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The Race To Replace Phil Andrews In Montgomery County's District 3

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Tom Moore, Ryan Spiegel and Sidney Katz debate at Aspen Hill library on June 4, 2014.
Matt Bush/WAMU
Tom Moore, Ryan Spiegel and Sidney Katz debate at Aspen Hill library on June 4, 2014.

Come December, for the first time this century, Phil Andrews will not be the county councilman for District 3, which includes both Gaithersburg and Rockville. After four terms, he decided to run for county executive this year. Four Democrats are seeking to replace Andrews and three of them took to the Aspen Hill Library on Wednesday for a debate ahead of Democratic primary on June 24.

If he's the victorious one, for the first time this century, Sidney Katz will no longer be the mayor of Gaithersburg. Katz has been mayor since 1998, and until last year when he closed it, he owned Wolfson's Department Store in the city. Katz has been touting his business background on the campaign trail, saying he will push for changes to end Montgomery County's business-unfriendly reputation.

"I believe we should have an ombudsman. I believe if someone wants to be in business here, or expand a business here, or bring a business here, that there should be someone on the county council staff that they call," Katz said. "The bureaucracy... sometimes you figure it's not worth it to go through the bureaucracy and I'm not going to do whatever."

With a win, Tom Moore will have a short trip to the county council building, which sits across the street from Rockville City Hall where he serves as a city councilman. Moore received the endorsement from The Washington Post in part because of his focus on affordable housing.

"We want to build more of it. We have strong MPDU ordinance and we want to keep that strong. Secondly is to defend the affordable housing that we have. And that's something I've concentrated on in Rockville. And third is too look at new innovative ways to get affordable housing. Whether we shrink the size of the units or get more density," Moore said.

Gaithersburg City councilman Ryan Spiegel is endorsed by the county's teacher union. He says a report this year showing the widening student achievement gap in county schools is very concerning and he will act to reverse it.

"We need to make sure that we are putting incentives in place for the best teachers to go the schools that are most challenged," Spiegel said. "We need to make sure that we're putting in place parent outreach coordinators, particularly in immigrant communities and minority communities, where parents don't have the opportunities to be engaged in their kids education."

Grant-writer and business consultant Guled Kassim was unable to attend a debate last night at the Aspen Hill library, but on his website, the ex-Marine who came to the U.S. as a child from Somalia says he will tackle traffic congestion, environmental issues, and early childhood education programs if he's elected.

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