tested but by what measure has he passed? Are we better off IN ANY WAY than we were before he was elected? Our schools are more crowded, our town is rubble again, hundreds more homes have been built by his developer friends and even more approved. Can you honestly say that District 1 is better? I certainly can't - and I actually live in it.

    3. 1. Four years ago - it was an open seat, so no one had a record as a Council Member. They were all equally "untested." That is not the case now.
      2. I think Mr. Weinstein's actual record on development is more nuanced than the picture you are painting. He has proposed restrictions on development, including in Ellicott City. Tom (below) also notes legislation that Mr. Weinstein had introduced or helped passed in an effort to deal with challenges related to growth.
      3. I know Mr. Weinstein has been active in the community, including (but far from limited to) his Community Cabinet meetings, which he established back in '15, early in his first term.
      4. I can't speak to the "developer friends" point you raise, but I do know that Ms. Walsh's law firm (Jones Day) states on their website that they have been "honored" to work with clients such as Purdue Pharma (opioids), Gazprom (a Russian government-owned natural gas company), and Experian (the credit reporting agency with the massive data breach), amongst others...I know it is a large law firm and I don't know if Ms. Walsh worked on any of those accounts, but that sure is an interesting client roster.

  4. Jon passed legislation curbing in-fill development as well as increased stormwater requirements on all development. He attempted a bill that would have imposed a moratorium on all development in the watershed, which ultimately pushed the Council to pass more stringent requirements on new development . The suggestion that he works for his “developer friends” is not supported by Jon’s record on the Council. Maybe you can point to a bill he filed on their behalf? And, yes, he did continue to knock on doors and has for the last 4 years.

    And since you appear to be a supporter of Ms. Walsh, could you please describe her efforts to help Ellicott City after the 2016 flood? I was very involved in that recovery process and don’t recall having seen or met her. I also don’t recall her testifying in support of Jon’s moratorium or the increased stormwater requirements. What was her involvement there?

    I am assuming that you published Nikki's more negative characterization of Jon Weinstein rather than mine because you didn't know who I was so ...
    My actual name is Jack Guarneri I am 70 yo recent APL retiree, a graduate of the Naval Academy and retired Naval Officer who despite all that is liberal socially and politically. I've lived off Centennial Lane in District 1 for almost 28 years. I am a first generation American - both my parents came from towns in Sicily that our esteemed President would characterize as 'shitholes' (neither of them saw the inside of a HS). Despite and because of that (and help from a good education system in NYC) my brother and I did graduate from good colleges and went on to serve our communities as a public school teacher and Naval Officer and community volunteers. I am using alias John J. (or Jay reference a fellow New Yorker - I did take history and civics in school) since I testify and meet with CE and Council as President of a 501(c)4 non-profit ( for capital expenditure.

    I've been a registered Independent for over 45 years since I became aware that politicians and their pragmatic followers were, whether Democrat or Republican, the ones that sent me and my friends to war and favored those that could help them get elected rather than their constituents.

    Supporting a 'blue dog Democrat' because he is electable in a Blue State and a Blue County is not progressive. Supporting a politician who expedited cosmetically 'fixing' OEC rather than accepting climate change was occurring and the County Government had screwed up in allowing the hills above OEC to be developed is not noble. Accepting donations from developers provides an open door, whether voting record shows it or not, and is inappropriate in a County where the Council is the Zoning Board. Since Trump and me-too younger more progressive Democratic women have been encouraged to run for office. Maybe you should consider encouraging them.

    1. Hi John. Greetings. Actually I didn't receive any notification that you tried to post earlier, as your first paragraph implies. It might have to do with recent changes to the Blogger platform, which is why I opened up the comments section w/o moderation (at least for now).

      To your point, I don't believe that Mr. Weinstein is a "blue dog Democrat." Granted, most Ds are to my right, so I suppose it's a question of degree but he strikes me as a center-left sort, definitely not a DINO. And i think progressives stand a better chance of moving our legislation forward with D1 in Democratic hands, and Mr. Weinstein has shown his electoral mettle whereas Mr. Walsh has not.

      As I stated to Nikki - i believe Mr. Weinstein's record on development has been over-simplified by some...and he has taken actions to restrict development. These are facts.

      I am not a candidate for public office, so it is easy for me to tell you i would not accept developer contributions. I am not going to shame Democratic candidates who do.

      My record on supporting progressive women candidates is actually pretty darn good, if I may say so myself. And perhaps I will support Ms. Walsh in a future bid, but not in D1 in 2018.