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Praisner's widower considers running in MoCo's District 4

Don Praisner, the widower of the late Montgomery County Council member Marilyn Praisner, said this afternoon that he is considering running for her District 4 seat.

Praisner said he would either file as a candidate or get behind someone who could continue his wife's legacy representing the eastern part of the county.

"I will do one or the other, definitely," he said in an interview. "My initial thought was as long as we get someone qualified, that would be the way to go."

But, he said, "I started thinking more about who that person should be and that is what I'm doing right now."

Praisner retired from the CIA in the early 1990s and is involved in several community non-profits. His wife - a fiscal expert and 17-year member of the council - died on Feb. 1 after undergoing heart surgery.

District 4 residents will vote in primary elections on April 15 and a general election on May 13. Candidates for the special election must file by March 24.

By Ann Marimow  |  February 25, 2008; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow  
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Don should get behind a candidate already in the race, who would continue the legacy of Marilyn Praisner, Mark Fennel. Mark is the only candidate who showed any interest in the seat before Marilyn's untimely death---he ran for the seat in the 2006 elections. Mark is a slow growth, anti-ICC candidate. Mark Fennel is a fiscal watchdog, being a long-time employee of the national non-profit, Citizens Against Government Waste. Mark has lived his life in Montgomery County, graduating from Walter Johnson High School. His mother reminds me somewhat of Marilyn Praisner. Mark Fennel is pro education---how can you graduate from Vassar and not be? Mark Fennel also provides a new dimension--he is married to, and parents with, a young lady immigrant from Central America. The Fennel family certainly relates to the important Latino population. I can't think of anybody who would have more energy and ability to carry on the legacy of Marilyn Praisner in an independent, non-political, stand-up-for-the-citizens way!

Posted by: Robin Ficker Broker Robin Realty | February 25, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Just what we need, someone arguing for more traffic on 198/28, on Randolph Road, on Georgia Ave and on Muncaster Mill, etc. The ICC is being built. It should be built. It needs to be built. If anything, he should support the highway since it cuts so much through his and my district. At least the rest sounds good, but I'm sick of the fight over this road and I'm glad it's being built.

Posted by: Oh Come On | February 25, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh may, dynastic succession. I thought only the Kennedys, Bushes and Clintons thought so highly of themselves!

Posted by: lovinliberty | February 25, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I think our current council is going for a Bush-like legacy:

"No Dollar Left Unspent"

Posted by: Ombudsman | February 25, 2008 6:56 PM | Report abuse

it's time for a change in District 4. We are the dump of the county- no jobs - no economic development.

Posted by: dixie_diaz | February 25, 2008 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. Ficker. Though I don't agree with some of the candidate's positions, Mr. Praisner, with all due respect, does not add anything to the race.

Of course, Ombudsman is back to his daily (yawn) Bush-bashing. Maybe he should run for Ms. Praisner's seat. It will give him something to do with all that free time he has.

Posted by: In Harms Way | February 25, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I can't think of a better way to honor the work of Marilyn than to elect her husband as her replacement.

If Don gets in the race, he has my support.

Posted by: Praisner Fan -- Both of Them | February 25, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Marilyn's untimely passing left a gaping hole in the scales of power in Montgomery County, and anyone with any sense would agree with me when I say that we will all mourn her loss. I think that it would be fitting for Don Praisner to carry on her legacy.

But that being said, Montgomery County needs more than a stop-gap council member to get us through the interim. We need a leader that will maintain Marilyn's vision, without succumbing to the pressures of developers with deep pockets. Personally, I think that the best "fit" for such a candidate would have to come from the civic-activist community.

Out of that pool of potential, two viable candidates have surfaced thus far: Pat Ryan and Cary Lamari. Ryan is an undeniably experienced candidate, is involved in church and homeless initiatives, as well as the co-chair of Action In Montgomery. Clearly, he's qualified to act as an elected official in the county, or at least will be some day.

However, I believe that Lamari is the stronger candidate. He ran in the 2006 at-large council election, has over 20 years of experience as a civic activist, has been a past president of both the Montgomery County Civic Federation and the Norbeck Citizens Association, a member of other civic organizations in the district, has won several community service awards, and has already been endorsed by former council-member Blair Ewing (according to his website If anyone other than Don can carry Marilyn's beliefs into the future, it would have to be a community activist like Lamari. Judging from his past dealings with Montgomery County, he'll clearly be an outspoken leader who won't give in to the pressures of big business at the expense of the citizenry.


Matthew Youssef,
Univ. of Baltimore School of Law
JD Candidate, Class of 2009

Posted by: Matthew | February 26, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting to see that somebody who is still in law school is telling us who is experienced in Montgomery County. Obviously, Democratic party leaders outside the 4th District, who are used to election-override choices for the many vacancies in the legislature, are having trouble "picking," somebody. Look for them soon to pass a bill to eliminate this "bothersome," special election. Although one point Matt makes is true. There are too many qualified people in Montgomery County to "stop-gap," anything.

Posted by: Experienced? Qualified? | February 27, 2008 4:11 AM | Report abuse

Constituent service was a huge part of Marilyn Praisner's service to District 4. What a shame it would be if BOE member Nancy Navarro succeeds in winning the District 4 council seat. Navarro never returned phone calls and blew off local school leaders, even when the calls and meetings were about business before the BOE that directly impacted our schools.

Don, I sure hope you run to keep your wife's legacy of constituent service alive and well for District 4. With Navarro in that seat, the residents of District 4 can kiss constituent service good-bye!!!

Posted by: Local School Activist | February 27, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Mrs. Praisner was a fine legislator but I don't think a candidate needs to carry forward her legacy. District 4 and the Council need a leader who will craft a new vision. Steve Kanstoroom, the first to enter into the race for the District 4 position, provides that leadership and vision. He has been an incredibly effective civic advocate for over two decades on issues ranging from domestic violence to the victims of FEMA's failures and, most recently, the dubious land-use practices by Park and Planning affecting the Sandy Spring Farm Road residents. Anybody following the press in the past years cannot have missed coverage of his advocacy efforts in the press and on television. His experience in solving bureaucratic problems at the federal, state and local government levels is beyond impressive. His candidacy is a boon for the residents of Distict 4.

Posted by: $400m deficit | February 28, 2008 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Don Praisner will be declaring his candidacy on Monday. My money is on him to win by a big margin.

Posted by: Willie B | February 29, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Many voters seem inclined to continue Mayilyn Praisner's "legacy". That is not the best course for Montgomery County's future. Marilyn was a leading advocate for deploying large numbers of speed monitoring cameras. These devices are creating "crime" where none previously existed. They also increase the cost of driving in Montgomery County, yet offer no safety benefit. Even police officers use obscene gestures when being photographed by these cameras, and then refuse to pay the fines! It is interesting that on the last day of her driving career, Marilyn was involved in 2 accidents within 4 miles of each other, and she even managed to flip her vehicle. Did speed cameras make her a safer driver?
The citizens of Montgomery County deserve a level-headed council member, not someone who dwells on processes that make life more difficult! I will vote for the candidate who has the courage to repeal the speed camera program.

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