Berliner Formally Enters County Executive Race

County Council President Roger Berliner said Wednesday he would work to bring prosperity for all county residents.

“Not just some, but all. Extending the ladder of economic opportunity up and down,” Berliner said at an event announcing his campaign to become Montgomery’s next county executive.

About 70 people attended the announcement, at Owen’s Ordinary. Berliner faces at least two members of the County Council for the job: councilmembers Marc Elrich and George Leventhal. Elrich formally announced his campaign in March. Leventhal has scheduled a formal announcement on June 24, although he has been open about his plans for months. Republican Robin Ficker also has filed to run for the seat.

In this MyMCMedia Extra, Berliner describes why he wants the job:

Berliner’s speech touched on familiar themes that most candidates in many elections will embrace this season: transportation, education, growth and the environment.

Berliner promised to insist that Gov. Larry Hogan “do right by those who suffer every day on 270 all the way to the American Legion Bridge.”

Berliner criticized Hogan’s $100 million plan to reduce traffic congestion on the highway, which includes restructuring pavement into extra lanes, automated traffic flow management and signs to provide drivers with up-to-date information.

When it was announced in April, Berliner claimed Hogan was trying to do “something on the cheap.” He used the same phrase Wednesday.
“We simply can’t get this done on the cheap as the governor has proposed. It will require a serious lift,” he said.

On education, he said the county would make progress on pre-kindergarten and quality child care.

On development, his speech touched on what is likely to be a key topics in the 2018 races: how much and where.

“Not growing is the definition of stagnation. And saying yes to growth, doesn’t mean growth anywhere, at any cost,” Berliner said.
He cited the neighborhood where he made his announcement, Pike & Rose, a former 1960s strip mall that now houses a vibrant collection of restaurants, shops, condominiums and apartments.

In running, Berliner has opted not to use the public election fund. Elrich, Leventhal and Ficker have all signed up for the fund. Under the fund, candidates are limited on how much they can raise from any donor. In return, the donations they do receive will be supplemented by county dollars.

Here’s Berliner’s reasoning on not using the fund:

Although he was about 20 miles south, President Donald Trump made appearances in Berliner’s speech.

The first time, Berliner used the president to praise current County Executive Ike Leggett: “As a result of Ike’s steady hand, we do not need to make Montgomery County Great Again. We are pretty darn good already.”

Berliner continued, “That is not to say we should be satisfied. We shouldn’t be. We have a far, far higher ceiling as a community. We have potential that has yet to be tapped. Our county’s promise is far greater. And we will reach it together.”

Then, he fired a shot at Trump’s environmental policies. “When I first joined the Council, I had the privilege of formally signing our county onto the Cool Counties pledge, a commitment to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Trump or no Trump, we are going to keep that commitment when I am county executive.”

And finally, he called Trump “a serious threat to our future.”

“His mean-spirited, small-minded, anti-democratic approach threatens the very soul of our democracy,” Berliner said. Affordable health care is a right, he said, not a privilege for those who can afford it.

“And in Montgomery County, we will continue our trailblazing efforts to provide free health care to the uninsured,” Berliner said.
Berliner closed on calling for civility.

“We need leaders who have demonstrated the capacity to bring us together. We need leaders who will build bridges, not walls,” he said.

Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at dtallman@mymcmedia.org or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug

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