(Correction 11:30 a.m.) This story incorrectly stated that Len Simon, Bethesda resident and community activist, was Roger Berliner’s campaign manager. Andrew Feldman is acting as Berliner’s campaign manager.
(Original) The crowd at Roger Berliner’s Thursday night fundraiser included hardcore Purple Line advocates and the mayor of a town actively lobbying against it.
There were developers, civic association leaders who have fought development, environmentalists who pushed for a law regarding the area’s tree canopy and a building industry official who initially opposed it.
Berliner, the two-term council member locked in an unexpected primary race, called it a “who’s who” of the district and a reflection of the support he enjoys from competing sides on many issues.
“I think it reflects how I try to go about my work of bringing people together, of honoring all stakeholders, of not pitting one community interest against another community interest, of being proud of being a common grounder, of trying to find common ground but without sacrificing principle,” Berliner said. “I had conversations just yesterday, somebody said, ‘Councilmember Berliner, we don’t know on a given issue where you stand.’ And I said to that person, ‘I consider that to be a badge of honor.’ Because I try to think about things before I decide how I’m going to vote.”
The fundraising event on Thursday was held at Bethesda’s Positano restaurant, one week after the campaign kickoff of opponent Duchy Trachtenberg.
Trachtenberg too said she was proud of the “diversity in the room,” at her event, during which she pressed hard for labor support by promising to restore effective bargaining rights for police.
“Remember, lots of folks in District 1 were born at night, but not last night,” Bethesda resident and Berliner supporter Len Simon said Thursday. “They’ll be able to tell the difference between a solid record and empty rhetoric.”
Trachtenberg’s filing deadline day announcement that she’d be seeking Berliner’s Council seat (and not attempting to regain one of the at-large Council seats she held from 2006-2010) was a surprise to many, including Berliner.
“We were not thinking right away that that was going to happen,” said Barbara Goldman, Berliner’s campaign treasurer.
She estimated it would take $250,000 in campaign spending to win the race. That leaves Berliner in an early fundraising hole.
Berliner reported $52,000 in available campaign money in January, with little fundraising activity in 2013. With a reported $122,574 in campaign funds left over from previous races, Trachtenberg has a decided money advantage with less than three months until the June 24 primary.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have work to do in this campaign,” Berliner said. “Let’s not kid ourselves. This is going to be a real campaign. We need you in every way possible.”
Berliner told the crowd, “There are stark differences already that have emerged in this campaign,” but followed by saying, “There will be another time to talk about that. There will be lots of time.”
Trachtenberg recently got support from a group of developers unhappy with Berliner’s support of a move to limit development near Ten Mile Creek in Clarksburg.
“I’m proud that the message that we’re sending is that all development is not equal,” Berliner said Thursday. “I’ve been somebody who has been so supportive of what we’re doing in White Flint because that is the kind of place, where oh my goodness, we can make something wonderful happen and something wonderful is happening.”
Also in attendance were Councilmembers Phil Andrews, Cherri Branson, March Elrich and George Leventhal. Berliner also will likely get support from Hans Riemer.
It was Berliner’s support of Riemer for an at-large seat in 2010 that some say caused a rift with Trachtenberg. Without union support, Trachtenberg was the only incumbent at-large candidate to lose re-election.
Berliner said his work to “get Pepco’s attention,” has led to improved electric reliability and that his support of the Purple Line doesn’t preclude him from working to lessen its impact on existing neighborhoods. He also thanked Elrich for his work on bus rapid transit, and said his own work on the Council helped bring a unanimous vote to start the planning process.
“At the end of the day, it’s about results,” Berliner said. “I’m proud of the real results that I’ve helped bring about for our community.”