Tribune Print Share Text

Local Democratic club heats up

Election-year happenings at Riderwood

Created date

April 19th, 2018

Democratic Club Vice-President Angela Miotto (far left) moderates a panel of Democratic candidates for the June primary election for Montgomery County executive and county council.

With an election year now upon us, Riderwood’s resident-run Democratic Club has been busy. Nearly 3,000 active and politically engaged retirees live at the Silver Spring, Md., Erickson Living community and consistently turn up to the polls on Election Day. That’s why candidates make it a priority to schedule campaign trail stops at the community.

The Riderwood Democratic Club recently hosted Rep. John Sarbanes, who represents Maryland’s third congressional district, as well as Kathleen Matthews, chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. In early March, the group was gearing up to hear from candidates for local offices.

“We have the county executives and the county council people coming in for meet and greets, then we’ve got the people in the state races, both legislative and gubernatorial,” says Mike Miller, club president. “Then we will move on to the federal candidates. Once the primaries are done, we’ll focus on the general elections.”

Lobby-worthy causes

Like many people in America these days, Mike says the Democrats at Riderwood are particularly engaged in the current political climate. In fact, attendance at monthly meetings has grown from a range of 50 to 75 people to more like 100 to 125.

When community members attend meet and greets with candidates, Mike says they come with “hard-hitting questions.”

“The people who come to meetings are energetic and knowledgeable, and they ask good questions,” Mike says.

Riderwood neighbors are interested in issues that concern retirees, such as Medicare and Social Security. But Mike says they’re also passionate about things like protecting the environment, gerrymandering, and gun safety. Following the tragic school shooting in Florida in February, Mike says both Democrats and Republicans were looking for ways to reduce gun violence in the U.S.

“There’s real desire among people here to do something about it,” Mike says.

With several competitive races on the horizon, the Democratic Club was planning to focus most of its efforts this year on hosting candidates and getting people out to vote. But they’re also beginning to organize groups to go to Annapolis to lobby for causes that are important to them.

Retirement goals

Mike spent his career as a civil servant, working for the federal government in archives and records management. He stayed away from politics while he was working.

“Now that I am retired, that was one of the things I wanted to become involved in,” Mike says.

Joining Riderwood’s Democratic Club and now serving as the group’s president has given him an ideal opportunity to check off one of his retirement goals.