The Primary Election for Montgomery County state and local offices, plus members of Congress, is Tuesday, June 24, 2014.
If you want some choice in who will represent you on County Council, as County Executive, in the Maryland General Assembly, now is the time to engage. If you think it doesn’t matter much, these are the people who make land use decisions, decide what to do with county property, who set tax rates, who decide how much money will go to schools, who control services that affect traffic and many other things that affect quality of life more than anything that happens at a national level.
Currently, all of Montgomery County is represented by Democrats at all levels.
This week, the Almanac will begin coverage of particular races that will be decided in the primary election with County Council District 1. Candidates responded to our request for information about why their candidacy matters, and why in Potomac in particular. Candidates also provided a short bio. These responses have been edited for length, but are in the candidates’ own words.
In coming weeks, we will publish responses from candidates for County Executive, County Council at Large, and candidates for State Senate and Delegate from Districts 15 and 16.
There are nine members of the County Council, five district members and four at-large members. Every Potomac resident is represented by the District 1 councilmember and the four at-large members.
- June 2, last day to request an absentee ballot by mail; 240-777-VOTE or download an application at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Elections/Absentee/AbsenteeApplication.html
- June 3: deadline to register to vote and be able to vote in the primary June 23.
- June 12-19: early voting starts on the Thursday, June 12, and runs for eight days through the Thursday, before the election. Montgomery County offers nine early voting centers. Voting hours each day at all locations will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The closest site to Potomac is at the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street, Rockville.
- June 24, Election Day, voting places open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Democratic Incumbent, County Council District 1
Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-1) lived in Potomac for 23 years. He was first elected to the Montgomery County Council in November 2006 as the District 1 representative for the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Kensington, and Poolesville areas. In 2011, he was elected by his colleagues to serve a one-year term as Council President. He is chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment Committee and a member of the Public Safety Committee. Regionally, he is the vice chair of the Washington Regional Board of Directors of the Council of Governments and chair of the Climate, Energy, and Environment Policy Committee.
Berliner was the legislative director for U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, a policy advisor to U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, a senior policy advisor to the California State Legislature, and the director of Congressional Liaison for a federal agency in the Carter Administration. As a result of his experience, he is an expert on the legislative process.
His 20-year legal career qualifies his as one of the nation’s foremost energy lawyers, experience that has served our community well in dealing with PEPCO and other energy/environmental issues.
Berliner serves on the board of directors of the nonprofit Search for Common Ground, and on the Council of Advisors to the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. He was the host of the Montgomery Community Television show “Search for Common Ground in Montgomery County.”
Berliner obtained his law degree from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, and his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He is the father of Jesse Marie and Owen David Berliner, and currently lives in Bethesda. When he does get a chance to relax, he is a passionate fly fisherman, golfer, and an avid Nationals, Wizards and Redskins fan.
Roger Berliner on why his candidacy matters to Potomac residents:
Those of us who have had the privilege of living in Potomac, as I have, are familiar with all Potomac has to offer. My goal as your councilmember for the past eight years on the Council has been to preserve and enhance that quality of life for us and for our children. “Sustainability” has been a guiding principle for me — a sustainable economy and a sustainable environment.
As one who lived adjacent to the C&O National Park for many years, I have a deep and abiding interest in preserving our natural environment and resources. I led the fight to make sure that our fragile environmental treasure, 10 Mile Creek, was not destroyed by over development. And I sponsored nine environmental/energy bills that my colleagues approved on Earth Day that will, among other things, (1) require our county to only buy renewable power; (2) make it cheaper and faster for you to put solar panels on your home; and (3) create green jobs in making our commercial buildings more energy efficient.
But the concept of sustainability includes our economy too. And our economy is struggling. Our county must continue to attract jobs because without a stronger tax base, our county will not be able to provide the quality of service — the quality of life — we expect and deserve.
My focus has been on creating a better business climate for our County, and here are just a few things I have done in this important realm:
- Led the effort three years in a row to decrease the energy tax, which has a disproportionate impact on the business community;
- Created a “Small Business Navigator” position whose sole function is to make it easier for small businesses to thrive in our county;
- Created the position of “Chief Innovation Officer” to promote innovation in our county;
- Sponsored legislation that would use the state of the art approach to job training in our county. A trained workforce is critical to attracting businesses;
- Led the effort to move forward with the next generation of transit, rapid transit, in order to reduce congestion and improve mobility — keys to our county’s economic future;
- Led the effort to transform White Flint into what may well become one of the most desirable locations for businesses and residents in our county — and could contribute up to $7 billion in net revenue for our county;
- Supporting our school system, one of the county’s crown jewels. I moved to Potomac almost 25 years ago because of the schools and the fine quality of life. We need to preserve both.
Finally, I represent some of the finest residential neighborhoods in the county, and I am pleased to have the support of many neighborhood leaders throughout District 1, including the Brickyard Coalition. I have fought hard to make sure that we preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods.
It has been a privilege to represent the good people of Potomac on the County Council, and I would be honored to do so for four more years.
Democratic Challenger, County Council District 1
Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government
MSW, University of Maryland
BA, New York University
Montgomery County Council, At-Large 2006-2010
Past advocacy in the areas of public health, mental health, women’s issues and progressive values.
Held past leadership positions on various local, state and national boards: American Public Health Association; National Organization for Women; National Alliance for the Mentally Ill; Progressive Maryland; Montgomery County Board of Education, Counseling and Guidance Committee; and Montgomery County Mental Health Advisory Committee.
Current service on the National Research Center for Women and Families Board; Cornerstone Montgomery Board; and the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation, Advisory Board.
Most significant achievements:
Creation of the Montgomery County Family Justice Center – a clearinghouse facility for domestic violence victims and their families. In almost five years, we have served close to 6,000 individual families from more than 100 countries.
Served as the Council Finance Chair (2006-2010), helped guide the county through difficult budget times and still maintain the county’s AAA bond rating.
As the only health professional having ever served on the Council, I led the efforts to pass a trans fat ban which was the first such action nationally on a county level.
As a long-term resident of White Flint, I helped define the parameters of re-development in my backyard. Passed legislation to ensure adequate development project coordination, specifically in the area of tax revenue. Worked with the community and the White Flint Partnership to ensure community participation early and often in that process.
Parent of daughter Scarlett, a graduate of Walter Johnson HS and the University of California, Berkeley, She is currently a graduate student at the Harris School, University of Chicago. My son, Walter, is recovering from schizophrenia and lives independently and successfully, in a community rehabilitative setting in Silver Spring. My public advocacy in the area of mental health was borne out of Walter’s journey in recovery.
The people I have met in District 1, including Potomac, 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. They are tired of the back-room political deals and want a leader who has integrity and a heart. They know we must face our future challenges with both compassion and common sense, whether we are talking about the preservation of the Brickyard Educational Farm or the adequate funding of school construction.
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. 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 working with all parties, including business and labor, and empowering Montgomery County residents so that we create a local economy that sustains all families, and leaves no one behind.