John Bickerman, who characterized the Town of Chevy Chase’s attempt to stop the Purple Line as not forceful enough, beat out incumbent Linna Barnes to win a spot on the Town Council in the Town’s election on Tuesday.
Bickerman, a mediator who has lived in the area for 20 years, beat out Barnes by 11 votes, 324-313, according to the Town. Mayor Pat Burda, the other incumbent running, won reelection with 384 votes.
At a candidate forum on April 25, Bickerman said the current Town Council hasn’t done enough to stop the Purple Line or curb development at Chevy Chase Lake and along Bethesda’s Wisconsin Avenue corridor. Part of the 16-mile light rail project would run behind homes in the Town of Chevy Chase, one of the few remaining entities that still seems opposed to the transit system.
“If you want to get it done, you have to organize. You have to tell them, if you don’t support us, we’re going to find a way to defeat you,” Bickerman said, referring to developers and county and state officials in favor of the Purple Line. “I think we can do better because I think we can exercise our political power more effectively, not testifying in front of a board, not paying for a study to show us something we already know. I know how to do it.”
Bickerman suggested using some of the Town’s estimated $9 million surplus to lobby the Federal Transit Administration against matching the state’s contribution to the $2.2 billion project. The Maryland Transit Administration expects to present its plan to federal officials early next year.
Burda, who said she believes in the tenets of smart growth, took a softer tone. Burda said hiring a consultant to lobby against the Purple Line would be a waste of resources and the Town must do its best to mitigate its effects. Burda helped create the Connecticut Avenue Corridor Committee, which is currently arguing for limited density in the Chevy Chase Lake Sector Plan before the County Council.
Bickerman also said he would like to see the Town come up with a new strategic plan that would offer some ways to use that surplus. He suggested the idea of burying some power lines, which Burda and Barnes said the Town has determined would be too costly.
In 2009, Barnes was reelected for the Town Council with 357 votes in a four-candidate race for two seats. She served on the Council for 10 years. Burda, who got 363 votes in that election, beat out two other candidates to win her first term.