IMAGE: Detail from Kate Stewart’s campaign kickoff invite.
GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT
This is going to be one hell of a city election.
Within seconds of Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams’ July 20 announcement that he won’t run for re-election this fall, the rusty Gears of Change began to clank and rattle.
By the time his honor finished listing his many mayoral accomplishments, the trains of thought chugging through councilmembers’ minds had filled the auditorium with hazy, billowing steam.
Mayor Bruce Williams announcing July 20 that he will not run for re-election this fall.
The next day, rumors began to spread.
Four days later, confirming one of the rumors, Ward 3 council member Kate Stewart sent out campaign kick-off invites. Her run for mayor starts Friday evening, July 24. She had a similar quick-off-the-mark campaign launch for her 2014 campaign following the death of council member Kay Daniels-Cohen. She won that special, off-year election for Ward 3.
Ward 3 councilmember Kate Steward on left (photo courtesy the candidate) Ward 1 councilmember Seth Grimes in 2012 on right.
Ward 1 councilmember Seth Grimes has not formally announced anything. UPDATE 7/24: Grimes announced his candidacy to his Ward 1 constituents in an email message to a local email discussion list. Look for a campaign kickoff event in mid-August. It will be his second attempt. He ran for mayor in 2005 against incumbent Kathy Porter. Porter won that particularly contentious election battle with around 60% of the vote. Grimes has been in office since 2011, he’s finishing his second two-year term of office.
Ward 5 council member Terry Seamens ran for mayor in 2001. He also ran against and lost to Mayor Kathy Porter. He also lost his Ward 4 seat. Elected city officials must give up their seats to run for another office.
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So, that means either Grimes or Stewart will be off the council. And it means there will be two council seats up for grabs. If a strong outside candidate emerges, they could both be off the council. That’s not likely.
Will Ward 3 see a rematch between Roger Schlegel and Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum? They were the other candidates in that 2014 special election, which ended in an exciting “instant runoff” because none of them had over 50% of the vote.
A Ward 3 candidate debate 2014. Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum on the left, Kate Stewart in the middle, and Roger Schelgel at right.
Schlagel also had a run for the mayor’s office. He challenged incumbent Bruce Williams in 2009. Your Gilbert thinks Schlegel’s odds would be better if he chose to run again for the Ward 3 council seat contest. He came a close second in the 2014 special election.
We have no pool of defeated Ward 1 council candidates to speculate with. Grimes ran unopposed in his two council seat elections.
We may see Ward 1 resident Elizabeth Wallace on the ticket for either mayor or council. She ran against Bruce Williams in 2013. She entered the race late because she didn’t think it was right that Williams should run unopposed. Though it was largely a self-sacrificial gesture to democratic principles, she had the political bug by the end of the campaign, hinting that she’d be back to run again. She’s made a few appearances at city council meetings since then.
2013 Mayoral write-in candidate Elizabeth Wallace.
There’s another possible candidate we’ve heard rumors of – a Ward 3 resident who has been allegedly saying for months that he’ll run for mayor on a strong progressive/green platform – as in getting the entire city off the grid.
As of yet no candidates have registered with the city clerk or request forms to do so. It is early, yet – the nominating caucus is Tuesday, September 29.
If you’re new to Takoma Park politics, the Nominating Caucus is not to be missed. Candidates are nominated by a supporter, then at least on supporter must second the nomination. This is always a show of strength and intimidation. The more movers-and-shakers a candidate has stand up to support them, the more inevitable they look. The candidates do not speak at the Nominating Caucus.
The 2013 Nominating Caucus.
This election the nominating caucus has been moved earlier to allow another week of campaigning. There are also a number of other gimmicks to increase turnout – such as several early-voting days.
The city’s election schedule is here.
The Voice will host a candidate’s forum sometime in October. Stay tuned.
Yep, one hell of an election.
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