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February Newsletter, - Volume 8, Issue 3
In This Issue
President's Message
President's Message
By Fran Rothstein

I'm writing this just after our January luncheon with Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden. You can find a summary of her remarks later in this newsletter, but I came away with several encouraging thoughts.

We've been fortunate to hear so many thought-provoking speakers. Neera Tanden was especially impressive in this regard. WDC members and guests peppered her with question after question about diverse policy and political issues, and she was on top of every one.

Despite the awful events and uncivil tenor of the past year, she's hopeful because of the dramatic surge in individual political involvement. In particular, she emphasized the more than 11,000 Democratic women who are interested in running for office.

We all get tired. But, we can't stop doing the work necessary to win -- and win big -- in 2018. Tanden reminded us that governors and state legislators elected in 2018 will hold sway over the once-in-a-decade redistricting, which will shape our politics and our nation for the next 10 years.

WDC members have lots of ways to do the work:  
  • Learn the issues.  Get to know your candidates. Show up at candidate forums. Check your inbox this month for a quick email survey about WDC's upcoming County Executive and Gubernatorial Candidate Forums. The Forum Committee wants to know what issues you'd like candidates to address during the sessions. It will take less than five minutes of your time.  
  • Pick a candidate, or two or three, and volunteer to get them elected.  We have a wealth of well-qualified candidates here in Montgomery County, and at the State level, who need your help.
  • Join with our Advocacy Committee to weigh in on upcoming state legislative proposals -- the three-month legislative session is underway. Sign up for WDC's Advocacy Alerts, to make your voice heard.
  • Sign up with PACE (our Political Activism and Civic Engagement committee) to plot ways to have an impact within - and beyond our County and State. Give an hour, give a day, give a weekend to register voters, canvass door-to-door, or phone bank. It's easy, and it's fun. And, it makes a real difference.
  • Support your Party -- the County Dems, the State Dems, and the DNC. We are so lucky here in Montgomery County to have a vigorous County and State Party structure. Get involved!  
And, speaking of "doing the work" -  thanks to all the WDC members who made a call, mailed a postcard, or otherwise advocated for the County's first Safe Passage Center providing safe child exchange and supervised visitation for domestic violence victims and their children.  The Safe Passage Center officially opened January 19.  (See details later in this newsletter.)  Thanks also to County Executive Leggett and the Council for funding it, and special thanks to Laurie Duker and Court Watch Montgomery for relentlessly spearheading this life-saving initiative.  Well done, all!

A Word About WDC Luncheons

Our committee chairs work exceedingly hard to arrange luncheons such as those we've sponsored recently, with Chris Matthews, Senator Chris Van Hollen, and Neera Tanden. Please know that this is no easy task.  
After every event, people ask why our costs keep going up.  Here's why:
  • You've certainly noticed that food prices are higher than they were a year or two or three ago, whether in grocery stores, coffee shops, or restaurants.
  • Wages are higher too. WDC was proud to be part of the coalition supporting the $15 minimum wage - because it was the right thing to do - but higher luncheon prices are one result of that successful campaign.
  • We are fortunate that our regular venues have worked closely with us to hold the line on costs, but all have informed us that they will need to increase what they charge us in the coming months.
Our Board is considering alternatives to hotel luncheons.  But we need your input.  How would you feel about a box lunch in a community center with a speaker?  Or a wine-and-cheese reception with a speaker?  Or perhaps a series of smaller luncheons with high-quality but lower-profile speakers?  Our community education programs, such as our current series on development and the economy in Montgomery County, fill a niche since there is no charge for them.  But, WDC luncheons with speakers are a signature program of the Club, going back to the early days of its founding.  We are struggling to continue that tradition, while keeping the cost to attend within reason.

We plan to survey members on this and other issues within the next few months. Meanwhile, we are open to your ideas. Send your ideas to with "Luncheons" in the subject line.

Senator Chris Van Hollen On the Challenge of Today's Political Environment
Did you miss our December luncheon?  Senator Chris Van Hollen presented remarks to a sold-out audience on the challenge of today's political environment.  His keen analysis gave us new insights into the atmosphere on Capitol Hill, as well as a glimmer of hope for the future.  As chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he raised the possibility that we Democrats might retain and win back some important seats, and perhaps even take back the Senate.  Read Senator Chris Van Hollen On the Challenge of Today's Political Environment by Mary Lou Fox   here .
Neera Tanden Inspires Audience at January Luncheon
Neera Tanden Inspires Audience at January Luncheon
By Alison Bennett | Images by Joan Moyer FLICKR 

Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, delivered a spirited call to action at the well attended WDC luncheon January 18 at the Pooks Hill Marriott.

Ms. Tanden is a savvy Democratic Party advisor, valued campaign strategist, and in-demand guest on the talk show circuit. She served in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, as well as on Presidential campaigns.  Attendees appreciated her thoughtful insights on a variety of topics including voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the current president's impact on the Republican Party, as well as her strategies for the 2018 election and beyond.

WDC President Fran Rothstein introduced Ms. Tanden by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday had just passed: "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." Ms. Tanden and CAP are continuing Dr. King's work, providing the intellectual framework for Democrats to focus on all humanity.

Ms. Tanden said she is fundamentally optimistic about the incredible response she is seeing around the country. People are resisting and fighting back. Although the party in power is trying to overwhelm the opposition, Ms. Tanden  has been encouraged not just by Democratic leaders, but also by people who have never before been engaged and are now speaking up. Women are at the forefront of that movement. In fact, 84% of new activists are women. Ordinary citizens are doing things they've never done before - knocking on neighbors' doors, speaking up in Annapolis, and calling their representatives to express their opinions. "This country is for all of us," Ms. Tanden asserted. "We are asking who we are as Americans," and we are all called "to stand up for our country and what we believe in." She cautioned us not to be beaten down or deterred.

The Q&A session following Ms. Tanden's initial remarks was lively and probing. In response to a question about the importance of strong messages from the Democratic Party, Ms. Tanden said that messaging is a critical issue for the Party, and that we must act on our beliefs to communicate our values in the most persuasive way. She encouraged us to reach out to white non-college women and other groups who voted with the Democrats in the past, but not in the last election. These groups are important and growing; 63% of Americans lack college degrees, and many Americans have not seen income gains. We are the party traditionally supportive of working class people, she said. We must regain that vision and support. We need good ideas to expand and protect the middle class.

One exciting development Tanden cited is the huge number of women running for office: 11,000 now, many in previously uncontested races. One attendee called for young, vibrant leadership, representative of the entire country, not just "geriatrics from both coasts." There is no more important race than the 2018 midterms; state legislatures are perfectly positioned to counter the current administration. Another audience member recommended that the Party improve their websites with more policy and strategy messages and fewer requests for donations.

"Movements change Parties. Parties don't change movements," Tanden asserted. She believes that political parties are vitally important. She discussed gerrymandering and how critical it is for Democrats to gain control of governorships and state legislatures prior to the reapportionment and boundary changes that will follow the 2020 census. Otherwise, the Republican Party will counter its loss of the "war of ideas" by increasing its voter suppression efforts.

A member said that young people need to hear more about America's strengths, rather than the constant negativity, tearing down, and ugliness of politics. Ms. Tanden said, "We need citizen servants running, who believe in America. Trump is an aberration, and he doesn't speak for us."

CAP continues to act as an ideas incubator. See the many relevant topics on their website. CAP created the basis for the Affordable Care Act (Ms. Tanden helped lead that effort while a senior advisor at HHS). CAP also researches and promotes progressive tax policies.
Advocacy Committee Report
Advocacy Committee Report
By Ginger Macomber

The Advocacy Committee has been busy preparing for the 2018 State Legislative session that started January 10. The Committee is focusing on legislation that is directly relevant to women and their families, and addresses one of WDC's six priority issue areas: Affordable Housing, Aging, Children and Youth, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Health, and Working Families. The WDC Board approved the Advocacy Committee's recommendations for the upcoming legislative year at its October Board meeting. On November 13, WDC President Fran Rothstein presented testimony at the Montgomery County State Delegation priorities hearing about WDC's 2018 priorities. Advocacy Committee Co-Chair Ginger Macomber delivered WDC letters and met with the legislative directors for Senate President Mike Miller ( view letter ) and House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch ( view letter ) to discuss WDC's priorities . The legislature has already voted to override Governor Hogan's veto of the Healthy Families Working Act.
At the County level, WDC President Fran Rothstein presented testimony in support of revisions to Montgomery County's Moderately Priced Dwelling Units (MPDU) requirements that would increase MPDU unit requirements for certain new housing developments. A number of advocacy groups proposed amendments to these bills, 34-17 and 38-17. WDC's Affordable Housing Subcommittee will monitor additional hearings on these bills as they come up. View WDC Testimony for 34-17 here and 38-17 here.

The Advocacy Committee updated WDC's General Policies and Procedures for WDC Legislative Endorsements which received WDC Board approval at its January meeting.

Mark your calendars for WDC Advocacy Day by February 21 for this members-only event. You will have a unique opportunity to see the General Assembly in action, learn effective advocacy strategies from Annapolis insiders, meet one-on-one with legislators, and tour the State House. For questions, contact Advocacy Committee Co-Chair  .

Check out the Advocacy Committee's new look on the redesigned WDC Website. Visit the Committee's dropdown menu where you will find information about the Advocacy Committee , WDC's Legislative Priorities , and a tutorial on Understanding the Legislative Process .

To help advocate for WDC's legislative priorities, be sure to join the Advocacy Alert Team. This is a quick and easy way to strengthen WDC's impact on legislative proposals of importance to women and families. Our legislators listen to their constituents, so it makes a real difference when they hear from you about a bill.

WDC Annapolis Day
When:       Wednesday, February 28
Time:         9:00-3:30 PM
RSVP:       WDC Google Form 

At this unique members-only opportunity we will see the General Assembly in action, watch the Senate and House debate live, learn effective advocacy strategies from Annapolis insiders, meet one-on-one with legislators, tour the State House, and observe legislators in committee.  RSVP by  Feb 21 to this first-come, first-served event.
For questions, contact
 PACE Presents Precinct Power
Participate in PACE Precinct Power Action Plan
By Barbara Noveau and Olivia Bartlett

WDC's PACE Committee (Political Action and Civic Engagement) presented "Precinct Power: Getting Active/Making Change," November's Happy Hour with a Purpose that focused on precinct engagement and political action. WDC Board Member Enid Light graciously hosted the event. A summary of the presentation follows.

In 2017, PACE members focused on phone banking, canvassing, and voter registration in Virginia, as well as phone banking on several special elections around the country. PACE worked closely with DoTheMostGood MoCo and J Walkers Action Group in these efforts.  

Following the 2017 Virginia election, PACE and many other local groups are now turning attention homeward to Maryland's midterm elections in November 2018. PACE co-chair Barbara Noveau (who is also Executive Director of DoTheMostGood MoCo), WDC member George Neighbors (co-chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Precinct Organization), and PACE member Marie Mapes (a D20 representative to the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee) described how PACE is collaborating with other progressive groups.

Applying a strategy validated by the Virginia results, PACE and many other progressive groups will use the time before the June 26 Primary Election to talk to "occasional Democrats" - those who vote in Presidential elections but not always in the midterms. Every precinct will be asked to accept the "the 15-point challenge" to increase Democratic turnout by 15 points in every precinct.

That's a big goal, but it's doable if progressive groups work together. "And we will," the presenters vowed. PACE will be working with MCDCC and the precinct organization, as well as with grassroots activist groups, to renew the precinct organization. This includes recruiting precinct chairs to fill vacancies and "upping" the role of the precinct chair as the "face of the Democratic Party" in their community, and the leader of voter outreach and engagement. At the same time, collaborating groups will be aggressively registering new voters, especially from under-represented communities, to generate a "blue wave" like the ones that have washed over Virginia and special elections across the country.

This is a groundbreaking collaboration between the Party and a number of grassroots activist groups that have moved into the forefront since the 2016 election. WDC members, whether PACE members or not, were encouraged to:
  •  Become a precinct chair or volunteer to support the chair in your precinct or another one that needs support.
  • Volunteer to phone bank and canvass to reach "occasional Dems" in your own and other precincts as needed.
  • Register citizens who are not registered to vote.
  • Amplify messaging about what Maryland Democrats stand for, and the danger represented by Gov. Hogan and other Republicans.
  • Take a leadership role in organizing any of these actions or other precinct or district-level events.

For more information, contact PACE co-chairs Barbara Noveau or Nancy Walker

One Year Anniversary of the Women's March 
WDC Commemoration of the Women's March  
By Ginger Macomber

There was a standing room only crowd at WDC's January 11 "Happy Hour with a Purpose" at the home of WDC Board Member and Membership Committee Co-Chair  Enid Light.  The Happy Hour commemorated the one year anniversary of the Women's March and energized us all for the political activism of the year ahead.  Congressman Jamie Raskin, State Senator Susan Lee, Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart, and Maryland Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Matthews spoke about the importance of staying organized and engaged.  We need to be aggressive and bold and make political engagement a  year round  effort across our County and State.  WDC President Fran Rothstein acknowledged the many elected officials and candidates who were  present,  and urged members to sign up  to be part of WDC's Advocacy Alert Team and join WDC's Political Activism and Civic Engagement (PACE) Team by contacting PACE Co-Chairs Barbara Noveau  or Nancy Walker .  
MLAW Reception and Briefing
When:       Thursday, February 8
Time:         4:30-6:30 PM
Where:     President's Conference Center of the Miller Senate Office Building, 11  Bladen St, Annapolis, MD 21401
Register:   Eventbrite

Please join WDC at the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women's Annual Legislative Reception and Briefing. This is your opportunity to learn about the legislation that will make up the 2018 Legislative Agenda and to meet with legislators to discuss issues important to women.

The event is free, but please register early as registration is limited.  Also, please only register if you are sure you can attend.  Last year's event "sold out" and MLAW had to cut off registration.  

Bring a photo identification to enter the Senate Building.  There are several parking garages located near the House building, as well as metered parking throughout Annapolis.  You also may park at Navy Stadium and take the shuttle to the Senate Building.

For more information, email MLAW at or call 443-519-1005.

February Happy Hour
When:    Thursday, February 15
Time:      5:30 - 7:00 PM
Where:  Lebanese Taverna Bethesda 

Democrats who are passionate about politics gather to relax and network with WDC members and their guests.   Our February Happy Hour theme is: Show Democratic Love. Vote, Join, Volunteer and Give Gift Memberships.
Safe Passage Center Update -- Great News!
Safe Passage Center Update -- Great News!
By Lynn Olson
On January 19, County Executive Ike Leggett, seven County Council members and Court Watch Montgomery President Laurie Duker cut the ribbon to officially open Montgomery County's new Safe Passage Center providing monitored child exchanges and supervised visits for families experiencing domestic violence. The opening culminated a five year campaign led by Court Watch Montgomery to address a serious gap in the County's domestic violence safety net. In her remarks, Duker singled out County Executive Ike Leggett and Council Members Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal, Craig Rice and Sidney Katz for their work in shepherding the Center into service.
Mary Silva, a WDC member and head of the Court Watch campaign to establish the Center said, "Thanks to WDC and other county groups who were steadfast and effective advocates for the Safe Passage Center. We couldn't have done it without you."  

Now Court Watch turns to educating the courts, families, and the public about these new County services. If judges do not require families to use the Safe Passage Center, victims and children in the county will remain at great risk. If the public doesn't know about the Center, families who need these services may not hear about them, thereby reluctant to seek protective orders. As Laurie Duker said at the ribbon cutting, "Tell everyone you know. You may save a life."  (Read Laurie Duker's remarks here)

If you would like to help Court Watch on education, awareness and making these services more accessible to residents countywide, please contact Mary at
Education Event Highlights Jobs and the Economy
Education Event Highlights Jobs and the Economy
By Bonnie Wicklund | View  Biotechnology and the Montgomery County Economy Presentation By Dr. Jones

David Petr, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC), and Dr. Collins Jones, Biotechnology Program Coordinator at Montgomery College spoke to an evening crowd at Rockville Public Library on January 23rd. Almost 20 candidates running in various Democratic primaries this spring attended, indicating the high interest in the topic.  This is the second of three planned events on new directions for Montgomery County organized by WDC's Education Committee, co-chaired by Brenda Wolff and Diana Conway.

MCEDC is a public/private partnership created to encourage and support business growth, increase jobs, and expand the tax base in our county. Petr structured his remarks around three goals:  retaining existing companies; helping companies to grow their business; and attracting new companies. MCEDC is now working on some 60 projects, and the recent announcement that Montgomery County has made the short list of possible sites for Amazon's new center was good news.  The MCEDC website is

In the past, Montgomery County has not excelled at promoting itself as business friendly, Petr asserted. He and his staff of 18 are trying various tactics to change that.  MCEDC has reached out to 1000 existing companies, trying to determine what they need to succeed, and enlisting their help in telling "the great story that hasn't been told." One project is "MoCo 365," a series of one-minute videos airing one each day-all kinds of people at every level of business telling what they love about Montgomery County. Readers can view these videos at

Attracting new capital investment and diversifying the kinds of companies is also a focus of Petr's.  Besides biotech, which has been important for many years in Montgomery County, the hospitality and cybersecurity sectors are strong.  He added that there is a regional effort to attract up-and-coming robotics companies.  While our educated and highly diverse population is a selling point, challenges for attracting new businesses include transportation and the lack of affordable housing.

Dr. Jones from Montgomery College explained that biotech means simply using living organisms to make useful products, including vaccines, diagnostics, cell therapy, monoclonal antibodies, gene therapy, and bio printing. He emphasized that the time to market in this industry is not quick; from concept to product can take from 10-15 years, and can cost from $500 million to $2.5 billion.  Right now there are about 300 biotech companies in our county, employing some 15,000 workers.  The county is known for its incubator companies, reliant on investor capital, each employing only a few employees, and Dr Jones said that he supports the MCEDC goal of helping these small companies develop to the mature, revenue-producing stage.  But, crucially, there are also 600 local job openings in the field, and the industry is having a hard time finding qualified workers.  
Montgomery College has a new bio-science building with state-of-the-art labs for students, start-ups can also use the equipment for a fee.  The curriculum for the biotech program has been developed with input from the industry, and Dr. Jones helps his students land positions in the industry and in academia.  
When asked whether MCPS students enter Montgomery College academically prepared for higher education, Dr. Jones was critical.  Students need to be held accountable, he said; they often lack basic math skills, and seem unwilling to focus, work hard, and meet deadlines.
Both presenters took many questions, and inevitably the subject of Amazon' s possible move into the county came up.  MCEDC supports the bid to attract the retailing giant, Petr said, citing the long-term boost to tax revenue, lots of new jobs, and the diversification factor.  Jones said simply that there are pros and cons.
Save the Dates
Thursday, March 22  County Executive Forum
Tuesday, April 24 Gubernatorial Forum

WDC will hold its Candidate Forums at the Silver Spring Civic Center after the filing deadline.  Mark your calendar for the County Executive Forum (Wednesday, March 22, 7:00-9:00) and the Gubernatorial Forum (Monday, April 24, 7:00-9:00). You won't want to miss these opportunities to learn about your candidates.
Sunday, May 6: Montgomery County Democrats Spring Brunch

Save the date for the Montgomery County Democratic Party's Spring Brunch!  The  Brunch is a place for you to reconnect with fellow Democrats as we recommit to the work of mobilizing our community against the destructive policies and dangerous rhetoric of the current administration.   
Visit These Calendars to Stay Up to Date

WNDC offers WDC members a discount on speaker events and parking; use promotion code WDC2017 when you register.

WDC Resources
Thank You to Our Contributors
Thanks to Alison Bennett, Olivia Bartlett, Diana Conway, Laurie Duker, Tracy Dhyani, Mary Lou Fox,  Andrea Grossman, Linda Kolko, Enid Light, Ginger Macomber, Marie Mapes, Joan Moyer, George Neighbors, Barbara Nouveau, Lynn Olson, Teddi Pensinger, Ashley Rhinehart, Joan Riggs, Audrey Rothstein, Fran Rothstein, Emily Shetty, Mary Silva, Nancy Walker, Bonnie Wicklund, and Brenda Wolff for their contributions to this newsletter.