By Ryan Miner
I’ve known Montgomery County Council candidate Tom Ferleman for nearly two and a half years. Tom and I first met in January 2015 and became friends.
I was a recent transplant to Montgomery County, and Tom was in the process of building an organization similar to Larry Hogan’s Change Maryland. Eventually, Tom founded a group called “Change Montgomery County.” He interviewed me and brought me on as a key component to the organization. There were some great times working with Tom. Often, Tom mentored me, and he encouraged me to grow past some of my sins and skeletons (there are a few in my background of which I’m not proud).
The organization’s purpose: To focus on four verticles specific to Montgomery County – Transportation, Jobs, Infrastructure, and Education.
I associated my online radio show, A Miner Detail, with the organization only briefly. Eventually, Change Montgomery County collapsed due to what I believe was a lack of vision and poor leadership.
Fast forward to 2017.
Tom Ferleman announced he was running for Montgomery County Council earlier this year. While I initially supported his candidacy out of friendship (and you could say loyalty), I quickly discovered I was uncomfortable with the way in which he was planning to run his operation.
After work on a Friday evening much earlier this year, Tom invited me to his home in Germantown for a conversation over Scotch and cigars. Sipping decent Scotch and smoking Montecristo #2’s, we talked politics as we usually did. After our Churchill Monte’s nearly burned to a nub, Tom handed me a list of several names, including Ed Amaetti’s, assuming that I would be interested in doing opposition research and use A Miner Detail as a weapon against his potential political opponents.
While I initially agreed to help Tom’s campaign, I soon discovered his motivations for running for County Council were impure. Subsequently, over several phone calls, Tom explicitly asked me to dig up dirt – or so to speak – on one candidate in particular – Ed Amatetti. Tom believed, and likely still does, that Ed poses the biggest obstacle to him winning the District 2 Republican primary. Tom is correct; at this point, Ed does post the biggest obstacle to him.
I later met with Ed one-on-one over cigars at a local cigar shop off Shady Grove Road. I met Ed a few times before and always felt that he was a fundamentally honest and decent man. It turns out that I embarrassed myself for even agreeing to assist Tom Ferleman when I learned that Ed Amatetti’s motivations for running for County Council are for all the right reasons. Moreover, Ed’s point-by-point plan is more attractive than Tom’s positions, and I agree with Ed’s level-headed approach to good government. I can’t say the same about Tom at this time.
Most of all, I trust that Ed is running to truly help his community. While I have a few policy disagreements with Ed, I believe his heart is in the right place, and his mission is to help not himself but the people of Montgomery County.
My sincere apologies to Ed Amatetti and his family for ever indulging Tom Ferleman’s worst instincts. I use whatever small platform that I’ve built A Miner Detail into to discuss issues and improve our political dialogue. What I will not do is use A Miner Detail to launch bombs on behalf of candidates who refuse to do their own bidding. Not now, not ever.
The bottom line for me, personally, is this: Along the way, my friend Tom Ferleman lost his way. While I do believe that Tom means well and wishes to do good on behalf of his community, his darker instincts seemingly take over.
I’m equally guilty at times of allowing my impulses to take over logic and reason. And there are times that emotion will get the best of me. But I won’t do Tom’s dirty work, and I certainly won’t use A Miner Detail to damage Ed Amatetti’s campaign. Whatever backlash I get from Tom and whatever response he may wish to release, I know the truth; so does Tom.
Tom and I will eventually shake hands and move past this. While it’s not uncommon for political candidates to unearth political dirt on their opponents, I’d like to think that Montgomery County candidates have far too many more important issues to discuss than engaging in a dirty campaign against someone who has spent most of his career giving back to his community.
I apologize to you, Ed.