Wednesday, April 16, 2008

praisner, fennel head into district 4 special election

WHAT'S UP THE PIKE: County considers increase in energy tax; Live Nation talks to Silver Spring, Singular about the Fillmore.

Don Praisner, seen at the IHOP in Calverton, won the Democratic nomination for the County Council seat opened by his wife Marilyn's death two months ago.

With a turnout of just over eleven percent, District 4 voters nominated Democrat Don Praisner and Republican Mark D. Fennel to run in the special election for the open County Council seat May 13. Praisner, widower of recently passed Councilmember Marilyn Praisner, garnered 3288 votes, according to the County Board of Elections. School Board President Nancy Navarro was not far behind with 2940 votes, while advocate Steve Kanstoroom and consultant Pat Ryan trailed them both.

With MoCo political gadfly Robin Ficker as campaign manager, Fennel's aggressive sign-deployment and promises to lower property taxes earned him the favor of Republican voters. The Aspen Hill resident beat Calverton real estate broker John McKinnis, with 898 votes to McKinnis's 771. Meanwhile, Spencerville's Robert Patton won 114 votes, while IT specialist Thomas Hardman, also of Aspen Hill, earned 96 votes.

As Marilyn's legacy hung over their heads, front-runners Praisner and Navarro waged an often-bitter campaign, made worse by allegations that School Superintendent Jerry Weast privately met with prominent unions to endorse Navarro, crippling her credibility. Adam Pagnucco from Maryland Politics Watch pointed out yesterday that a low turnout more or less ensured Praisner's victory, despite Navarro's larger campaign budget. District 4's two gigantic retirement communities - Leisure World in Aspen Hill and Riderwood Village in Calverton - guaranteed the 75-year-old Don a massive base of senior citizens, known to be the most hardcore of voters.

On top of that, he enjoyed strong name recognition from his wife, who sat on the Council for seventeen years and had been active in the Calverton community since moving there four decades ago. Praisner also had the support of County Executive Ike Leggett and four councilmembers eager to have a fifth vote for slower growth when the Council tackles its Annual Growth Policy this summer.


Thomas Hardman said...

I appear to have earned the dubious distinction of being Montgomery District 4's least popular political candidate.

Then again, I didn't expect to win, there are only a limited number of intelligentsia to vote for me. ;) On the other hand, I might have set a new record low for "votes per dollar spent campaigning".

Don Praisner == shoo-in.

Better him than Nancy Navarro, though.

Still, the ink is barely dry on the tally sheet, and the County Council is already raising taxes rather than work for efficiency or cutting useless programs like CASA de Maryland.

Thomas Hardman said...

Heh, I mis-stated something.

$100 out-of-pocket campaign funding... 96 votes. Dollar a vote. Guess I had best start saving up for next time. ;)

Anonymous said...

A jubilant Fennel was out thanking voters at 6:30a.m. at the Glenmont Metro this morning. He had a six-foot long Thank You sign with him. Mark, 42, has the energy of a man ten year younger. Unlike his opponent, Don Praisner, Mark is not running as a lame duck to keep the seat warm. He has fire in his belly. Praisner told JustUpThePike that he would just a soon be playing golf with his daughter in Hawaii as serving on the Montgomery County Council.

Fennel says that in a recession, with $4 gas and our 401k's tanking, after increases in state income, sales, car and corporate taxes and hikes in water, Metro and electricity bills, with foreclosures booming, we cannot afford the biggest property tax increase in 20 years. Nor can we afford the shell game where we replace some of the new property taxes with energy taxes.

Mark hs a lovely, smart, bi-lingual wife who was a legal immigrant from Central America. They have a seven month old son, "not so silent" Cal. Mark has the future of ALL Montgomery citizens at heart, not just for two years, but beyond.

Anonymous said...

Mark Fennel's wife
Estella is his campaign manager. Have you ever met her?

Anonymous said...

Too bad that Pat Ryan finished last amoung Democrats. I think that he was their best candiate.

Don Praisner can thank the seniors (himself included) for his win as senior citizens were the only voters who showed up at the polls.

retgroclk said...

Mr. Hardman-- I believe I hold the record for votes per dollar spent.

I spent $600 in the gubernatorial race in 2002, and received 110,00 plus votes.
I will agree though the amount of intelligentsia is few and far.

Keep in mind though- there are those who bitch and moan about the way things are and there are those who try to do something about the issues.

It is better to do- than to sit back and complain.

Anonymous said...

If the old folks in Leisure world are dicating this sham election, we are all doomed. I think he fooled them into thinking that he was he wife. I hope there will be normal age voters out there that will elect the better candidate, someone with the courage to stand up to the big employee unions and NIMBYs. WE need a candidate that will cut wastefull spending on RideON, social services, and public schools. Only Mark Fennel can do that. I'm voting for Mark Fennel for District 4!

Anonymous said...

mark Fennel is an expert on finding wste, mismanagement and inefficiency as a long-time employee of Citizens Against Government Waste. He graduated from Vassar College.

Anonymous said...

I knew people were running but when did we ever get a notice about the actual election? Is this third world now? I am depressed that I missed the election.


Anonymous said...

Hitler believed repetition resulted in beliefs held by the listener. It that why every time you mention Robin Ficker's name you say, "gadfly," and why you repeatedly call Ficker Fennel's campaign manager when he is not? You don't constantly attach modifiers to anybody else. Why just him?

Anonymous said...

Fennel is slower on growth than Praisner. And he is more protective of the environment.oxqir

Anonymous said...

We would be poorly served by a Councilmember who needs a coach, as Mark Fennel needed to guide his thoughts as he stammered through the candidate forums. This is not the high school debate club or an HOA. We are in the middle of a legislative term with ongoing business and we need a Councilmember who is capable of establishing themselves quickly and performing well in the job on their own.

I care mostly about how effective the person I send to represent me on the Council can be. In May I have to choose from two very different candidates who want the very serious job of representing me and my neighbors. One has many years of successful management experience and has been right in the middle of the real day to day business of running this municipality for 17 years. The other can't produce evidence that he's managed anything successfully, much less championed an ideological shift in a county government run by big spenders as he desperately wants to. There's no rare or specialized skill set needed to do this job, just effective management experience, people skills, and the real ability to advance the interests of their constituents at the County level, which one candidate has deomonstrated and the other lacks.

The question is which of these two candidates, each with their flaws, can I place my trust in and hire to do the job?

When you look at it from the practical angle, it's got to be the biggest no-brainer in the history of Earth.

scratching my head said...

You know, the last comment really has me scratching my head. How exactly has Don Praisner been "right in the middle of the real day to day business of running this municipality for 17 years"? Don is obviously going to win, but people are going to be surprised when they find out that he is not Marilyn and doesn't actually have any experience as a County Councilmember. Mike Knapp's wife is a bright and impressive woman but I wouldn't expect her to step into Mike's job tomorrow and know everything.

Anonymous said...

Let the votes speak for themselves on May 13th. Don Praisner will be elected. Mark Fennel will still be wondering what it's like to play a part in an elementary school PTA.

Anonymous said...

Nobody expects Don Praisner to walk into the Council and be Marilyn.

The fact is that Marilyn Praisner prepared and worked 7 days a week as councilmember for 17 years, and as school board member before that. Don was there with her through the hundreds of initiatives, budget cycles, community events and functions, etc. The business of the county became a part of his dinner table talk and daily life, and he saw what works and what doesn't. He has already heard firsthand what the citizens care about. In local government that is a huge advantage over anyone who might come in without the benefit of that experience, and there simply is noone else on the ballot who has ANY experience around the Council.

Anonymous said...

Fennel is a sure vote to stick to and not exceed the charteer property tax limit. He is opposed to Leggett's biggest proposed property tax increase in 20 years!

Praisner is a sure vote to exceed the charter property tax limit. We already have 8 people like that on the council. Praisner supports Leggett as a YES man and supports his proposed budget and the largest property tax increase in 20 years!

Thomas Hardman said...

I have to butt in here. Sorry I haven't been posting here, I have a busted hand and can't type quickly nor very well.

The problem here with this election is that the local Democrat party has a really huge talent pool from which to promote candidates. The local Republican party has a really much smaller pool from which to promote a candidate, and frankly most of the Republicans locally are too busy running their business to run for public office.

Probably the majority of the local Democrats are employed in the public sector, or are in about the same position as are academics; they can run for office without directly violating the Hatch Act or local equivalents so long as they don't use equipment or personnel from the workplace. They've got an immense support network built into the entire fabric of local governance and one heck of a lot of other organizations.

This completely outweighs and overshadows the fact that a lot of the local Democrats might be reasonably competent if however adhering to a political outlook that most Democrats in the nationwide party characterize as "fringe liberal" and most nationwide Republicans would likely characterize as "out of touch with reality".

The thing is that locally most Republicans are thought by most Democrats to be out of touch with reality, even if the only reality at all with which they are out of touch is the reality that if you're running as a Republican in Montgomery County, you are facing an almost impossible uphill struggle. You'd have to be golden in almost all aspects, not merely a saint, but a gifted one, with not only ideology and policy chops that would stagger Peter Jennings (may he rest in peace), but with world-class charisma and charm.

For a Democrat to be elected here, all they need to do is chant the party line. Whoever can chant it with the least deviation from the proclamations of the Central Committee, and who has the most friends, wins. It's that simple. And Mr Praisner has almost as many voters to call him their friend as had his late wife.

As for me, at least I had the decency to only read from a script on one occasion, and that was a fairly lengthy quote from Mr Gibbon. However, I am clearly not a graduate of any charm schools, nor likely to win popularity contests. Among other things, I have a regrettable tendency to tell the truth as I see it. Furthermore, that truth-as-I-see-it is pretty far from the Central Committee positions of either camp.

The work cut out for us in the years ahead is to keep the pressure on the Council to act responsibly, and to build our own base among those who think that the Council, in general, needs to be aware that their positions aren't guaranteed for life. If that means appealing to the more conservative Democrats, that is what must be done.

Anonymous said...

Don Praisner got 3400 out of 50,000+ Democratic votes while running on his wife's name and her record of 17 years on the council and more on the school board. That is a pitiful carry-over. I'd characterize it as a rejection. There is no legacy. There is a Leggett "Yes," man, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

The facts speak for themselves. Don Praisner WON the Democratic primary, and he did it without the union funding and backing that Ms. Navarro had. Hardly a rejection. A win is a win.

Mr. Fennel and his supporters are quick to point out that Mr. Praisner is an older gentleman, etc, etc., and have attacked him professionally and personally here and on other blogs. However, they have not said anything (despite folks having asked repeatedly) about Mr. Fennel's vision beyond the property tax issue. Mr. Fennel has yet to articulate a complete legislative agenda or a plan for accomplishing his goals in Rockville. It's almost like the tax ceiling vote will be the only thing he would do on the Council.

Thus far, Mr. Fennel has published nothing to show qualifications to do the job effectively. He has responded to being asked for his agenda and plan with smears against his opponent, never addressing the question directly.

As a homeowner, parent, taxpayer, and District 4 resident who makes decisions based on facts and information, I have seen nothing to show me that Mr. Fennel is capable of turning his ideas into results on the Council.

Anonymous said...

Praisner is ducking Channel 21's debate 5/5/08. Why? Montgomery County's educated electorate deserves a chance to compare the candidates.

Anonymous said...

Praisner has a 3 1/2 inch cut on his head. He recently appeared in a News Channel 8 interview with a huge bandage on his head. How did he fall and hurt himself so badly?

Thomas Hardman said...

I saw Mr Praisner yesterday, and spoke with him briefly. I came to shake his hand and to congratulate him on his victory in his party's primary election.

He did in fact have what looked almost like a surgical incision dead-center of his forehead. It was perfectly straight, and about 2.25 inches long, oriented diagnonally. Yet when I spoke to him, he did not seem particularly disoriented, and he was gracious enough to not have me tossed out of the establishment. Me being a Republican and all, dontcha know.

If this mark on his forehead was the result of some accident, this must have occurred some days ago, or if more recent it must have been pretty superficial, the sort of thing you might get if you ran into a branch walking through a thicket. I can't think of any sort of surgery that would leave that exact scar, and if this scar was the result of surgery of some kind, there were no visible retractor marks nor signs of stretching, all of which would require considerable time to heal in a man of Mr Praisner's age.

If this was the result of any kind of violence directed at an old man and one recently bereaved, that falls into the class of despicable.

Okay: this election isn't finished yet. But I don't think that Montgomery County District 4 needs cheap shots and smear tactics. We need fresh ideas and democracy itself demands that one-party government be resisted, whether that one party is the Republicans or the Democrats, or the Communists or Fascists.

Let's keep it clean.

Anonymous said...

Melanoma is often fatal. Praisner, who was recently hospitalized for days should tell us what it is.