GRANOLAPARK: Fear and boredom on the campaign trail

One-choice ballot


Dear Readers,

You can tell the Takoma Park city election is coming – candidates are showing up at city council meetings!

Seth Grimes (Ward 1 candidate) and Lorig Charkoudian (Ward 2 candidate) showed their faces – and voices – September 19 and 26. They each addressed the council during the public comment sessions.

Ward 3 candidate Kay Daniels-Cohen has them beat. She bounded up to the microphone three weeks in a row. First, on Sept. 6, representing the city’s Emergency Preparedness Committee, she helped the council proclaim September Emergency Preparedness Month. The next week, in case anybody forgot that September is, you know, Emergency Preparedness Month, she showed up to remind them. Sept. 19, speaking as a member of the city’s Recreation Committee, she popped up again.


Our second greatest fear about this upcoming election is that as soon as the energetic Daniels-Cohen is elected she’s going to initiate compulsory early-morning calisthenics city-wide. “And ONE, and TWO, and . . . I SEE you hiding behind that tree, Gilbert!”

Our first greatest fear is that when these candidates take office the city will skid and clank to a halt – like a train suddenly losing all it’s wheels. Why? Because their election will empty out the city committees. Almost all of the candidates serve on at least one city committee: Emergency Preparedness Committee (Daniels-Cohen), Recreation Committee (Daniels-Cohen, Takoma Junction Task Force (Seth Grimes and Lorig Charkoudian). Grimes and Tim Male (Ward 2) both served on the now-disbanded Task Force on Environmental Action, and actively promote the task force’s recommendations to the council. Kay Daniels-Cohen and Seth Grimes have been indefatigable volunteers and committee-servers for decades.

When these people take office, the city council will be full, but city committees will be vacant. They may have to shanghai people. We suggest you avoid walking at night anywhere near the city hall for the next couple of years.


We won’t know until next Tuesday night, but so far it looks like a BORING fall election, Dear Readers. You’d think three council seats going empty would spark some exciting politics. Right now, there’s only one contest – in Ward 2 between Tim Male and Lorig Charkoudian (who has the Armenian vote locked up, apparently.) Seth Grimes and Kay Daniels-Cohen are the only announced candidates in wards 1 and 3, respectively – so far! There IS a rumor that one other Ward 3 resident is thinking of getting into the race. If that person decides to go for it, the announcement will be made at the Nominating Caucus.

Tuesday night, Oct. 4, 7:30 pm is the city’s Nominating Caucus. That’s when candidates are officially announced. They are announced by their pals. Candidates keep their lips zipped – unless they nominate another candidate. Looking pretty is all they have to do. Their supporters do all the talking.

WHO the supporters are is the thing! Ideally, a ward candidate or incumbent has a string of nominations and seconds from neighborhood association presidents, residents from all corners of the ward, homeowners, renters, people of diverse race and/or lifestyles, and representatives of groups and causes they volunteer for. Best is being nominated by a current or former councilmember. At minimum they have a neighbor and a family member. If that’s all they have, though . . . Your Gilbert will gladly take your bet on them.

See Seth Grimes’ website (link above) for an impressive list of supporters – including county councilmember George Leventhal! Grimes knows the campaign drill, he ran for mayor a few elections ago.

If an incumbent can’t muster an ideal roster of influential and representative people like the above list, he or she has not been make your own conclusions!

Mayoral candidates – if there are any challengers – and the incumbent want a similar nominating roster – but city-wide. Nominations from city ward representatives are gold, nominations from county and state representatives are platinum. All nominators must be city residents for mayor, ward residents for representatives.


Got your nominators and seconders all lined up, Dear Reader? Get them down to the city council chambers between 7:00 and 7:30 to get their credentials.

After the mayoral nominations, the order of ward representative nominations is different each election. This year it is:

Ward 5

Ward 4

Ward 1

Ward 2

Ward 6

Ward 3

Your Gilbert will be reporting live and relatively sober from the city council chambers – otherwise known as the Community Center Auditorium.

– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

8 Comments on "GRANOLAPARK: Fear and boredom on the campaign trail"

  1. Barrie Howard | September 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |

    The Caucus is on October 4th at 7:30, not the 5th, and a contender surfaced in Ward 6.

  2. Correction made, thanks! 7:30 is when the caucus starts, but nominators can register beginning at 7:00 pm.

    You’re going to tell us someone is challenging Ward 6 councilmember Fred Schultz, but you’re not going to tell us WHO???

  3. I’m running for the Ward 6 Councilmember seat. The Takoma Park Patch ran a little piece yesterday, and The Gazette will be doing something a little more extensive soon. I’ll be at the Street Festival on Sunday from 1:00 till 3:00 at the Candidates’ Tent in front of Mark’s Kitchen. I’ll formally launch my campaign at the Nominating Caucus in person, but will also be on facebook, Twitter, and blogging using WordPress.

  4. Oh, it’s YOU! But, of course, this month you’ve been haunting the citizen comment mic at council meetings the same as the announced candidates have!

    Allow Your Gilbert a minute to gloat with pride. Because we knew it all along – even when we forgot we knew it. Almost exactly two years ago we wrote that Barrie Howard’s “appearances before the council as a citizen commentor . . . . have caused Your Gilbert to speculate that he may be preparing to run for council.” (Sept. 27, 2009: )

    TWO YEARS it took you to come to the same conclusion?!

    Oh, I suppose we have to be serious about this. Sigh. Dear Readers, Barrie Howard, New Hampshire Gardens Citizens’ Association President, has been focused like an angry laser beam on the Takoma/Langley Sector Plan development for the last couple of years. It’s the county’s development plan, and the residents have NOT been happy about it. The county’s new “CR-Zone, especially, has been a stick in the eye. Mr. Howard has been waving a large “DANGER – CR-ZONE!!” warning flag at the council for ages. Evidently, he’s decided the best way to push the issue up the city council’s priority list is to bring himself to the council.

  5. For the record: I didn’t speak during public comment on Sept 19. I was at the council meeting for the Takoma Junction Task Force presentation.

    I stopped posting Ward 1 endorsements when my would-be opponent decided not to run, but I’m really glad to have the support folks have shown my decision to run. Thank you all!

  6. Gilbert:

    Also for the record: Seth didn’t serve on the Task Force on Environmental Action, but did work with me (and others) before the TFEA was formed to urge the council to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in the city. It will be interesting to see if that effort gains traction after the election, especially if Tim Male wins the Ward 2 seat.

  7. Seth Grimes has been urging the council to act on the TFEA’s recommendations, especially hiring a sustainability coordinator, so avidly that you’d think he’d been on the task force. Grimes served on the famous TASDI committee which investigated the city’s double-taxation. He also was a founding member of Sustainable Takoma, a citizen group concerned with keeping city budgets and tax burdens low.

  8. I understand why you’d make that assumption. It does seem as if Seth is serving on every committee. I look forward to seeing him in action on the council as one of at least three new faces. Depending on the outcome of the Ward 6 race, there could be four.

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