November 2018: An Important Upcoming Election
By Sharon L. Cohen
Yes, that’s right – there’s no typo in the headline. The November 2018 election is indeed a very important election for Montgomery County’s elected offices. Two key changes impacting county-level elections will come into play in 2018: public election funding and term limits.
Montgomery County’s new Public Election Fund (PEF) program – a pot of $6 million dollars at this time – will be made available for the first time to qualifying candidates running for county offices in the 2018 election. Those funds could go a long way to helping candidates run and win.
Additionally, assuming that the 2016 “term limit” ballot initiative is successful, there will be 6 open elected seats for county offices in the 2018 election – that’s a majority of elected county positions. It goes without saying that 2018 will be an extraordinary opportunity for willing GOP candidates seeking elective office in Montgomery County, but the time to get going is NOW, well BEFORE the 2016 elections!
Why the rush?
Candidates for county office in 2018 may seek matching PEF funds, but the qualifying contributions must be raised NOW, and that why there’s a rush. Actually, by next July (2017) the county will determine if sufficient PEF funds are available based on how many candidates have qualified for PEF funds. PEF funds will be dispersed to qualifying candidates as early as late June (2017).
Candidates who qualify between now and this time next summer have the best shot at receiving the largest potential payout. While PEF candidates may continue to raise funds after July 2017, one may or may not receive the max payout, depending on what’s left in the pot.
For example, a qualifying PEF candidate for a County Council seat may receive up to $125,000 for the primary and another $125,000 for the general. For an At-Large County Council seat, the amount is up to $250K and for County Executive the amount is up to $750K (primary and general).
The catch is that a candidate must qualify.
Qualification is a three-part test. First, the election must be contested. Second, for each of the county elected categories, candidates must raise qualifying campaign contributions between $5 and $150 from a specific number of county residents. Third, candidates who qualify to receive matching PEF funds must also raise aggregate campaign contribution targets. These thresholds are noted below:
- 500 qualifying contributions ($5 and $150)/ An aggregate total of $40,000
County At-Large Seats
- 250 qualifying contributions ($5 and $150) / An aggregate total of $20,000
County District Councilmember Seats
- 125 qualifying contributions (5 and $150) / An aggregate total of $10,000
Candidates seeking PEF funds must agree to comply with a variety of campaign contribution limitations, such as NOT any accepting campaign contributions over $150; NOT accepting contributions from any group or organization, PACs, corporations, unions, or from a state or local political central committee; and there are other limitations.
As you can see, the upcoming 2018 election is an important one, indeed. So let’s get the term limit petition initiative done and, then, passed in 2016 so that a majority of elected county offices are open seats in 2018.
And as a reminder to candidates, now is the time to start thinking about running and qualifying for 2018 PEF funds!
Sharon Cohen is a Montgomery County GOP Central Committee member and a member of the Legislative District 15 GOP Executive Committee. She is also one of two Republican members on Montgomery County’s “Committee to Recommend Funding for Public Election Fund.”