Tuesday, December 10, 2013

MoCo Councilmember Valerie Ervin Resigning to Run Center for Working Families // Who'll Run for D5 Council & What Next?

PUTTING AN END TO THE RUMORS: In the last few weeks, Maryland Juice has heard numerous rumors about Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin. In one story she found an Italian lover and was moving out of the United States. In another version, Ervin was planning on taking a job with SEIU. And in yet another round of speculation about Councilmember Ervin, she had decided to run for County Executive in 2014. Indeed, this speculation was fueled in some ways by the Councilmember herself, as a few days ago we started to see things like an email blast from Ervin with the subject line, "The Best Is Yet to Come." Then last week, Councilmember Ervin put out a press release stating "Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin to Announce Future Plans." Indeed, talk of a potential departure of Valerie Ervin from the County Council has been the talk of the town as I attended various political events this past week.

But as it turns out, all of those rumors were false. Below Maryland Juice discusses the actual big news from Valerie Ervin, as well as speculation and commentary from a few potential candidates who may seek her seat. We also talk a bit about how this vacancy will be handled, and what the political world looks like going forward. But first, the big news:

Councilmember Valerie Ervin at an October 2013 press conference in support of a minimum wage increase

JUICE #1: VALERIE ERVIN TO VACATE COUNCIL SEAT TO HEAD CENTER FOR WORKING FAMILIES - Today, Councilmember Ervin announced she would be resigning from her District 5 County Council in January 2014, to serve as Executive Director of the Center for Working Families. Indeed, many months ago, Maryland Juice had been hearing murmurs that organizers related to the New York-based Working Families Party were looking to setup shop in the DC Metro region. The placeholder website for the new Center for Working Families states:
The Center for Working Families is a national 501(c)3 policy and issue campaign organization that engages in issue advocacy and public education for policy campaigns at the state and local level. The Center for Working Families is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates or political parties.

The Center incubates and develops compelling issue campaigns, provides resources and technical assistance to state policy campaigns, and injects our values into the national political discourse.
Additionally, the job description for Ervin's new position notes that the Executive Director will be working out of Washington, DC or New York. In any case, you can find out about Ervin's announcement about the big change in her video and press release below (which also includes a timeline for her departure):


  Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin to Serve as Advocate for Working Families Throughout the Nation
She Will Become Executive Director of the Center for Working Families in January

ROCKVILLE, Md., December 10, 2013—Councilmember Valerie Ervin announced today that, after nearly a decade as an elected leader in Montgomery County, she will expand her work on policy issues that impact working people by becoming executive director of the Center for Working Families. At the announcement, Councilmember Ervin was joined by Maryland State Senator Jamie Raskin; County Executive Isiah Leggett; Council President Craig Rice, Councilmember Nancy Navarro; Mayor of Somerset Jeffrey Slavin; Metropolitan D.C. Council AFL-CIO President Joslyn Williams; president of SEIU Florida State Council and executive vice president of 1199 SEIU Monica Russo; and community leaders who thanked Ervin for her service to the County and congratulated her on her new position.

Ervin has long been an advocate for those who have no voice in the political process.  She is best known for her work on issues including: raising the minimum wage; increasing child care subsidies for working parents; ensuring that prevailing wages are paid on construction projects; providing contract protections for service workers; expanding summer food and universal breakfast programs for children; and creating the first county-wide food recovery network in the nation.  As chair of the Council’s Education Committee, and as a former member of the County Board of Education, she has focused on major initiatives to close the achievement gap.  Councilmember Ervin has also been a strong advocate for marriage equality.

Rice discussed Ervin’s commitment to public service and said, “Councilmember Ervin has been an ardent champion for working families and children in Montgomery County throughout her tenure on the Council.  She should be commended for her leadership and advocacy for food recovery as sustainability, education equality, and workers rights.  I want to thank her for making a positive impact and enhancing the lives of our residents.”

Navarro, a longtime friend and colleague said, “Councilmember Ervin has a stellar public service record, and Montgomery County residents are better off because of her vision, dedication and tenacity.  Her contributions have made a permanent impact on the fabric of our communities.”

The Center for Working Families is a non-profit organization based in New York that seeks a more just world—one where jobs that pay a living wage are plentiful, health care is affordable, access to educational opportunities are abundant and retirements are secure.

"Becoming executive director of the Center for Working Families is a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Ervin.  "I was both surprised and honored to be asked to pursue these issues at the national level.  After careful reflection and deliberation with my family, friends and supporters, I believe that leading this organization will enable me to have a greater impact on the issues I care about most."

Ervin talked about her years as an elected leader and said, “I started my political career as a concerned mom who cared about the welfare of all of the children in our community, and this will never change. As I transition to a broader platform, my experiences in this community will serve me well.

“I appreciate the relationships that I have developed with many of you through the years and with elected leaders throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region. I also want to thank my colleagues on the County Council.”

Councilmember Ervin was elected to the Board of Education in 2004 and to the Council in 2006 and 2010.  She served as Council president from 2010 to 2011.  Councilmember Ervin will tender her letter of resignation on Jan. 3, 2014.  Later in January, the Council will appoint her successor, who will serve until the Council’s current term ends on Dec. 1, 2014.  Until Jan. 3, Ervin will wrap up projects she is working on for the residents of District 5.  Her staff will remain in place.  

“It has been a tremendous privilege to serve the residents of District 5,” said Councilmember Ervin. “Thank you for allowing me to make a difference and for your ongoing support and friendship.  Together we have accomplished great things, and I know that the best is still to come.”

NOTE: Attached to this release is a summary of Ervin’s accomplishments as a Councilmember.  The same can also be found at the following:

In a column today, Center Maryland's Josh Kurtz zeroed in on the entry of the Working Families Party in local politics:
JOSH KURTZ (VIA CENTER MARYLAND): Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D) is set to announce today that she will resign in early January to become executive director of the Center for Working Families, a national 501(c)3 issue advocacy and education organization affiliated with the politically ascendant Working Families Party.

It’s big news, of course, for Ervin’s own promising political career – and for Montgomery County politics. Already there is buzz that state Del. Tom Hucker (D) may choose to seek Ervin’s Council seat.

But perhaps more significantly, it’s further evidence that the progressive and tactically effective WFP, which has close ties to important labor unions and was a major player in Bill de Blasio’s insurgent victory in the New York City mayoral election this fall, is about to make major inroads into Maryland. This should have a significant impact on the looming debate in Annapolis over raising the minimum wage, on the 2014 elections, and on the future political discourse in Maryland – particularly in its largest jurisdictions....

She will, roughly speaking, be an equal to Dan Cantor, the veteran labor organizer who founded WFP in the late 1990’s and remains in charge of the organization today. WFP is a 501(c)4 – typically referred to as a social welfare organization, but equipped to engage in partisan political battles.... Raise Maryland, a coalition that was formed to fight for a higher minimum wage in the state, is, not surprisingly, substantially backed by 1199 – and the Working Families Party..... 
Valerie Ervin will have a lot of say over this – and over the direction of an organization that is poised to have a huge influence over a variety of political and policy debates over the next few years. For Ervin, it’s a chance to work several of her pet issues on a bigger stage. But the job is likely to keep her politically viable in Maryland down the line, if that’s what she wants....
Meanwhile, The Washington Post's Bill Turque provided some context on the resignation through commentary from Ervin (excerpt below):
WASHINGTON POST: “Politicians see these jobs as jobs for life. I don’t think that bodes well for democracy at the end of the day,” said Ervin, a former organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers union who spent two years as an elected member of the Montgomery Board of Education before winning the council seat in 2006.

She left the door wide open for an eventual return to public office, however, including a possible spot in state government if Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown wins the Maryland governorship next year. Ervin has been an early and enthusiastic supporter of Brown and running mate Ken Ulman.

“If the opportunity presented itself? Absolutely,” she said, adding that she would commute to New York and remain a Montgomery County resident....

A WINNING RECORD FOR UNDERDOG & DARK HORSE POLITICAL CANDIDATES: Though Ervin's announcement today is going to be creating ripples through Montgomery County politics over the coming weeks and months, the big move is no surprise to Maryland Juice. One aspect that has gone unmentioned in the coverage of Ervin so far, is that in terms of electoral politics, the District 5 Councilmember has been one of the better prognosticators in Montgomery County politics. Ervin was perhaps the first elected official to endorse Jamie Raskin in his upstart bid for the State Senate in 2006, and she also bucked parochial politics to back Martin O'Malley over Doug Duncan that same year. Ervin also provided early support to Nancy Navarro for Board of Education and then later for County Council. She was also one of the earliest endorsers of her former election opponent Hans Riemer when he won a Council seat in 2010, and two years later backed newcomer Jarrett Smith in a successful bid for a seat on the Takoma Park City Council. (Full disclosure: Valerie Ervin endorsed the author of this article in the District 20 House race; the author was also involved in a number of the races listed above). Most recently, Ervin was perhaps the first elected Montgomery County endorser of Anthony Brown's gubernatorial campaign.

JUICE #2: POSSIBLE CANDIDATES FOR THE JUNE 2014 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR DISTRICT 5 COUNTY COUNCIL - In the days leading up to Ervin's announcement, Maryland Juice began hearing about potential candidates who might seek the District 5 Council seat in the upcoming Democratic Primary. Note that this race is going to get interesting, because I'm friends with or friendly with a few of these possible candidates, and I suspect the same may be true for others. Here are a few notes on how the race might shape up going forward:
CASEY ANDERSON: Sources indicate that Montgomery County Planning Board member Casey Anderson is weighing a run for the District 5 Council seat. He was formerly a board member of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and a staff member at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Anderson has been involved with recent transit and smart growth issues on the Planning Board and might be able to meet the fundraising thresholds for what is expected to be an expensive Council race.

CHRIS BARCLAY: Over the weekend, MoCo Board of Education President Chris Barclay told Maryland Juice he is strongly weighing a run for the D5 Council seat. Barclay has served on the school board since 2006, and his BOE district overlaps with much of Ervin's Council district. Notably, Council District 5 was altered in the last round of redistricting, and now contains sizeable numbers of African American voters. Meanwhile Barclay might be of one of two African American candidates eyeing the D5 seat.

EVAN GLASS: The first candidate to announce for Ervin's Council seat was Evan Glass, the Chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board and a former CNN producer. Glass held a well-attended campaign kickoff for the D5 seat this past weekend (before it was known Ervin was retiring) and has been reaching out to residents through his role as a civic association leader. Glass is also on the Board of Equality Maryland and would be the only openly gay Councilmember to be elected in Montgomery County.

TOM HUCKER: One of the three Delegates from House District 20, Tom Hucker tells Maryland Juice that supporters have reached out to him in recent days and encouraged him to run for the District 5 Council seat. The D20 Delegate formerly served as the head of Progressive Maryland. Hucker's House District overlaps with much of Ervin's Council district, and if he gets in the race, it is expected that he would have strong support from organized labor. Hucker will also be able to spend whatever he's raised for his Delegate seat thus far on the Council race, and may start with a leg up on fundraising.

TERRILL NORTH: Currently an announced candidate for an at-large County Council seat, Terrill North currently works at the defense contracting firm Alion Science and Technology Corporation. North also has an active political life and serves on the Boards of the ACLU of Maryland, Impact Silver Spring, and Progressive Neighbors. It is unclear what his next move may be, as North may decide to stay in the at-large race, or drop into the District 5 seat, now that there will be a vacancy. As the second potential African American candidate that might enter the race, North may have an opportunity to capitalize on the demographics of the newly redrawn D5.

Ronnie Galvin as caretaker?
JUICE #3: A POTENTIAL CARETAKER APPOINTMENT FOR THE LAST YEAR OF VALERIE ERVIN'S COUNCIL TERM? - As rumors of Ervin's departure began to spread this week, Maryland Juice began hearing a lot of talk about a possible "caretaker" appointment for the District 5 Council seat. After all, with the next Primary and General Elections not to be concluded until late 2014, there is a full year left in Ervin's term. When she vacates her seat in January, her remaining eight council colleagues will appoint a replacement, and a few (though not all) of them are suggesting they are inclined to appoint someone who will not run in the June 2014 Democratic Primary.

Obviously the Councilmembers will be free to vote how they want, but I'm beginning to hear from a few people who are interested in applying for a caretaker appointment. The early buzz, however, is that there is support within some circles for Ronnie Galvin, the head of local community group Impact Silver Spring, to serve as a one-year Councilmember.  Impact Silver Spring's website notes the following mission (excerpt below):
IMPACT SILVER SPRING: IMPACT Silver Spring was founded in 1999 during the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring. The concept of IMPACT Silver Spring was born when these founders developed a community-wide leadership program, bringing people together across lines of difference for relationship- and skill-building....

Our Mission: To build and sustain community-based networks that support people who are creating social, economic, and civic momentum that contributes to inclusive local economies and vibrant communities.
Given how quickly the candidate fields are shaping and shifting, Maryland Juice will report back soon on the possible appointees for the District 5 Council seat -- but I'll have to do some poking around first!

In the meantime, the concept of a caretaker appointment was quickly embraced by D5 Council candidate Evan Glass. Moments after Ervin announced her retirement, he sent out the following press release calling for a caretaker appointment:

Statement on Councilmember Valerie Ervin

Silver Spring, MD – Evan Glass, a candidate for the Montgomery County Council’s 5th District, released the following statement today in response to Councilmember Valerie Ervin’s announcement that she will be resigning from the Montgomery County Council.

“I want to thank Councilmember Valerie Ervin for her service and dedication to the residents of Montgomery County,” Glass said. “For over a decade Councilmember Ervin has been a tireless champion for Montgomery County’s diverse communities, exhibited by her steadfast leadership on issues ranging from raising the minimum wage to creating a county-wide network of food services for those who are hungry to her fierce advocacy in support of marriage equality. If a society is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members, Valerie Ervin has provided Montgomery County with a level of compassion that should make our society proud.”

“For the last seven years I have worked with Councilmember Ervin to make the greater Silver Spring - Takoma Park community a wonderful place to live, work and play. We teamed up to create the King Street Community Garden, the first community garden built as a public-private partnership, and she provided the community and I with unending support to improve pedestrian safety measures, assist struggling small businesses and to establish the South Silver Spring Street Festival. As president of both the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association and Indian Spring Citizens Association I knew that I could always count on Councilmember Ervin and her staff to provide guidance and assistance to our community.” 

With Councilmember Ervin announcing her intention to resign from the County Council in the coming weeks, her departure will trigger a replacement process, one in which the remaining eight members of the Council have 30 days to select a successor. Selecting an appointee who would then run for the same office in June only negates the peoples’ vote and weakens our democratic system.

Evan Glass said, “Montgomery County residents expect a fair election in the upcoming primary in June 2014. It is imperative that we don’t weaken our democratic system by selecting an individual who would only use the appointment as a platform to run in the June primary. The only way to ensure that the residents of District 5 truly have a voice in the process is by having the Council appoint a caretaker who would serve out the remainder of the term and agree not to run in the June primary. The caretaker should publicly pledge not to run for the seat in the June primary, otherwise it would create a breach of progressive, good governmental values. The integrity of our county, one with high moral standards and a fair election system, should not be compromised.” 

To learn more about Evan Glass and his campaign visit www.EvanGlass.com



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