Montgomery County, Maryland just released their new boundaries for County Council seats. Of special interest is District 4, purple in the map below. This district snakes through Takoma Park, Silver Spring, Kensington, Chevy Chase, and North Bethesda. The district looks weird and seems to unite an odd group of down-county residents. However, Dan Reed likes to point out that Takoma Park and Chevy Chase are quite a bit alike, so maybe this district makes sense.
Some YIMBYs have a sense that this new district could be the YIMBY district for Montogomery County. I am working on a YIMBY index of all of the districts, but for now, I have calculated the 2018 County Executive primary results at the new district level. I think this data should bring the idea that district 4 is going to be YIMBY-focused into question.
For those of you who missed the 2018 County Executive primary, it was wild. The sheer amount of mail that my roommate and I received about that race reminded me of a presidential general election in Western Pennsylvania.
The race pitted six candidates against each other (in order of the number of votes they received):
Montgomery County Council member Marc Elrich
Businessman David Blair
Former Mayor of Rockville Rose Krasnow
Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner
Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal
Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates Bill Frick
Elrich assembled a coalition of unions, progressives, and NIMBYs in high turnout suburban communities near Washington DC. YIMBYs were divided between Blair, Krasnow, and Leventhal. The latter is who Greater Greater Washington endorsed. Because of this, it is impossible to directly map the YIMBY-NIMBY divide onto individual candidates. I think it is fair to map some of the votes for Elrich onto his well-known NIMBY positions and a left-NIMBY alliance is fairly common in other cities across the US.
With some janky R and Python code, I was able to recode the precinct-level results of the County Executive primary to the new Council Districts. The results for the top four candidates are below.
One of the things that is fairly apparent is that the new District 4 is Elrich’s best district. Some of this is because of Elrich’s left positions being popular and being from Takoma Park. If you take a look at the map below, Takoma Park and adjacent communities voted overwhelmingly for Elrich.
This isn’t to say that a YIMBY is precluded from this district, but allegedly YIMBY-friendly areas like Downtown Silver Spring liked Elrich more than the county as a whole did. This should raise a red flag to the idea that this area is the YIMBY district.
Additionally, raw vote numbers from that election, below, suggest that any primary would most likely be decided in single-family neighborhoods. Silver Spring and some of the North Bethesda precinct show fairly low turnouts compared to single-family zoned areas.
I think this shows that a YIMBY running in this district is going to face the same or greater obstacles than a YIMBY in any other district.