The first traditional county executive debate between the two men who have run Montgomery County for the past 20 years and a longtime council member brought a few jabs and some new campaign fodder on Friday.
County Executive Isiah Leggett, former County Executive Doug Duncan and County Councilmember Phil Andrews took part in a 90-minute debate presented by the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce and Bethesda Magazine in a banquet room of the Hyatt Regency.
Duncan, county executive from 1994-2006, issued sharp critiques of Leggett, county executive since Duncan left the job, on the Silver Spring Transit Center, economic competitiveness and state school construction funding.
Leggett stayed on the offensive, using Duncan’s own words from his time as county executive to illustrate the Silver Spring Transit Center also stalled on Duncan’s watch. He also cited a Duncan speech in 1995 to show the Travillah Road dump fire — an episode Duncan has used as an example of his ability to get things done — wasn’t put out as quickly as Duncan indicated.
Andrews continued to paint himself as a “tough leader” with a new approach that would curb tax increases, limit spending on government pensions and get more money for the county from Annapolis.
One contentious moment came in a discussion of transit and transportation priorities. Leggett said his early support for raising the state’s gas tax — passed last year — was essential to funding projects such as the Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transitway and a bus rapid transit system.
“On paper they looked good. But we needed to move them from paper to reality,” Leggett said. ”In reality, until we received the resources that we fought for from the gasoline tax and others, it was not possible. I led that fight.
“When the governor and others stood before you right downstairs this past summer to talk about the financial support that we had, they called out one person: ‘Ike Leggett’s the person that led this charge and advocated for this for years and years and he was right,’” Leggett said.
Duncan countered by saying Leggett was taken advantage of by state leaders in last year’s General Assembly, pointing to the $600 million Baltimore City got for school construction and the $200 million Prince George’s County got for a new medical center and hospital.
“That’s not leadership. That’s wrong. Montgomery County got played in Annapolis that session,” Duncan said. “No wonder they were so eager to praise you because they got away with not giving Montgomery County a lot of money for our schools.”
Two of the three Democratic candidates for governor debuted their first TV ads on Wednesday, a sure sign that this primary season is ramping up.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is seeking to become the first lieutenant governor and first black person elected as governor, emphasized his military service in his ad.
Brown, 52, served as a helicopter pilot. In 2004, at the age of 43 and as a state delegate, Brown was called to duty in Iraq.
“It was my responsibility to serve and that meant going to Iraq,” Brown said in the ad.
A voiceover lauds Brown for his service: “When many in his generation chose Wall Street, Anthony chose military service.”
Brown credits his father, a Jamaican immigrant, for instilling in him a desire to “get an education, serve others.”
Gansler’s ad spotlights citizens around the state to point out his accomplishments as attorney general and Montgomery County state’s attorney: Penalizing polluters, winning $1.6 billion in mortgage relief and making the state safer, “because I brought the Beltway snipers to justice.” It also touches on his legal support for same-sex marriage and his inner city Baltimore youth lacrosse league.
Takoma Park Del. Heather Mizeur is also running for the Democratic nomination. Republican candidates include Harford County Executive David Craig, Del. Ron George, former Bob Ehrlich aide Larry Hogan and businessman Charles Lollar.
Recent polls conducted by the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun show Brown with a 2-to-1 advantage over Gansler among Democratic candidates.
The primary is June 24.
The Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (MCCPTA) is sponsoring a legislative reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and has chartered buses from five locations in the county for the parents and students. The MCCPTA, with approval from MCPS, is offering three SSL hours to each student who come along, provided they stay for the 8 p.m.-8:30 p.m. session.
Montgomery County lawmakers have partnered with legislators in Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties to push for a state bill that would provide up to $20 million each year to fund a portion of school construction projects or project debt for the three large school systems.
“Montgomery County needs the State of Maryland to step up with a matched program for resources over and above what the County normally receives,” read an email sent from the county on Tuesday as part of its school construction funding campaign.
County Executive Isiah Leggett, Council President Craig Rice, MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr and Board of Education President Phil Kauffman are all set to lobby at the event, which will be held in the Lowe House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Room 170.
MCPS has grown by about 2,000 students a year and is projected to grow by about 25,000 students over the next 12 years. County leaders say Montgomery deserves state support in easing overcrowding concerns. Leggett recommended $1.1 billion of school construction funding in his latest capital budget and the county says its own funding for construction has increased by 36 percent.
But the bills — cross-filed in the Senate and House — face an uphill battle. County officials have blamed election-year politics for the efforts apparent failure so far to gain enough traction for approval.
The MCCPTA has said it expects about 300 to 400 parents at the advocacy event on Thursday.
Students who go to Annapolis must be accompanied by a parent, whether they go on MCCPTA buses or individually.
Kimberly Bloch-Rincan, the SSL coordinator for MCPS, wrote that advocacy activities are appropriate for SSL hours and that MCCPTA is a SSL approved nonprofit:
- Official MCCPTA representatives will ensure that all 3 phases of SSL are implemented (i.e. the preparation and reflection phases of SSL will occur on the bus and supervision during the action
phase in Annapolis)
- Students are encouraged to ride the MCPS buses to the event and must be accompanied by their
- Students are not encourage to drive in individual cars but if they do, they must meet the MCPS
buses in the parking lot to join the MCCPTA group in order be supervised and to receive the
One of the buses will leave from Whitman High School. Councilmember Roger Berliner will be on that bus.
For information on the MCCPTA buses, visit this site.
Flickr photo by richandalice
Those of you who follow restaurant and business news in Bethesda might know of Robert Dyer, the Bethesda resident and blogger who we often cite for word of what’s going on around town.
Turns out Dyer is an aspiring politician too. He’s running for an at-large seat on the County Council for the second straight time.
The above video, a 15-minute in-depth review of his platform, opens with triumphant music and shaky camera shots of Glen Echo Park. Dyer blames county leaders for what he says is a poor economic development record and promises to make Glen Echo Park — a former amusement park — into an “international tourism destination.”
“Glen Echo Park is the perfect metaphor for where Montgomery County finds itself today. This was once the greatest amusement park in the world,” Dyer says. “Now today, it’s mostly an empty shell used for arts and crafts programs. It could be an economic engine for the county, but its potential is not being realized.”
The longshot candidate has some support — at least on Youtube, where more than 30 folks have provided positive reviews.
In 2010, Dyer was the lead vote-getter among Republicans running for an at-large Council seat with 16,107 votes in the primary. In the general election, he got 82,773 votes, about 8 percent and less than half as much as Hans Riemer, the fourth-leading vote-getter for four at-large Council seats.
Dyer said he would push for a second Potomac River bridge crossing, the completion of the county’s master plan for highways, and more development of post World War-II style, single family home neighborhoods.
At the same time, he’d push against bus rapid transit and private development in urban areas.
“I can sum up this Council’s record on economic development in three words: Weekend at Bernie’s,” Dyer proclaims at one point in the video.
He continues by criticizing the Council’s work on the county’s plastic bag tax, outdoor smoking ban, bus rapid transit network and “encouraging young adults to drink more alcohol,” an apparent stab at the county’s Nighttime Economy Task Force.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s time we have a councilman whose agenda can’t be confused with Jerry Springer’s final thought,” Dyer says. “This Council is satisfied to be behind. I want to be No. 1.”
According to state records, Dyer doesn’t have an active campaign finance account.
Two others — Gaithersburg’s Chris P. Flotes Jr. and Silver Spring’s Shelly Skolnick — are also running as Republicans in the primary, so Dyer will be on the General Election ballot once again.
Video via Robert Dyer
Montgomery County legislators don’t expect to get a much-desired school construction funding package in this year’s General Assembly.
That has county executive candidate Doug Duncan on the attack.
“This is the latest in a string of school construction defeats over the past seven years because county Executive Ike Leggett has failed to lead and make education a priority,” read a press release from Duncan’s campaign on Wednesday night.
“Due to the county’s lack of leadership in making education a top priority, we have squandered yet another opportunity to get extra, necessary funding for school construction,” Duncan said, in the release. “Rather than provide real leadership, my two primary opponents were taken advantage of in Annapolis and we wound up trading higher taxes and gambling for less money for our schools.”
Duncan said Baltimore City leveraged its support for the recent gas tax increase to get a school construction funding package last year. Leggett and the county’s state delegation pledged to push a similar effort in this year’s session.
Leggett also pushed the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates for their support and partnered up with the county executives of Prince George’s and Baltimore Counties in a “big three” attempt to address overcrowding issues in all three school systems.
But with tepid election year support from legislators outside of the county, it looks as if the bill won’t pass. The measure would make the “big three” eligible for up to $20 million each year to fund a portion of school construction projects or project debt.
“You can’t wait until an election year to finally make a concerted push for more school construction dollars,” Duncan said in the press release. “I’m glad the county is taking my suggestion to push vigorously for school construction, I just wish we had done it earlier. Now it looks like Montgomery County will be a day late and millions short.”
Leggett’s campaign responded by saying this year’s effort continues “full speed ahead.”
“As for school construction funding from the State, County Executive Leggett — working with our delegation — has won $262 million in school construction funding from the State over the past seven years — despite extremely tough budget times,” read a response provided by Leggett campaign manager Scott Goldberg. “That is $60 million more than the County received under the previous Executive’s previous seven years — during which the economy was booming and budgets much easier.
“In fact, County Executive Leggett has averaged $37.4 million per year in State school construction funding — again during tough times — while the County averaged only $33 million per year under the previous Executive for his entire 12 years in office.”
Tuesday’s filing deadline produced a big surprise in the local County Council race and a big change in a local House of Delegates race.
We told you about former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg’s near last-minute filing to take on incumbent Roger Berliner for the District 1 Council seat.
Turns out there was more drama to come.
At about 8 p.m., an hour before the filing deadline, District 16 Del. Bill Frick decided to bow out of the race for attorney general and file for re-election to his House of Delegates seat.
Frick’s re-entry into the District 16 discussion now means two of three incumbents — Frick and Del. Ariana Kelly — are up for re-election. The third, Del. Susan Lee, is running to take over the seat of State Sen. Brian Frosh, who is running for attorney general.
That adds more intrigue to a Democratic primary for three seats that for more than a year was thought to include two open seats. Lawyer and local party official Marc Korman and lawyer Hrant Jamgochian were thought by many to be the frontrunners for those two open seats.
Frick’s last-minute reversal makes the situation more complicated. The Bethesda resident was trailing at least three other candidates — including Frosh — in attorney general polls. As the race shaped up last year, many thought Frick would leave politics before running again for delegate.
Also in the Democratic primary for District 16 will be Jordan Cooper, Peter Dennis, Karen Kuker-Kihl and Gareth Murray. Rose Maria Li will run unopposed in the Republican primary.
(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Former County Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg filed for election in the County Council district that includes Bethesda and Chevy Chase on Tuesday, the last day candidates are allowed to file for this June’s gubernatorial primary.
Trachtenberg, a Democrat who was an at-large council member from 2006-2010, will take on incumbent Roger Berliner, who until Tuesday looked to have a clear path to his third term representing District 1.
The last minute filing for District 1 comes as something as a surprise.
Trachtenberg was rumored to be weighing some type of run this election season, though she told Bethesda Magazine last month that she had decided not to run for the open District 16 state senate seat and that she was still weighing a bid for an at-large Council seat.
Communications consultant and former Trachtenberg advisor Eric Hensal tweeted a photo of Trachtenberg making her run official at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Her campaign later released some quotes from Trachtenberg on the filing:
“The people I have met in District 1 believe deeply in Montgomery County’s promise but also understand real leadership is urgently needed in Rockville. They want a progressive fighter – a leader who will protect our quality of life but also help plan for our future.
“Our top priorities must be growing the local economy and creating jobs, supporting our teachers and students, sustaining our environment, honoring our seniors and veterans, and reaching out to the most vulnerable,” said Trachtenberg.
The 1st District includes parts of Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights, North Bethesda and Potomac, areas she represented during her prior council term.
“In my career, I have fought against the political establishment, entrenched special interests, and I’ve beaten breast cancer to do what needed to be done for others in my life and for the people in my community. I will win the nomination because District 1 voters know I’m a fighter and the truth is that the future of Montgomery County rests in the hands of hard-working women and men.”
“My record of accomplishment for seniors, veterans, domestic violence victims, children and the mentally ill underscores my unwavering commitment to progressive values. Our campaign is about empowering Montgomery County residents and creating a local economy that sustains all families, and leaves no one behind.”
Trachtenberg ran in the Democratic primary for the 6th District Congressional seat that eventually went to Rep. John Delaney. The 60-year-old North Bethesda resident dropped out of the race in January 2012 due to a recurrence of breast cancer.
According to state campaign finance records, Trachtenberg has $122,574 in campaign funds on hand, all left over from previous campaigns. She did not report any contributions in 2013. Berliner reported $52,000 in available campaign money in January.
Photo via @EricJHensal
Folks in Bethesda will get to see the three Democratic candidates for county executive in action next week, as the trio is set for a debate on Friday, March 7.
The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce and Bethesda Magazine are putting on a traditional debate featuring County Executive Isiah Leggett, Councilmember Phil Andrews and former County Executive Doug Duncan from 8:15 a.m.-9:45 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda (1 Bethesda Metro Center).
Bethesda Magazine political reporter Louis Peck will moderate.
Also next week, county executive and County Council candidates will gather in Silver Spring for a candidate forum on renters’ issues.
The Montgomery County Renters Alliance (a BethesdaNow.com advertiser) is hosting the free forum from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 5 at the Silver Spring Civic Center (1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring).
The last day to file for the June 2014 primary is Tuesday, meaning we’ll have a clear picture of all of the races.
Duncan, who ran the county for three terms before Leggett took over in 2006, has consistently argued he’s a stronger leader than the two-term incumbent. Leggett has touted his fiscal stewardship during the Great Recession and put some of the blame for the county’s financial difficulties during that time on Duncan’s spending. Leggett has also said the county is in much better economic shape today because of his leadership.
Andrews, who will not take campaign contributions from interest groups, is campaigning as a change of pace from the two county Democratic heavyweights.
The Chamber debate on March 7 will include a networking and continental breakfast starting at 7:30 a.m. Registration is $35 and $25 for Chamber members.
Daly Makes Bid For At-Large Council Seat Official — Dickerson resident Beth Daly made her attempt at grabbing a County Council at-large seat official Tuesday. Daly filed for election and will take on all four at-large incumbents — George Leventhal, Hans Riemer, Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen — plus Olney resident Vivian Malloy.
“It is going to be a tough race against seasoned candidates, but I am seeing my message resonating with county voters who are tired of sitting in traffic, losing their green spaces and seeing their kids go to school in portable classrooms,” Daly said in a prepared release announcing her filing.
Daly serves on the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board and said she is one of the original members of the Save Ten Mile Creek coalition, the group fighting against planned development it argues will threaten the region’s emergency water supply. She’s hoping her upcounty activism helps separate her from the incumbent at-large council members. Riemer, Elrich and Leventhal live in Takoma Park. Floreen lives in Garrett Park.
“It would benefit the Council to have more people who understand the upcounty,” Daly told us at a fundraiser for Emerge Maryland last week in Bethesda.
Daly, who’s relying on an all-volunteer campaign team of about 10 people, lived in Kensington and Bethesda before moving to Dickerson.
D-18 Delegate Field Gets More Crowded — Despite a unified ticket of incumbents in District 18, the House of Delegates race there saw two new candidates come into the fold earlier this month. The district, which covers parts of Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Kensington and Wheaton, now has seven delegate candidates for three seats.
Shetty is a Wheaton resident and lawyer working for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She’s also on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and active in Montgomery County Young Democrats. Fani-Gonzalez started her career as a lobbyist for CASA de Maryland and now owns her own public relations shop that caters to civil rights organizations.
The Kensington resident says her focus is on economic justice, sustainable development, women rights, immigrant rights and quality education.
Cooper Launches Campaign App — D-16 candidate for delegate Jordan Cooper on Wednesday announced his campaign is launching a phone app that will let people know if they are in District 16 based on their location. The app, developed by Walter Johnson High School student Robert Mozayeni, will also let people contribute directly to Cooper’s campaign and get news and alerts leading up to the June 24 primary.
“I volunteered to design this App for Jordan Cooper because, with his emphasis on job opportunities for youth and funding for education, I believe he is the best candidate for both students and Millennials, and I want to give back and help him succeed in this June’s Democratic primary. Even though I can’t yet vote, I found a way to be a part of the campaign,” Mozayeni said in a press release.
News and Notes — Observer of local politics (and Town of Chevy Chase council member) David Lublin handicapped the D-16 delegate race and doesn’t give Cooper much of a chance. Lublin praised Cooper’s effort but predicted Marc Korman and Hrant Jamgochian will likely join incumbent Ariana Kelly in Annapolis next session. …A new Washington Post poll gives Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown a commanding lead over Attorney General (and Bethesda’s own) Doug Gansler in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.
County executive candidate Doug Duncan again attacked Isiah Leggett’s leadership ability in a radio appearance on Friday and also promised a review of the county’s speed camera program if elected this year.
Duncan, who served three terms as county executive from 1994-2006, went on WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show to make the case for his old job.
Duncan is facing two-term County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Councilmember Phil Andrews in June’s Democratic primary.
Duncan emphasized his focus on getting school construction money from the state and criticized Leggett and Andrews for not pursuing a package of state funding until this legislative session.
“They waited until an election year to come up with a plan for what we need to do to come up with construction dollars,” Duncan said.
He also said Leggett and other county leaders missed “a golden opportunity” to push for a statewide school construction funding bill last year, when state officials from Montgomery County gave their support to a similar funding package for Baltimore City.
“Education is my top priority. Always has been, always will be,” Duncan said. “Some of the students coming into our schools now, they have needs that are greater than the needs of children coming into our schools in year’s past.”
Duncan again said Leggett and Andrews were partially to blame for the over-budget and still unfinished Silver Spring Transit Center. Despite the endorsement of the county’s police union, Duncan said he agreed with Leggett and the Council’s decision to do away with effects bargaining rights for police. The union opposed that change and got enough support to push it to referendum during the 2012 general election.
Voters agreed to do away with effects bargaining, though Duncan said he did not approve of the way the county spent public money to campaign against it.
Duncan also indicated that he’d be open to funding the school system above the level required by the state’s controversial maintenance of effort law. Most county leaders have said that law serves as a disincentive to increasing funding for MCPS and makes funding the rest of the government more difficult.
“I think they’re wrong. Schools are the lifeblood of our community,” Duncan said. “If we just continue funding at the minimum level requirements, we’re basically on a path to mediocre schools, which is going to lead to a lot of problems for the county.”
NBC4 Washington reporter asked Duncan about speed cameras and Duncan said he would do a full review of the county’s program.
“I want to make sure the program in Montgomery County is focused on safety and not revenue,” Duncan said.
When pressed for examples of Leggett’s weak leadership — a popular Duncan campaign mantra — Duncan said he feared Montgomery County slipped in the past eight years. He included Andrews, a four-time council member, in his answer.
“They’ve been good public servants over a number of years, but at this time, because of the competitive environment we’re in… we need stronger leadership, someone who can solve our problems,” Duncan said. “One of the issues that we’ve had in Montgomery County is we perfected the phrase, ‘Paralysis by analysis,” in Montgomery County and we’re starting to slip back into that. I think the Transit Center is an example of that.”
Leggett has touted his fiscal stewardship during the Great Recession and has also said Duncan’s spending contributed to the county’s rough financial shape when he took over in 2008.
“What he has said is I left the county broke. You just have to laugh when you hear that,” Duncan said. “The facts are that I had 12 years of balanced budgets, 12 years of AAA Bond ratings, left the county with over $300 million worth of reserves, which the county rightfully used to get through the recession. I led this county out of two recessions. I want to lead it out of this third one.”
That percentage at the State House has dropped and Montgomery County — despite three current female council members — will soon choose between three male Democratic candidates for county executive. The county has never had a woman in the top job in local politics.
“We come out and vote at over 52 percent. We make up 50 percent of the population but we only hold 30 percent of the seats in the legislature,” said Diane Fink, executive director of the nonprofit Emerge Maryland. “So we’re not trying to do anything other than get our equal representation at the table.”
Emerge Maryland, which graduated its first class last May, trains Democratic women interested in running for office with 75 hours of classes and workshops over a seven-month period.
As Wednesday’s snow storm threatened, the group gathered in Bethesda with many of its first alumnae and supporters for a fundraiser.
“Our goal is to create that farm team,” said Bethesda resident and former Maryland Democratic Party chair Susan Turnbull. “When women are involved in politics, they bring a different sensibility to the office.”
The event Wednesday attracted a number of local politicos. Turnbull co-founded Emerge Maryland, one of 15 statewide Emerge programs in the country, in part to encourage more female candidates for office in time for the June 2014 Democratic primary.
Beth Daly, the Dickerson resident who’s running for a County Council at-large seat, was in the first group of 21 women that went through training in campaign fundraising, public speaking, endorsements and field operations.
“It’s almost like a sisterhood. Without that, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to make a run,” Daly said. “But after graduating from the class, it just sort of lifts you up. It gave me the confidence to say, ‘You can do this and we need more women like you to do this,’ women who are engaged in their communities, involved with their kids schools.”
Other graduates in the inaugural class include Brooke Lierman, a candidate for state delegate in Baltimore City, and Wendy Cohen, who mulled a run for delegate in District 16 before filing for the district’s Democratic Central Committee spot. Emerge Maryland Board member Natali Fani-Gonzalez recently announced her candidacy for one of District 18′s three delegate seats.
The training costs about $6,000 per person, Fink said. Participants pay a $500 tuition fee, so the group depends on fundraising.
Turnbull said Emerge fast-tracked its second class, which started in October and will finish in April, so it would be done in time for the June primary. Of the 38 women who took part in the first two Emerge Maryland classes, Turnbull said 18 will be on the ballot.
“Which is a huge achievement for these women,” Tunrbull said. “I think it’s a big deal to have 18 Democratic women who may not have had the experience and skills to basically have people say to them, ‘You need to run.’”
Bethesda district County Councilmember Roger Berliner filed for re-election on Wednesday.
The two-term council member from Bethesda so far doesn’t have any announced opponents. Wednesday was also Berliner’s 63rd birthday.
In a statement announcing his filing, Berliner touted his leadership on more than 20 energy and environmental bills, his efforts to protect Ten Mile Creek in Clarksburg, development of “next generation” transit systems and his advocacy for better Pepco service:
“It has been a privilege to serve the residents of the 1st District of Montgomery County as their Councilmember for the past eight years. During this time, I have sought to combine principled leadership, civility, consensus building, and the highest quality constituent service. If the voters of the 1st District conclude I have represented them well, I would be honored to continue in public service.”
Councilmember Berliner’s accomplishments on the Council include:
- Lead sponsor of over twenty energy/environmental bills that foster a more sustainable community and green jobs, and a leader of the effort to protect Ten Mile Creek;
- Leading Council development and passage of the next generation of transit and traffic mitigation;
- Advocate for short and long-term strategies for increased reliability of WMATA infrastructure and service;
- Leader in the County in advocacy for greater electricity reliability;
- Championing efforts to make our county a more vibrant, bikeable, and walkable community while at the same time increasing protections for our beautiful residential neighborhoods;
- Sponsor and supporter of legislation that reduces income disparity, assists working families, and provides for more affordable housing opportunities;
- Lead sponsor of laws that strengthened our County’s economic development efforts, greater innovation, and support for small businesses;
- Leading Council to reduce energy taxes; and
- Supporting our extraordinary school system and school modernization funding.
“Our county is a wonderful community. And yet, there is more work to be done if we are to continue to prosper. I would be most honored to be given the opportunity to continue my work on behalf of our community for four more years.”
Berliner, who started his political career as an aide for a Cincinnati mayor named Jerry Springer, bounced around to California, both houses of Congress and eventually settled in Potomac. He hosted a show called Search for Common Ground in Montgomery County on Montgomery Community Television, meant to bring together adversaries on various local political issues. He became an energy lawyer, which has often put him in the lead of the county’s interactions with Pepco.
Berliner reported $52,000 in available campaign money in his annual report for 2013.
Photo via Roger Berliner
Some commercial real estate developers aren’t so keen on a package of environmental bills in front of the County Council, specifically one measure that would require building owners to measure their energy efficiency and ensure their energy efficiency equipment is working properly.
At a Council committee public hearing Tuesday on a package of 13 environmental bills, a few commercial real estate representatives testified against the idea of the benchmarking measure and a separate bill that would require new commercial buildings to meet Silver LEED certification.
Councilmember Roger Berliner, who introduced the bills in January, defended his proposals by saying they are modeled on laws in other jurisdictions. Berliner has support from the majority of the Council on all 13 bills. The Berliner-chaired Energy Committee will hold a worksession on the measures on Feb. 26.
“Montgomery County is in a double-dip recession the likes of which it’s never seen. The federal government’s impact in Montgomery County will be declining in the next 20 years, which means we’re going to need to rely heavily on private sector growth for our economy,” said Charles Nulsen, president of the Bethesda-based Washington Property Company. “We have an A- grade in environmental stewardship. We have an F in economic stewardship. We should concentrate on pulling that economic grade up to a C.”
District 18′s three incumbent delegates and state senator have formed a slate for another term, but a group of serious challengers has set up one of the more interesting set of races this Democratic primary season.
The district — which includes parts of Bethesda, Chevy Chase, North Bethesda, Silver Spring and Garrett Park, Kensington and Wheaton — is billed as the most diverse in the state.
Since 2002, Chevy Chase resident Ana Sol Gutierrez has represented it. But Gutierrez’s hesitancy about running in 2014 is at least part of the reason there are now two registered House of Delegates challengers.
“I had the opportunity to meet with her over the summer. She actually told me she wanted to retire and I’m sure I’m not the only person who had that conversation with her,” said candidate Elizabeth Matory. “But I had already made the choice to run for office, regardless of whether Ana Sol was going to run. I was already under the impression that it could be running against all three incumbents.”
Gutierrez joins two-term Del. Jeff Waldstreicher and Del. Al Carr, who took over Jane Lawton’s seat in December 2007 after Lawton died that November. On Thursday, transgender-rights activist Dana Beyer announced she will take on D-18 State Sen. Rich Madaleno.
Also in the mix for one of the district’s three delegate seats is Rick Kessler a Forest Glen government relations consultant and former Congressional staffer.
Both Matory and Kessler said raising the state’s minimum wage is a critical part of their platforms. There is a Gov. Martin O’Malley-backed push for a $10.10 per hour minimum wage in this year’s General Assembly.
“The issue with the minimum wage is why are there so many people working for the minimum wage? What happened to the American wage? That is the main driving force of our campaign and that what’s really resonating with voters,” said Matory, a local Democratic activist who has a law degree from Howard University and is completing her MBA at the University of Maryland.
“Running was never something I thought I wanted to do until my son was old enough,” said Kessler, who came to the area to work as a chauffeur for New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg. “I was OK with how things were going but it seemed like there would be an opening. Frankly, I decided we could do better. My goal is to be the first choice on people’s ballots. It’s not to oppose anybody.”
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the leaders of the state’s second and third most populous counties are looking for support from gubernatorial candidates in their push for more school construction funding from the state.
In October, Montgomery County leaders outlined the funding they want from the state in the 2014 General Assembly to address what they called a “school capacity crisis.”
Leggett, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker sent letters this week to each of the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates asking for support:
We are asking you, as a current elected official and candidate for Governor, to support us in our effort to bring additional education funds to Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. These funds would be dedicated solely to capital improvements that will enable us to modernize schools and provide capacity for projected enrollment over the next decade. Our teachers deserve the best environment possible for teaching the next generation of Marylanders and our children require the facilities that will enable them to learn for the 21st century. Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties have invested heavily in recent years in order to make this possible and now we are asking the State to help us meet these demands. The top school system in the country merits nothing less.
MCPS is the state’s largest school jurisdiction with 151,00 students, an increase of 14,599 students since 2000 with a projected increase of 25,000 students in the next 12 years.
The county wants $20 million from the state to go with $40 million from the county to support $750 million in construction bonds to fund new school projects over the next five years. Leggett said the county would be able to construct 56 projects with the money.
Since October, he has joined with Baker and Kamenetz to lobby for state school construction funding in Annapolis and through the county website.
The so-called “Big Three” penned Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Takoma Park State Delegate Heather Mizeur — the Democratic nominees for governor.
Brown has said he’ll support getting Montgomery more state school construction money this year. Mizeur has also pledged her support for innovative state funding programs for school construction.
The state last year approved a similar school construction funding plan for Baltimore City.