Montgomery Councilmember Don Praisner Composed Final Thoughts Before Surgery
District 4 Councilmember, Who Passed Away on Jan. 30, Left Final Thoughts
ROCKVILLE, Md., January 30, 2009—Montgomery County Councilmember Don Praisner, who passed away today after undergoing surgery for colon cancer, compiled a statement before he entered surgery on Monday, Jan. 26. Among those thoughts, written with the possibility that he would not survive the surgery, was the request that the County appoint someone to fill his term rather than spend an estimated $1.3 million to have a special election.
Councilmember Praisner, 76, won a special election on May 13, 2008, to capture the vacant District 4 seat on the Montgomery County Council. The seat was open following death on Feb. 1, 2008, of his wife Marilyn. She had served on the Council for 17 years, but passed away from complications following heart surgery during her fifth term.
The complete text of Councilmember Praisner’s final thoughts is as follows:
Last May, when I took the oath of office, I had high hopes for serving the people of District 4 and looked forward to carrying on the legacy of leadership, independence and integrity that my wife, Marilyn Praisner, was known for and would have brought to the remainder of her term.
I am deeply saddened to think that this may not be. I am writing this before undergoing surgery on Monday, Jan. 26, 2009. I have no idea what the outcome of the surgery will be. If you are reading this letter, the outcome was not good. As you can imagine, the news has brought profound pain to my family. This means that the people of our great County and District 4 will have to endure yet more uncertainty.
One of my wife’s lasting legacies is her track record of fiscal responsibility. She had an unwavering commitment to assuring that taxpayer dollars were spent wisely, and I am also committed to that goal. With those thoughts in mind, I am asking my colleagues on the County Council to forego a special election and instead appoint a qualified and respected resident of District 4 to serve the remainder of my term if I do not make it through the surgery.
As we witness an unprecedented financial crisis unfold on Wall Street, and as we live with the consequences of that crisis right here in our own backyard, I am concerned that the County and District 4 residents face the prospect of a second special election in less than a year’s time. The cost of such an election could exceed $1.3 million at a time when our residents are struggling and County government is being forced to cut back on essential programs.
We also know from recent experience that few eligible voters cast ballots in these special elections. Turnout in the District 4 special election equaled less than six percent of the turnout in the recent presidential primary. In fairness to the voters of District 4 and the residents of the entire County, it would be better to appoint an individual who would serve out my term and who would agree not to run in the 2010 election. Such an arrangement would give potential candidates adequate time to share their vision for the county with the voters of District 4. We could then have a fair and open campaign with no candidate carrying the advantage of incumbency gained through a special election.
I am deeply proud of Montgomery County and its people. I consider myself extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to serve them. Nowhere are there such dedicated people who genuinely care about their community, their neighbors and their families.
To my Council colleagues, thank you for your tremendous dedication and spirit. I am grateful for the friendship and collegiality that you offered me. You inspired me with your commitment to the people of Montgomery County. To my good friend, Ike Leggett, our steadfast county executive in these uncertain times, I want to offer my deep appreciation. You have stood by my side through this past year. I will not forget any of you.
I wish you all well in the difficult days ahead, and I want to leave you with this one thought:
Norman Vincent Peale once said, “No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities—always see them, for they're always there.”