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MoCo's District 4 Field is Official

With the passage of yesterday's filing deadline at the Montgomery County Board of Elections, the field of candidates vying to replace the late Council member Marilyn Praisner is now official. Four Republicans and four Democrats will compete to represent the Eastern county in the April 15 primaries, with the winners going on to the May 13 general election.

On the GOP side, the candidates are: marketing analyst Mark D. Fennel; IT developer Thomas Hardman; former state delegate candidate John McKinnis; and athletic fields specialist Robert Patton.

On the Democratic side: civic activist Steve Kanstoroom; school board president Nancy Navarro; the widower of the late council member Don Praisner; and federal government consultant Pat Ryan.

Before the election, candidates will face-off in a series of back-to-back forums, including the League of Women Voters event at 7 p.m. on April 8 at the Sandy Spring Friends School, Performing Arts Center.

By Ann Marimow  |  March 25, 2008; 1:12 PM ET
Categories:  Ann Marimow  
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Silver Spring, MD - Mark D. Fennel has announced his candidacy to run for Montgomery County Council in District 4 in the up-coming special election. A life-long resident of Montgomery County, Mark Fennel lives in Silver Spring with his wife Estela, who immigrated to the United States from Honduras, and their 7th month old son Caleb, who was born at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. Mark Fennel graduated from Walter Johnson High School in 1984 and holds a B.A. in political science from Vassar College.

A writer and marketing analyst, Mark Fennel is the long-time Director of Membership for Citizens Against Government Waste, a nationally known, non-profit organization that exposed the infamous, "Bridge to Nowhere," and other notorious earmarks. Previously, Mark Fennel worked for four years in the development department of The Heritage Foundation following a stint in the private sector.

When Mark Fennel launched his previous campaign for County Council in District 4, he was quoted in The Gazette as saying, "This year [FY06] the budget has ballooned to an incredible $3.5 billion, and there is talk of a $4 billion budget. . .For the future prosperity or Montgomery County and its residents, it's critical that an austerity program be put in place to curtail this vicious pattern of unrestrained and unsustainable spending" ("GOP newcomer making bid for County Council," Dec. 14, 2005).

On Oct. 9, 2006 shortly before the election, Montgomery Community Television videotaped Mark Fennel saying, "Tragically, Montgomery County is facing a financial crisis. During the first eight months of 2006, we've seen a $300 million falloff in transfer and recordation taxes; a new federal law requires $200 million to pre-fund some county employee benefits; the county employees' retirement system is $674 million in deficit; and, we're facing a $67 million shortfall in facility maintenance. All the while, the council irresponsibly went on an election year spending spree."

Today, Montgomery County is facing a $300 million budget deficit and the threat of higher property taxes is looming on the horizon. Having just received increases in Maryland state computer, sales, income, car and corporate taxes, it appears the County Council is preparing to override the county's charter property tax limit which will cause hundreds more foreclosures especially for minority families, and price thousands more out of the county housing market. Under this dire background, according to the February 14, 2008 edition of the Montgomery County Sentinel, Council President Mike Knapp inexplicably said, "Right now we're looking back to see how committees were structured 15 or 20 years ago and seeing if we even need an Management and Fiscal Policy committee."

Mark Fennel has pledged not to support an override of the county's Charter Amendment, because the Charter Amendment was put in place to protect families from unfair tax increases. According to Mark Fennel, "The solution to this budget crisis, is to go through Montgomery County's budget with a fine tooth comb and root out waste, mismanagement and inefficiency while slowing the rate of growth of Montgomery County's budget." This is a task Mark Fennel is well prepared to handle, because he's been working on this issue for many years at Citizens Against Government Waste. Mark Fennel went on to say, "an integral part of reigning in over-the-top spending and the associated high level of taxation to support it, is to end the decades old symbiotic relationship between special interests and the County Council, where the County Council and special interests win, and Montgomery County families lose."

Posted by: VoteFennel4CountyCouncil | March 25, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Vote for Mark Fennel for County Council and Property Tax Relief. The County Executive has just issued a new budget which exceeds the charter property tax limit, giving us the largest property tax increase in 20 years! This even after the County Executive's $30,000 taxpayer paid poll shows only 7% of Montgomery Countians support raising taxes to improve services. This after increases in income, computer, sales, car and corporate taxes and hikes in Metro, water and electricity fees with $4 gas and tanking 401k's in a recession!

Fear not, dear voter; for, help is on the way! Mark Fennel has committed to stick to the charter property tax limit while in office and he supports our November ballot question to require 9 council votes instead of only 7 to exceed the charter property tax limit. Thus, when Mark Fennel is elected and the ballot question passes, Mark will be able to block that property tax increases that County Executive Leggett and Council President have planned for the next two years after this year.

Fennel is a life long resident of Montgomery County, having graduated from Walter Johnson high and Vassar College. He is a long time employee of the national non-profit, Citizens Against Government Waste. He is married to Estella Fennel, a bi-lingual immigrant from Central America. They have a six month old son, not-so-silent Cal, and thus have the county's future at heart.

Vote for Mark Fennel for County Council and Property Tax Relief!

Posted by: Robin Ficker, Broker Robin Realty | March 25, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

...has this blog covered to a T

Posted by: Mark Fennel... | March 25, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Steve Kanstoroom has the longest history of involvement with the Montgomery County Civic Federation of any of the candidates. Vote for Steve on April 15!

Plus any suggestion that 76 year old Don Praisner is an Ike Leggett "Yes" man is untrue. Praisner, even with his hearing aid, cannot hear well enough to know what Ike Leggett tells him.

Posted by: Kanstoroom is best! | March 25, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Folks. . .I did not post ". . .has this blog posted to a T." Please post in your own name. Thanks all.

Mark D. Fennel

Posted by: VoteFennel4CountyCouncil | March 25, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Why has Don Praisner refused to return the calls made to him by the Just Up the Pike Blog which is interviewing all the other candidates? Is he worried about questions that might be asked for which he does not have answers written for Him. The other candidates have responded.

Posted by: Why is Don Praisner Hiding? | March 25, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

It is such a chore to have to deal with this special election for the Democratic County Executive and the all Democratic County Council. They are perplexed as to what to do. They hadn't counted on having to defend their record of screwing the public and giving special preference to their cronies until 2010 when they could go on an election year spending spree as they did in 2006--budget up 14.6%. Now, they want to act like big spenders, but they don't have the money---unless they raise taxes, which looks bad in a recession

They don't want to comment here. Because everyone will see that their are two sides to every question, not just their side.

Posted by: Democratic Council Silence | March 26, 2008 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Whoever posted supporting Kanstoroom (likely himself) reveals that he is hateful and insensitive to persons with disabilities by that silly comment about Don Praisner's hearing aid. Shame on you!

Kanstoroom also has some explaining to do. He says on his website,, "Steve Kanstoroom is a resident of Talbot County Maryland." Yet on his campaign website, he says he is a "A lifetime [Montgomery] County resident." Which is it, Steve? We don't need people who are deceitful on the County Council.

Posted by: mococivic | March 27, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

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