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Dramatic shift: Montgomery County Council likely to see first female majority in decades

Democratic nominees to the Montgomery County Council — who will almost certainly win in November — speak at a Women’s Equality Day roundtable. From left: K. Mink, Laurie-Anne Sayles, Natali Fani-González, Marilyn Balcombe, Kate Stewart and Dawn Luedtke. (Maryland Matters)

If successful in November, they will represent the largest-ever cohort of women councilmembers in Maryland’s largest county.

Contributing to the council’s forthcoming overhaul was an expansion to 11 seats — with two new districts carved from communities intended to better represent the county’s non-white majority — and three seats opening up because of term limits.

But Balcombe and the other women who won in the Democratic primary said the political playing field for women can still be unfair.

“I felt like I had to continually convince people of my qualifications. Even though I have a long list of accomplishments and credentials, I continually have to convince people that I’m the real deal,” Balcombe said at a “celebration roundtable” organized by the county chapter of the National Organization of Women on Women’s Equality Day last week.

All six of the Democratic nominees attended.

Sayles talked about the pressure on women candidates to present themselves ultra-put-together at all times — on top of the typical politicking and campaigning.

“We had to ensure that our message resonated with the people,” Sayles said. “A lot of people assume that just because we’re women we’re going to focus on so-called ‘women’s issues,’ and so I always fight back and say ‘Well, what are men’s issues?’”

By Danielle E. Gaines

August 29, 2022

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.

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