Image by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly licensed under Creative Commons.

There are a lot of really important electoral races in 2018, especially in Maryland. We'd like to make sure voters can find out what candidates are best on urbanist issues. Can you help?

A lot is at stake

Maryland will elect (or re-elect) a governor in 2018, who has enormous powers over transportation. The Maryland governor can in essence choose how to spend transportation money, and what projects to do, entirely on his or her own. The General Assembly–all of the state senators and representatives–also stand for election.

The County Executive seat is open in Montgomery County. Due to the new term limits, so are three of the four at-large seats on the County Council and the District 1 seat, which includes Bethesda and Potomac. There's also a challenger to incumbent Sidney Katz in District 3 (Rockville/Gaithersburg). Prince George's County Executive and five of its nine councilmembers are term-limited, creating open seats. There are also two new at-large seats created by a 2016 voter referendum. The county executives and county councils set transportation priorities, but their greatest power is in land use, where they make the policies around how and where their counties grow. 

In the District, there are already three challengers to Ward 1 councilmember Brianne Nadeau and one to at-large councilmember Anita Bonds. Mayor Muriel Bowser and three more ward councilmembers are also up for re-nomination in the Democratic primary and another (Elissa Silverman) just in the general, and challengers may emerge for any of these. 

Arlington's John Vihstadt (I) will face the voters for re-election to the county board, as will the Alexandria City Council. Several Virginia Congressional races may prove to be pivotal as well. Virginia's county and city officials set land use policy, transportation and spending priorities, often serve on the Metro board, and much more.

I just named over 20 pivotal offices up for election without even mentioning attorneys general, school board, and other races which are very important but less directly related to urbanism.

We want to make our political coverage and endorsements even greater

Greater Greater Washington has often published articles about candidates for office, and made endorsements. (Since we are a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, we can do that!) We're pretty proud of the endorsements we've made (in most cases) and times we've been able to steer urbanist voters toward the best candidates and the ones who can beat bad-on-urbanism competitors.

In our current process, we poll our core contributors and then our Editorial Board makes a decision. We've written articles about races and candidates where we could, but it's been very dependent on contributor interest. In 2018, we'd like to increase the amount of election coverage and have a more structured, deliberative, and inclusive process for determining endorsements. 

We're creating a dedicated group, the Elections Committee, to make these decisions and drive coverage. Some other great sites that do endorsements, like Seattle's The Urbanist, have a similar board of folks who want to take the time to really delve into the races, meet the candidates, etc.

Join our Elections Committee!

Have you been reading the above and saying, "I really want this to happen! Can I be a part of it?" If so, the answer may well be yes!

You can fill out this application form to let us know your interest. Our staff and another group of volunteers will review the applications. Please apply by October 20. The committee appointments will be formally approved by the Board of Directors in December and the term will start in January.

You also probably want to know what's expected of you! Here's what we ask of all the members:

  • Participate in a kick-off and blog training event in early January
  • Join on biweekly conference calls throughout the year
  • Write at least one blog article per month about primary races in February through June
  • Write at least one more blog post for the general election (likely in September or October)
  • If you decide to write candidate profiles, meet with candidates for those posts
  • Participate in 2-3 in-person meetings in your county to possibly interview candidates and to decide endorsements, likely in May

Members of the Elections Committee also must:

  • Live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia (and we'll look for a mix for the committee)
  • Not serve in or run for an executive or legislative office in 2018 (DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission is okay)
  • Not make public endorsements, donate to campaigns, volunteer, or work for candidates in any of the races we'll be endorsing in (knock yourself out on Congress outside the region, for instance) until after our endorsements come out (and then, feel free)
  • Not work at a job where doing this stuff is illegal, against your employer's policies, or would imperil your employer's tax status in any way

It's a plus for people to have some experience with politics (volunteering, working, writing, advocating, etc.) and to reflect the diversity of our region.

Does all that sound good? Then apply for our committee today (and definitely before October 20)!

Questions? Post them in the comments or email me.

Correction: The initial version of this post incorrectly listed David Grosso rather than Elissa Silverman as the independent up for re-election in 2018.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.