By James Wright, Special to the AFROjwright@afro.com

Cherri Branson is no stranger to Montgomery County politics and as a candidate for one of the four at-large seats, wants to make the process works for everyday residents.

Branson is one of 33 candidates for the Democratic nomination to the Montgomery County Council. She served on the county’s legislative body from January-December 2014, replacing Valerie Ervin, who is now running for Governor, and is ready to get back to helping her fellow residents.

Cherri Branson is a former member of the Montgomery County Council who is seeking . (Photo Courtesy of Cherri Branson)

“There is a sea of change taking place in Montgomery County,” Branson told the AFRO. “This is a very appropriate time for someone who has experience in county government to be on the council. A lot of our indicators say that the county is at a crossroads and we could either go in a direction where people are doing well or not. I want to make sure that Montgomery County is on the path of prosperity and inclusion.”

Montgomery County is the largest jurisdiction in Maryland in terms of population. A 2017 U.S. Census estimate shows the county has 1,058,810 residents and 29.2 percent of its people over the age of 25 have bachelor’s degrees, the highest percentage in the country.

Montgomery County recently became majority-minority with 20 percent of its population Black, 16 percent Latino, 16 percent Asian and with Whites making up the rest. Branson said the new racial status of the county is revealing.

“We are the new majority,” she said. “Even though we are majority-minority, minority interests are represented in the county. When you run at-large you have to look at the county as a whole and address those issues.”

Branson said the interests of Silver Spring are different from Germantown and that is also the case with wealthy Bethesda-Potomac as opposed to more working-class, multi-ethnic eastern parts of the county.

Branson has an extensive background working for different levels of government. She works as the director of the county’s procurement program and served as the chief counsel on oversight and senior investigator for the Homeland Security committee for the U.S. House of Representatives.

A native of Shepherdstown, W.V., Branson got her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, a juris doctorate from Indiana University School of Law, and a master’s of laws degree from Emory University School of Law.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for the four seats, are six other African Americans: Brandy Brooks, Craig Carozza-Caviness, Lorna Phillips-Forde, Will Jawando, David Lipscomb and Jarrett Smith.

Branson said if elected, she knows what to do and will get it done. “I will request seats on the education committee and also government operations,” she said. “We want to make sure that Montgomery County schools are the best that they can be. My work on Capitol Hill and as the county procurement officer will be useful because I understand how government works and how to make it work better.”

Branson said her life experiences will influence her service as a county legislator. “My life has taught me to pursue fairness and openness in government, seek practical solutions to problems and to assure that everyone has a place at the table,” she said. “I believe this county must be a great place to live and work for all of its residents and I am committed to pursuing policies that bring about that goal. If elected, my priorities on the council will be economic development, housing affordability, transportation and land use.”