With two aldermen not running for re-election this year, the city’s Democratic Party leaders see opportunity.
Alderwoman Kim Brumley, C-3rd Ward, and Alderman Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward, have decided not to run for re-election, opening the field for Democratic candidates.
The Democratic Party has two voices on the Common Council — if you count Mayor Ann Thane. Bill Wills of the 4th Ward is the only Democratic alderman.
“It’s a lot easier to challenge an open seat,” city Democratic Committee Chairwoman Bethany Schumann-McGhee said.
Political hopefuls have begun to circulate petitions for various elected positions throughout Montgomery County. The petitions are due in mid-July.
Political affiliation is not at the heart of every decision made by elected officials in the city, however. Schumann-McGhee agreed that, at the local level, party politics doesn’t play the same role it does in, say, the state Legislature. Local politicians tend to align themselves more by issue or constituent concerns, she said.
Schumann-McGhee said the potential candidates on the Democratic ticket will offer a fresh perspective on the city and will be concerned with “regional views,” or attracting people into the city.
Potential candidates like Robin Raciborski — who owns a real estate firm in the city and is running for 2nd Ward alderman — are a good example, Schumann-McGhee said.
“Who better to know firsthand about the decisions people make when wanting to buy property in the city,” Schumann-McGhee said. “She knows whether it’s amenities like parks and good schools or low taxes that attract buyers. She has a phenomenal perspective of what an outsider’s view of the city is.”
Wills, who has served as the lone Democrat on the Common Council for at least the last four years, said it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference to have more Democrats on the council because party politics doesn’t play a big role in the city.
“You usually can’t tell who is a Republican or a Democrat until we run for office and then we align ourselves with our particular party,” he said.
Wills said those circulating petitions from the Democratic Committee are all relatively new to politics, which could work out in their favor if they leave a good first impression on the voters, especially those voters who are looking for a change.
Schumann-McGhee said that same tendency — for voters to look at the experience and voting records of the two Republicans circulating petitions in the 3rd Ward — might help the Democratic 3rd Ward candidate. Ronald Wierzbicki is circulating Democratic petitions; former Corporation Counsel and City Court Judge Robert Going and current Greater Amsterdam Board of Education President Gina DeRossi are circulating petitions as Republicans.