Montgomery County has outgrown its County Council. It is time to realign the Council so all residents regardless of where they live have a representative on the County Council.
The current County Council is comprised of five district representatives and four at-large representatives. This may have been a reasonable structure in 1990 when the population was some 700,000 residents concentrated down county. Since then, our population has grown to more than 1.1 million residents and most of that growth has been in the up county population.
- Today 7 of 9 Council members live south and east of North Bethesda The result? County legislative decisions are made by representatives from a small area called the “down county crescent” that largely includes Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
- That means decisions about your public services, transportation, housing, development, and taxes are made by Council members from an area with only 30% of county population!
- Increasing the number of Council districts to nine, and abolishing the at large seats, will guarantee smaller districts, more responsive representation, and an avenue for your voice to be heard.
- Why now? District boundaries drawn after the 2020 Census will be in place for ten years. Now is the time to demand nine compact districts. All residents deserve a district representative on the Montgomery County Council.
About Nine Districts For MoCo
Nine Districts for MoCo is a non-partisan ballot committee formed by Montgomery County residents concerned that the outdated structure of the County Council is denying fair and equitable representation to all residents of the county. The committee was established in 2019 to place a citizens charter amendment on the November 3, 2020 General Election ballot so voters can decide on the structure of their County Council.
The proposed charter amendment amends the County Charter to require each of the Council’s nine members to be elected from a Council district where he or she resides. After the 2020 Census, nine new Council districts will be drawn based on demographic data.
To place the Nine Districts charter amendment on the November ballot, at least 10,000 registered Montgomery County, MD voters must sign the petition as required by the Board of Elections. The Nine Districts for MoCo committee is responsible for collecting signatures and submitting them to the Montgomery County Board of Elections by July 27, 2020.
Reform the County Council so all areas of the county
can elect their own representative to the Council
Why Nine Districts?
It is the legislative body of the county government that allocates an annual budget of some $5.8 billion. The Council makes decisions on public services, transportation, housing, zoning and impose taxes and regulations. They have oversight on planning and education decisions. Since 1990 the Council has consisted of nine members – five elected from Council districts and four elected at-large. It was a reasonable structure 30 years ago but Montgomery County is significantly different today.
What is the Problem?
The current structure of five Council districts and four at-large members does not allow for fair and equitable representation on the Council for residents living in all areas of the county. Today the county’s population is more than 1.1 million residents with 70 percent of them living north of I-495. Yet because of large, gerrymandered districts and at-large members, 7 of the Council’s 9 members live “down county” (the purple area on the map to the right) where only 30 percent of residents live. There are only two Council districts located entirely north of Rockville.
Large Council districts that span large areas across the county makes it difficult for residents to be heard by their Council member. Each Council district has more than 200,000 residents. Look at the current Council district map below. If you live in Bethesda in District 1 you are in the same Council district with those living way up county in Poolsville.
At-large members are called upon to represent all 1.1 million residents, more constituents than any Maryland Congressional district, which have some 750,000 residents. No we do NOT need more Council members, that is a waste of our tax dollars. The solution in is to maintain a total of 9 Council members but just make each represent a smaller and more compact district!
What difference will Nine Districts make?
Increasing the number of Council districts to nine and abolishing the at-large seats will guarantee smaller compact districts, more responsive representation, and the opportunity for all county residents to elect a representative from their community.
New District boundaries will be drawn after the 2020 Census and will be in place for 10 years. Now is the time to decide on nine compact districts. All residents deserve a district representative on the Montgomery County Council.
The Charter Changes Sought by Nine Districts for Moco
Article 1. Legislative Branch.
Sec. 102. Composition and Election. The Council shall be composed of nine members, each of whom shall be a qualified voter of Montgomery County.
Sec. 103. Council Districts. Montgomery County shall be divided into
Thank You For Your Support!
We want to thank each and every one of the more than 16,000 Montgomery County voters who signed the petition to place our referendum on the November ballot. We will be submitting them to the Board of Elections on August 3.
Everyone's Next Steps
Volunteer Sign up to be present at early voting sites.
Engage Host Zoom meetings, hand out referendum materials. Nine Districts committee members are available to participate.
Get Your Absentee Ballot If you will be voting using an absentee ballot, submit your request to get that ballot now (link).
Register to Vote Ensure you are registered to vote, and register if you haven't yet done so (link).
Donate Send in a donation of $9 or more to the Nine Districts effort (link).
Boundaries for current County Council districts and their representatives' residences
Nine Districts for MoCo is a non-partisan grassroots volunteer movement that must collect 10,000 valid signatures from Montgomery County registered voters in order to place the charter amendment on the November 2020 ballot so the people can decide.
We were off to a good start when COVID-19 hit. Our signature collection activity is now limited by the constraints of social distancing.
We must use our website, social media, and other advertising to urge voters to sign the petition. We cannot do it without your financial support. Please consider donating today!
Your donation will support our efforts to collect signatures. Your donation will help us:
- Launch a major social media advertising campaign to urge voters to sign the petition online
- Advertise on social media and the radio
- Help with phone banking or other call efforts
- Purchase and distribute signs and materials for the effort
- Launch a mail campaign
Nine Districts for MoCo is a nonpartisan ballot committee registered as a 527 entity with the Maryland Board of Elections. Donations are not tax deductible.
Kimblyn Persaud, Chair
Kimblyn Persaud has lived in Montgomery County for more than twenty-five years, with 16 of those years in Wheaton. She lives by the motto "The service we render others is the rent we pay for our room on earth"—Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, Missionary Medical Doctor.
This belief and focus on community has led her to numerous volunteer opportunities and community leadership roles. She has served the Wheaton community as President of the Wheaton Regional Park Neighborhood Association, and Co-founder of Save the Wheaton Library, and Co-founder of the Wheaton Coalition. She was a member of The League of Women Voters, the Zoning Advisory Panel as a Community Representative, and the Junior League of Washington, DC. She's currently a member of the Women's Democratic Club and Chair of the non-partisan ballot initiative Nine Districts for MoCo.
As a community activist living in an underserved immigrant community, Kim Persaud has had a front row seat on how laws passed by the County Council have negatively affected everyone's quality of life. She has witnessed how overcrowded housing leads to rat and roach infestation for a whole community and how unsafe living conditions and illegal parking spill over to unsafe streets. She realized that these concerns were falling on deaf ears which lead her to work on the Term Limits ballot initiative, which passed overwhelmingly in 2016.
In 2019, Kim was told that in order to get the traffic control, HAWK beacon at Georgia Avenue. and Price Street. in Downtown Wheaton, it would require the installation of a 6ft black fence similar to many going up in low income, immigrant communities. The community had not been told of this decision or been asked for input, and the State and the County officials weren't interested in the community's feelings or opinions. Yet, down the road in downtown Silver Spring, the Park and Planning, State Highway Administration, Montgomery County Department of Transportation officials and their architects were actively engaging that community in decisions to put up attractive and safe pedestrian barriers. This is what it looks like, to be told you don't count!
Knowing what it's like to not have a seat at the table is what drove Kim Persaud to Chair Nine Districts for MoCo, a non-partisan effort to create nine smaller Council districts, giving everyone in Montgomery County an opportunity to be heard and to hold their Council member accountable, regardless of the zip code you live in.
Contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Lautman, Treasurer
Mark Lautman moved to Montgomery County in 1998, and has been working in the region's high-tech industry since that time. Like many local high-tech workers, he knows that there are precious few jobs in Montgomery County in general and in high-tech in particular, so he is one of tens of thousands of workers who daily finds employment in DC or Northern Virginia. To get to those jobs, he and his fellow long-distance commuters travel one hour each way (for those living in down county), and two hours each way (for those living in Germantown, Clarksburg, Olney, and points north).
Mark started his journey toward local politics about two years ago when Loudoun County in Northern Virginia proposed constructing a second Potomac River Crossing that would extend into Montgomery County. The County Council's reaction was swift and unanimous: nope. Mark wrote to every council member asking them to reconsider, and received a response from the council's then-president that MoCo's vision stipulates that the state government should expand the American Legion Bridge. Even though MoCo could build a second Potomac River crossing entirely within its jurisdiction, reduce the commute times to places where there are jobs (because there are no jobs in MoCo), relieve the stress and tension that 200,000 drivers feel daily as they cross the bridge and crawl up the I-270, and reduce the concomitant pollution, the council unanimously believed (and still believes) that they have no responsibility for the commuters' welfare beyond deflecting requests to Annapolis.
That's when Mark realized that something is terribly wrong in MoCo. People living inside the down-county crescent have Metro, the Purple Line, the high-capacity highways, and alternative routes. The high-tech commuters (and anyone living north of the crescent) have no-one on the County Council taking an interest in their welfare. The council and our county executives have spent decades fostering a policy of no jobs and precious few ways to get where the jobs are. That may be a fine arrangement for some, but surely the 70% of Montgomery County residents who live outside of the down-county crescent, and who are severely impacted by these policies, should be able to elect Council members who understand their concerns and represent them.
Working on the nonpartisan Nine Districts ballot charter amendment has been very rewarding for Mark. Its steering committee is comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and the unaffiliated. They all place their differences aside to focus on this one goal for fair representation that serves every single resident's interest, regardless of party affiliation, demographic, or home address.
"The best days," says Mark, "are when I'm out collecting signatures for our petition, and someone says, 'Thank you for doing this.'"
Contact Mark at email@example.com.