Posted tagged ‘Valerie Ervin’

07.10.17 MoCo Politics: Endorsing Elrich & Grimes, plus early musings on the 30+ at-large candidates

July 10, 2017

Marc Elrich is running to be Montgomery County’s next executive to replace Ike Leggett. I have known Elrich since I moved to Maryland in 2000, as a friend, neighbor, and as a member of the Takoma Park City Council (where he served for 19 years) and then the Montgomery County Council (12 years). Elrich is the least ego-driven politician I have ever met. He is not enamored of seeing his name or face in lights or of power for its own sake, but rather gets out of bed every day in order to make a better world, especially for the underdogs. Elrich is also the least corrupted politician in Montgomery County, having consistently refused to take contributions from the politically dominant development industry. While he is able to meet respectfully with all players in county affairs, Elrich is the only member of the council who has consistently prioritized community needs over industry interests.

Further, Elrich is one of the most intelligent and informed public leaders we have. His encyclopedic knowledge of zoning, public education (he was a MCPS teacher for 17 years), and other arcana means he is as prepared to govern as anyone.  You can count on Marc Elrich to support anti-poverty programs, affordable housing, mass transit, quality of life, and the environment. Please join me in helping make Elrich our next county executive.

+++++

County Council At-Large

Talk about crowded fields! Local activist Paul Bessel has been collecting the names of declared and interested candidates for the four Montgomery Council At-Large seats in 2018. Here is a list he posted on Facebook last week:

 

 

There are a few inaccuracies on this list*, but you get the idea: over 30 candidates plan to go for the glory, competing against only one incumbent (Hans Riemer).

In this field, Seth Grimes stands out. I have observed over the past 15 years as Grimes has evolved from a Takoma Park gadfly (when he quite rightly called out the city government for poor management) to a wise contributor on public affairs locally and beyond. As a member of the Takoma Park City Council, Grimes got to know well the people and processes of Rockville. His policy line is consistently progressive, from anti-poverty (he serves on the board of Shepherd’s Table) to the environment. He is also one of three visionary founders and leaders of the Takoma Park Mobilization, formed in mid-November to counter the Trump agenda and now including over 1,000 activists. Like Elrich, Grimes is a smart and extremely well-informed student of local politics. Running for the council is a logical step for Grimes – his level of preparation and commitment to progressive values distinguishes him among the dozens of other candidates. I am proud to endorse Seth Grimes for county council.

+++++

I don’t recognize most of the names on Bessel’s list and encourage them to introduce themselves to me via an email to lhv@kberner.us.

I have recently met some of the candidates in the context of progressive politics, such as the Politics 101 workshop sponsored by Our Revolution and Progressive Neighbors in May. This list includes (in alphabetical order): Julian Haffner, Danielle Meitiv, and Chris Wilhelm. I can see that these three are explicitly progressive, but I don’t know any of them well enough yet to declare early support for them.

Rebecca Smondrowski currently serves on the school board and has a good reputation among progressives. I’m also eager to learn more about her.

Diana Conway has been an influential progressive activist, which makes me wonder why her husband, Bill Conway is running, instead of her. I wouldn’t blame one spouse for the other spouse’s opinions or work, but neither will I automatically give Bill credit for Diana’s. Count this as another candidacy I’m intrigued about.

I know Cherri Branson’s name from her brief tenure on the Council in 2013-14, when she took the place of Valerie Ervin as the District 5 rep, after the latter got bored with the job and quit. Unfortunately, what most struck me at the time was Branson’s endorsement (along with Ervin) of the eminently unqualified and ethically challenged Chris Barclay to take the seat in 2014. I have heard good reviews of Branson’s work on Leggett’s staff since then and am open to learning more to overcome that first impression.

Evan Glass is a smart and nice guy. But he chose to run for D5 in 2014 as a Chamber of Commerce candidate, backed by all the big developers. There was also an arrogant tinge to his campaign that turned me off (he claimed that the transit center debacle woudn’t have happened if only he had been on the council). Since that time, Glass has led the Silver Spring youth education organization Gandhi Brigade: noble work, indeed. As with Branson, my mind is open to being reintroduced to Glass this time around.

+++++

Candidates to oppose. . .

This blog has devoted considerable attention to Hans Riemer — I encourage you, Dear Reader, to search on his name in order to relive all the highlights. For those less hardy, here’s the summary of Riemer’s service to the county

  • began running for office before the paint was dry in his first Maryland domicile (following his move here from California in late 2005)
  • has used empty rhetoric to sound progressive, without actually leading on progressive policy
  • has championed relatively lightweight issues
  • has been less than forthright about his intentions and his record.

Riemer has never added up to much substantively. Yet, in 2010, he succeeded in deceiving experienced activists and naïve voters alike, with his pretty face, California cash (caché?), and ad nauseum repetition of the word “progressive.” Now we have another chance to show Reimer the door; voters would be fools not to take it.

Will Jawando certainly loves campaigning, joining his fourth contest (the other three were losses) since 2014.** Other than being a candidate, though, Jawando seems never to have done anything much for the community or the county.  Jawando is a smart and engaging fellow. He just doesn’t get that paid public service should be less a pursuit of personal glory, than the culmination of a previous do-good record – something earned, not acquired.

+++++

Public Financing

As I learn more about county council candidates, I will look favorably on those who opt-in to public financing and unfavorably on those who self-finance (in effect, seeking to purchase their seat) or who rely on $4,000 checks from special interests (including from the development industry or public-employee unions).

I learned today on the Seventh State Blog, that Conway and Riemer have qualified for public financing.

+++++

*The three from Bessel’s list whom I know or believe are not running for At-Large are Ukaih Busch (who has said so publicly), Bill Cook (who has declared for the D1 seat), and Jill Ortman-Fouse (who seems to have opted to remain on the school board).

**Jawando has previously run for MD D20 state delegate (2014), Congress from MD D8 (against Jamie Raskin, 2016), and for appointment to the D20 house seat that opened when Will Smith was appointed to Raskin’s seat in the state senate (2016).

©2017 Keith Berner

 

 

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12.04.16 David Moon for D20 Senate – deadline is December 7 to contact Central Committee

December 3, 2016

Maryland District 20 voters are thrilled to be sending Jamie Raskin, to Congress to take on the Trumpian forces of darkness. Raskin’s elevation leaves a senate vacancy that will be filled by a decision of the Montgomery Democratic Central Committee (MDCC) when they meet on Wednesday, December 7.

It is unfortunate that state law does not allow us to directly elect Raskin’s replacement: any appointment process is not exactly (small-d) democratic, but this is the process we’re stuck with. It seems to me that the most democratic solution would be to appoint someone who has already won D20 votes, namely one of our three elected state delegates. David Moon and Will Smith are actively campaigning for the seat (while Sheila Hixson has, unsurprisingly, decided to hold on to her chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House of Delegates). Both Moon and Smith have had impressive records as freshmen delegates. Both are strong progressives and have worked well with Hixson and Raskin.

I am endorsing Moon for Senate mostly because I see him as a determined progressive fighter in Raskin’s tradition, while Smith is somewhat more of a go-along-to-get-along Democrat that is more common in the MD legislature. Also, I have been significantly more impressed with Moon’s responsiveness to and engagement with district residents than Smith’s. (Smith has made several appointments to meet with me and broken every single one at the last minute.)

I urge you to write to all members of the MDCC immediately to indicate your endorsement. See below for more details.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the issues Moon has taken on:

  • Special elections to fill statewide vacancies: Just as D20 voters are frustrated by the lack of a chance to vote on Raskin’s replacement, so would we be if there were vacancies for US Senate, Attorney General, Comptroller. Under law, the governor would have had the right to name replacements, but Moon successfully got the issue on this year’s ballot (as Question 1) and it passed easily, meaning future vacancies will be filled by voters.
  • Helping homeless residents obtain birth certificates
  • Reining in mass incarceration and generally opposing the disastrous “war on drugs”
  • Early release of sick inmates
  • Protecting women’s pay equity
  • Reforming the investigative process in cases of police brutality
  • Reducing carbon emissions
  • Promoting transparency in rape investigations
  • Working to welcome refugees in Maryland
  • Fighting to maintain Metro service hours.

An argument has been floated that neither Moon, nor Smith should be appointed because it would give the selected individual incumbent power in the 2018 election. Those touting this position claim it would be more democratic to appoint someone for a two-year period who has not ever won an election in our district. I don’t buy it – as imperfect as the current system is, I believe the only way to respect voters is to select someone they have already supported.

If Moon or Smith is selected this week, that will open a D20 seat in the House of Delegates and the MDCC appointment process will start all over again. The following people should not be considered for that seat:

  • Valerie Ervin quit her last public office (MoCo Council D5) two years early because her ambition and arrogance led her to believe she would be a shoo-in for the county executive race (Ike Leggett’s decision to run again in 2014 killed her plans). Then she dropped out of an abortive race against Raskin for Congress after only two months, with a bitter attack on a political process she felt was uniquely stacked against her. She blamed everyone but herself, while a healthy number of other candidates made it all the way to April. Ervin has a record of anger and divisiveness, including a willingness to attack local progressives. If Ervin were appointed to represent us, we could count on her spending most of her time in office figuring out how to move up the political ladder.
  • Will Jawando has run twice for local seats (for state delegate in 2014 and against Raskin for Congress), losing badly each time. He has never done any on-the-ground work in our area and seems to think that his brief service as a White House staffer makes up for having no local record. I’d love to see Jawando work on something that benefits district residents before he tries again for political office.
  • Jonathan Shurberg is a very capable local lawyer who has done a ton of work for progressive causes and individuals in need. Just the same, he must have set a record for dollars spent per vote in his unsuccessful race against Moon and Smith for delegate in 2014. I endorsed his run at that time, but he did so badly in the final result that any appointment to office would be in violation of district voters’ clear preferences. Most recently, Shurberg used his blog to attack Raskin’s candidacy for Congress, while carrying water for megabucks, pro-corporate Kathleen Matthews and David Trone.

Please write to all members of the MDCC to support David Moon and to oppose appointment of anyone who has not previously been elected in our district. You do not have to write an essay – simply stating your view is enough. Here’s the list to write to:

©2016 Keith Berner

 

 

 

01.30.16 WaPo’s fluff on MD-8 race ignores Raskin

January 30, 2016

Full disclosure: I support Jamie Raskin for Congress, but am not formally affiliated with his campaign.

The Washington Post’s sole reporter on Montgomery County politics, Bill Turque, recently covered a Maryland District 8 congressional-candidate forum. Bless Bill: he wanted to shine a little light on all nine forum participants. But in taking an elementary-school-everybody’s-in approach to this important race, he forgot about journalism – the “balance” he seemed to be striving for was (1) unbalanced and (2) vapid.

Ok, it was novel to have GOP candidates present, in a race where a Democrat is 99% certain to win. Hence the seven paragraphs (out of 19) devoted to the GOP. Two of those were about a Democrat, Liz Matory, who switched parties in a fit of rage over the fact that no one anointed fellow-African American Valerie Ervin the automatic winner last summer. (Ervin quit the race in September, issuing a bitter screed about the lack of deference she got.)

Turque devoted two paragraphs to Will Jawando, who is bright and compelling for sure, but who has little chance of winning and is (at least according to this article) running solely on the fact that, as an African American, he would diversify our representation. (I expect that Jawando has more to say than Turque gives him credit for.)

Next Turque spends two paragraphs on one of the true heavy hitters in the race (along with Jamie Raskin): Kathleen Matthews. He actually gives her a sentence on policy positions (all of which are no-brainers for Democrats) before turning, again, to identity politics (Matthews: “We need more women in Congress.”) There’s nary a word on Matthews’s relevant experience (or lack thereof: she doesn’t have any) or previous service to the district (or lack thereof: she doesn’t have any).

Then, more identity politics: Ana-Sol Gutierrez as Salvadoran American and Kumar Barve, who would be the first Asian American member of Congress from Maryland (I fail to see the relevance in the age of Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal). Barve does earn a wee bit of substantive coverage from Turque for the candidate’s claims of business acumen.

Of course, to the extent that identity drivel is what the campaigns are dishing, a reporter can’t be blamed for reporting it. But one gets the overwhelming sense that Turque just doesn’t care about much else.

The outrage of this fluff piece is its treatment of Jamie Raskin, a clear leader in the race, based on fundraising, volunteers, and endorsements alone. Raskin runs leagues ahead of all the others in terms of legislative effectiveness (Barve and Gutierrez are the only other ones with legislative experience at all). If it were not for personal millions, Matthews and (new candidate) David Trone would hardly be irrelevant, and this might be a Raskin-Barve competition.

What did Turque have to say about Raskin? Just this: “Raskin . . . pledged to return any overdue books.” Huh? A man serves as a key leader in the MD legislature for years, is a constitutional scholar, and — at least in Takoma Park and Silver Spring — has more visibility in the race than anyone else, and that’s all Turque can find to say?

If this is what the Washington Post and Bill Turque call journalism, they should be as embarrassed as we are for them. Really, the only game in town for coverage of MoCo politics these days is the Seventh State blog. That’s where to turn for serious analysis, as opposed to bake-sale fluff.

PS. The photo accompanying the article features Jawando, includes six others, and (you got it) omits Raskin.

©2016 Keith Berner

06.15.14 Keith Berner’s Biennial Voters Guide/Primary 2014 (for Takoma Park & Silver Spring, MD)

June 15, 2014

Election Day is Tuesday, June 24. Early voting is underway now.

For a summary that lists my endorsements with minimal annotations, see: 06.11.14 Voters Guide 2014/Primary Edition Summary (for Takoma Park & Silver Spring, MD)

The theme this year is disappointment. Dear Reader, you will see in my commentary below just how unenthusiastic I am about most races and candidates this year. Where I think all the candidates in a race are bad news, I recommend voting against all of them by casting a write-in vote. In other races, I don’t actively oppose all the candidates, but can’t make myself recommend any, either. In those cases, I indicate “no endorsement.” I just can’t fathom how our progressive state and county can’t find more noble human beings and solid progressives to run for office.

In each race, I list candidates in my order of preference. An asterisk before the name indicates my endorsements.

For Maryland Governor

Write in “Mickey Mouse.”

It’s hard to believe that Maryland could not produce a single decent candidate for governor this year. Last year, I felt sorry for Virginia, with its choice between 13th-century theocrat Ken Cuccinelli and venal operative Terry McAuliffe. Well, now ’tis the season to pity poor Maryland.

Heather Mizeur, is an ego-driven politician for whom tactics replace principles. She’s a darling to many on the left this year for staking out positions that most of my readers will agree with. Everything Mizeur does is calculated, though (there’s not a genuine bone in her body). If she thought she could get more attention by running as a centrist, she’d do so in a minute (I dare you to ask her about her support for Lockheed-Martin tax breaks). Mizeur’s blind ambition is demonstrated by her twice abandoning her responsibilities as a public official. The first time was when she quit her two-year post as a city councilwoman in Takoma Park after a year. She had only run in the first place to burnish her credentials. She quit as soon as she thought she had gained enough attention to begin planning her next campaign. The second time was the past two years, when she nearly completely stopped showing up at events related to District 20, where she is still officially our delegate. In fact, her former “dream house” (as she called it) is sitting vacant in Takoma Park, while she spends most of her time at her other house on the Eastern Shore. She’s bored with D20, you see, and this little run for governor is just for her own amusement. I mean seriously, she can’t possibly think that a back bencher with few substantive accomplishments and with no executive experience of any kind is ready to run a state. And she has insulted voters by selecting as a running mate a Prince George’s County preacher who is even less qualified than she is. This race is not about anything other than being in the limelight. Don’t reward the insult by giving Mizeur your vote.

Anthony Brown is an empty shirt whose only significant public accomplishment was completely screwing up Maryland’s health care exchange. He has refused to take positions on controversial issues and has run a nearly completely negative campaign against Doug Gansler (who deserves it), while getting an advance coronation from the entire Maryland Democratic establishment. If this man is able to accomplish a single positive thing as governor, I’ll be surprised. He is currently leading both of his opponents by a 2-to-1 margin, so you might as well get used to him.

Doug Gansler is a frat boy who thinks he’s above the law. The Washington Post exposés last year about his abuse of state police and disregard for traffic laws reveal Gansler as a danger to the public interest. If he already behaves this way, who is to say where the impunity would stop if he were to have executive authority over the whole state? Even worse are Gansler’s right-wing policy positions. A fan of the death penalty, Gansler’s main platform plank this year is a tax cut for wealthy corporations and he hammers constantly on current governor Martin O’Malley’s highly responsible fiscal policies that included (gasp!) tax hikes. Who needs the GOP when you have this crap coming from Dems?

See also:

For Maryland Comptroller

Write in “Mickey Mouse.”

Peter Franchot (incumbent), who is running unopposed, is an arrogant man who long ago gave up on his Takoma Park progressive roots.

For Maryland Attorney General

*Brian Frosh is a principled progressive with a long record of accomplishments in the Maryland legislature. I often disagree with the Washington Post on local politics, but their re-endorsement of Frosh yesterday does more justice to Frosh (while highlighting the flaws of his opponents) than I can possible do. I encourage my readers to give it a close look.

Jon Cardin is best known for improperly commandeering a police helicopter to propose to his girlfriend and, more recently, for missing 121 out of 164 committee votes in the just closed 2014 legislative session. If this man’s uncle weren’t a US senator, he would’t be so much as blip on public radar. Because of his name, though, he could win this race, which would be a disaster for Maryland.

Aisha Braveboy is another 13-century theocrat opposed to gay rights, reproductive freedom, etc. She is now pretending never to have held those views. Yeah, right.

For US Congress – Maryland District 8

No endorsement.

Chris Van Hollen (incumbent) used to be my hero. No more. He lost me when he was among the bad guys on a House bill to rein in NSA spying that failed by only eight votes. Civil liberties are more important to me than nearly any other area of public policy. I cannot support anyone who loves the NSA. I know nothing about about Van Hollen’s two opponents in this race. Neither stands a chance, so you and I might as well flip a coin and vote for one of them to protest Van Hollen’s betrayal. Or, there’s always Mickey Mouse.

For Maryland Senate – District 20

*Jamie Raskin (incumbent) is running unopposed, so I don’t have to spill much virtual ink on him. Just the same, it’s fun to write that this budding national progressive hero is our very own. Raskin is a captivating orator, constitutional scholar, and progressive firebrand. He also knows how to reach out to and defang potential opponents (e.g., the very conservative senate majority leader, Mike Miller, with whom Raskin has a strong relationship) making Raskin not only a moral leader, but a highly effective one. Raskin is also just a great guy: accessible, down-to-earth, and humble. What’s not to love about Jamie?

For Maryland House of Delegates – District 20 (select up to three)

*Sheila Hixson (incumbent) used to be my favorite politician whom I didn’t vote for. She had a record of being disappointingly centrist, a go-along-to-get-along Democrat. This began to change with the disappearance of bad influence Ida Reuben and replacement by Jamie Raskin in 2006. Hixson realized just how progressive her constituents were and responded. She has built a powerful partnership with Raskin and they are quite the dynamic duo, helping each other pass progressive milestone legislation in their respective houses of the Maryland legislature. Hixson is one of the most powerful politicians in Maryland, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which makes her a rare treasure: How often do progressives get to have not only a representative voice for their views, but one that can deliver? And that partnership with Raskin is so much more than the sum of the parts. Any D20 progressive who doesn’t vote for Raskin and Hixson is a fool and a knave. Why was Hixson always a favorite of mine, even when I wasn’t voting for her? Because she (like Raskin) is another mensch — warm, engaging, and downright fun to be around.

*Jonathan Shurberg and I have known each other since we both worked on Raskin’s 2006 campaign. Talk about smart: Shurberg can discuss articulately the fine points of policy from economic justice, to civil rights, to education. He has spent lots of time in Annapolis writing and promoting legislation. He and his late wife, Rebecca, were major players in the county Democratic Party. My readers know I’m no huge fan of the party, but having elected officials who are plugged in and know everyone is a bonus. Shurberg will balance Will Smith’s inexperience. Last November, I described Shurberg as “the adult in the room” and “a passionate fighter for progressive causes.” I stand by those words.

*Will Smith is a born and bred Montgomery County resident. He is smart as a tack and itching to make a difference in the lives of D20 and Maryland residents. Smith has an impressive record of service in our district, having run Raskin and Hixson’s 2010 campaign, raising substantial funds for local young scholars, and serving with IMPACT Silver Spring and the local chapter of the NAACP. Smith is relatively inexperienced, but the fact that he knows the Annapolis players and has been endorsed by Raskin and Hixson is significant. I expect he’ll be able to hit the ground running, working with his mentors to make a mark in the House. As an African American, officer in the Naval Reserves, and the first in his family to graduate from college (and graduate school), Smith adds much-needed diversity to the D20 delegation. It is high time for this extremely diverse district to send a capable person of color to Annapolis.

Darian Unger was so amateurish at the November D20 forum, that I disregarded him completely in my write up of the event. He has come a long way, baby. I have been blown away by his ability to captivate the public and political observers with a grass-roots, pure elbow-grease campaign. His service as a volunteer firefighter and chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board shows his commitment to the community.  I particularly like Unger’s green credentials: an environmental engineer by trade, he lists “sustainable development and environmental protection” as his top priorities, the only candidate to do so.

David Moon matches Shurberg for smarts, knowledge, and probably has even greater encyclopedic knowledge of county and state politics. Moon is also a fighter — absolutely fearless about speaking truth to power. (I also know Moon from that first, magical Raskin campaign — as campaign manager, Moon gets credit for creating the strategy to beat Ida Reuben by a two-to-one margin.) There may be some concern that Moon’s record of truth telling would make it hard for him to work with the powers that be in Annapolis, but endorsements by Raskin and Hixson provide him with needed cover. If elected, Moon will make his presence felt very quickly.
So, why haven’t I ranked Moon second, just behind Sheila Hixson? Because of his longstanding ties to Valerie Ervin, perhaps the most destructive force in county politics. I believe Moon when he tells me that he won’t let Ervin tell him what to do if he’s elected. But the fact that his first campaign brochure put her picture and quote front and center, concerns me, as does his recent declaration to me that he considers Ervin among the most important local politicians. Make no mistake, Ervin plans to run for county executive, governor, or congress. I would hate to see one of my elected delegates endorsing her pursuit of power. Just the same, Moon looks likes like a winner in this race and I would shed no tears over this result.

Will Jawando deserved the apology I recently issued. He is not a bad guy, by any means. He’s smart, articulate, experienced with (federal) legislation, and — just like everyone else in the race — a solid progressive. But my strongest criticism of him remains valid: though he was born here, he has not provided any direct service to our district, unlike his fellow native Will Smith. If there weren’t so many more captivating choices, I could see getting really enthusiastic about Jawando. But in this fine field, he just doesn’t rise to the top.

See also:

For Montgomery County Executive

No endorsement.

Phil Andrews wins the integrity race easily. He is a class act of the boy scout variety, a politician who is in it for all the right reasons and cannot be bought. Sadly, Andrews has tacked right in the past four years. He was the lone council vote against raising he minimum wage and remains steadfast against indexing the wage to mitigate the impact of inflation. Some of my environmentalist friends are backing Andrews, but insiders tell me he has been less cooperative on land-use issues than he used to be. I had sent “dear neighbor” letters to my precinct in support of Andrews, but have come to regret it because I disagree with Andrews so strongly on key issues.

Ike Leggett (incumbent) is, at best, a big disappointment. I was an enthusiastic supporter when he first ran for executive in 2006, but his opposition to progressive state taxation on millionaires lost me a couple years later. Among the list of Leggett “foibles” is, of course, the misbegotten Silver Spring Transit Center, millions over budget, already more than two years late, and a potential danger to all who use it. Other items include tax breaks for Lockheed Martin, subsidies for Costco, and joyfully accepting bribes contributions from the development industry.

Doug Duncan’s toxic legacy from his tenure as county executive remains with us, in a county woefully short of infrastructure to match growth-without-thought and in our poisonous personal politics. While serving as front-man for the development industry, Duncan also oversaw unsustainable giveaways to MoCo’s public employee unions that worsened the fiscal crisis of 2008-12. Why return to office someone whose dream is to pave everything and enrich the powerful?

For Montgomery County Council – At Large (select up to four)

Marc Elrich and Beth Daly (vote for only two)If you cast a vote for any other candidates, you risk knocking Elrich or Daly into fifth place. That’s why I recommend “bullet voting” (selecting fewer than candidates than there are seats).

I recommend highly Bill Turque’s recent analysis of the MoCo at-large race in the Washington Post. Turque does an excellent job of showing who is in the developers’ pockets and who isn’t.

*Marc Elrich (incumbent) has been serving the public interest and society’s underdogs for decades. He has been the county council’s lone voice against unrestrained development, pointing out that what the other incumbents call “smart growth” is just rhetoric for more traffic on the roads, more school trailers, and more environmentally hazardous runoff from impervious surfaces. What is truly astounding is how Elrich has traveled from being the radical whose very name the Washington Post refused to mention to getting the Post’s endorsement for the second time in a row. Why? Because Elrich is more smart than ideological. His plan for bus rapid transit has won over the Post and even many developers (even while he refuses to accept the developers’ bribes contributions). Elrich is that rare politician who is 100% about public service, not personal glory. Even while he has enough respect to have come in first in the 2010 at-large race, though, he can’t get any respect from the rest of the council incumbents, who not only block him from formal leadership, but also prevent him from forcing discussion about their pave-it-all politics. If only there were some means to throw the rest of the incumbents out. Sadly, the best we can do is to toss one out (please, let it be Hans Riemer!) by putting Beth Daly in office.

*Beth Daly is the real deal: smarts, values, articulateness, and genuine warmth. Daly is as committed as Elrich to sensible land-use policies and protecting the environment. She promises a high level of transparency including (can you believe it?!) voting the same way on final legislation as she does in committee. She also promises to be a second when Elrich raises topics the other council incumbents want to bury and to champion a term for Elrich as president of the council. Daly is the most exciting newcomer to MoCo political campaigns since Jamie Raskin appeared in 2006. But she is no novice, having been an engaged and effective civic activist and creator of legislation for years (see her experience list).

George Leventhal (incumbent) is by far the second best of the incumbents. His constituent service is incredible and he has an admirable commitment to the disadvantaged. I keep wanting to endorse and vote for Leventhal, but I just can’t get there. This year, he’s attacking Marc Elrich and Beth Daly as he continues to serve the developers. Even if he weren’t playing this actively destructive role, it’s just far more important to have Elrich and Daly on the council than to keep Leventhal, so I cannot risk having my vote for him doom the others.

Nancy Floreen (incumbent) is 100% pro-developer, pro-chamber of commerce. At least what you see is what you get with Floreen, which can’t be said of . . .

. . . Hans Riemer (incumbent), who is a perpetual liar and deceiver, a carpetbagger who never belonged in our region’s politics to start with. He lives on taking credit for others’ work and claiming to support policies he doesn’t. The most egregious example of this was when he worked hard to kill last year’s minimum wage bill and then claimed to have led the fight for it. (Watch this must-see 30-second video showing Riemer holding back on the final vote for the minimum wage until he sees that it has the five votes necessary to pass.) He also says he’s an environmentalist, even while he gleefully takes money from the developers. Hans Riemer wins my 2014 award for Most Despicable Politician. This year’s MoCo voters owe future generations a service: stop Riemer’s political career right now, before rises through the ranks to become a lying empty shirt with actual power.

See also:

For Montgomery County Council – District 5

What hope I had when Destructive Force Valerie Ervin got bored with her seat on MoCo council and quit last winter! Sadly, my hopes have been dashed. This race is almost as bad as the one for governor, providing little hope at all for progressives who want good government.

*Terrill North is the only really good human being in the race. He is a solid progressive with experience in almost every area of policy we care about, from serving the poor, to environmentalism, to civil liberties. So why am I not more excited as I repeat my endorsement of North? Because his campaign has never seemed to get off the ground. He has no significant endorsements, beyond Progressive Neighbors (who also endorsed Tom Hucker for the seat). North is not going to win, so voting for him is more of a protest against the others than a practical choice. Sigh.

Tom Hucker is a bully and dirty campaigner. He has voted the correct way on nearly everything while serving as D20 delegate in Annapolis, but he is going to be wrong on everything involving public-employee unions if he serves on MoCo council. Just as most of the other council incumbents would be nowhere without developer money, the same goes for Hucker and the unions. My main concern about Hucker, though, is not about policy (again, he has a voting record any progressive would be proud of). Rather, it is that his bad temper and drive for dominance will eventually make him our very own Chris Christie, imploding and bringing his agenda (and ours) down with him. Hucker will win this race. I can only hope that the few of us speaking out about his flaws will bring about some introspection and humility on his part. If Hucker were to tame his demons, he could be an excellent progressive leader for years to come.

Evan Glass seemed to be the other good guy in the race (in addition to North) until his horrific mailer this week in which he granted himself magical powers to cure all that ails us. He has now shown himself to be just another ball of arrogance, willing to lie to his potential constituents to get a job. What’s amazing is that Glass slipped and revealed his inner truth when he had absolutely no reason do to so. He had already secured some plum endorsements and was running a solid campaign.

Chris Barclay is a petty thief who didn’t even live in the district until the past few weeks. He wouldn’t be wasting our ink and oxygen if Valerie Ervin and her Coalition that Only Cares about Color (Cherri Branson, Nancy Navarro, and Craig Rice) hadn’t foisted him upon us. (See my discussion of race in this race in my original endorsement of Terrill North, who is African American.) After being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Barclay lost the endorsements of the two largest MoCo public employee unions, so I can’t believe he remains a factor.

See also:

Other Races

In races I don’t follow closely, I’ll let Progressive Neighbors be my guide.

Not My District: Brief Comments on Races Beyond My Neighborhood

  • For Maryland Senate – District 18: *Dana Beyer is not shy. We can count on her to stand up and be counted in Annapolis. I have known and been fond of Beyer for a long time, but still wondered why she — as a transgender woman — was taking on Sen. Rich Madaleno, who championed passage of Maryland’s marriage equality law. The answer? Because Madaleno might as well be a Republican on fiscal policy. Beyer will be a progressive hero in Annapolis, showing us what has been missing from D18 up until now.
  • For Montgomery County Council – District 1: *Roger Berliner (incumbent). I’m not a big Berliner fan; though, he is better than most of the other council incumbents. What compels me to endorse him is just how bad Duchy Trachtenberg is. Her pursuit of personal attention has led her to ditch principle entirely this year, flip-flopping on issues that were previously central to her politics: standing up to developers and public employee unions. If you are still tempted to vote for Trachtenberg, see my recent post about her.
  • For Montgomery County Council – District 3: Marc Erlich’s choice in the race to succeed Phil Andrews is *Ryan Spiegel. Progressive Neighbors has endorsed Tom Moore, but I’m more inclined to follow Elrich’s determination of who can best support his agenda on council than I am any outside observers.

See also: 05.30.14 How your blogger chooses candidates to love (and hate)

©2014 Keith Berner

06.09.14 MD D20 Endorsements

June 9, 2014

I wrote recently that the Maryland District 20 race presents a dilemma of riches. The riches are wonderful: a bunch of candidates so compelling and progressive that we wish we could send them all to Annapolis. If only we could distribute them across the county — any one of them could be our first choice in other districts.

Alas, they all belong to D20. Which produces the agony of choosing only as many as we’re allowed to choose (three delegates) and having to say “no” to some really great people.

I have pondered and ruminated and considered and triangulated and studied the D20 delegate candidates for months (since their first forum in November, to be more precise). Only yesterday did I finally decide what I would write here.

You will notice that I don’t discuss policy very much in what follows. That is because there isn’t a centimeter of daylight between any of these candidates on the issues progressives care about. What distinguishes them from each other is largely experience, potential effectiveness, and style.

So, without further ado, here is a rank-order listing of my candidate preferences, with my endorsements in bold.

For Senator

Jamie Raskin is running unopposed, so I don’t have to spill much virtual ink on him. Just the same, it’s fun to write that this budding national progressive hero is our very own. Raskin is a captivating orator, constitutional scholar, and progressive firebrand. He also knows how to reach out to and defang potential opponents (e.g., the very conservative senate majority leader, Mike Miller, with whom Raskin has a strong relationship) making Raskin not only a moral leader, but a highly effective one. Raskin is also just a great guy; accessible, down-to-earth, humble. What’s not to love about Jamie?!

For Delegate (in preference order – select up to three)

Sheila Hixson used to be my favorite politician whom I didn’t vote for. She had a record of being disappointingly centrist, a go-along-to-get-along Democrat. This began to change with the disappearance of bad influence Ida Reuben and replacement by Jamie Raskin in 2006. Hixson began to realize just how progressive her constituents are and responded. She built a powerful partnership with Raskin and they are quite the dynamic duo, helping each other pass progressive milestone legislation in their respective houses of the Maryland legislature. Talk about power: Hixson is one of the most powerful politicians in Maryland, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. She is a treasure: how often to progressives get to have not only a representative voice for their views, but one that can deliver. And that partnership with Raskin is so much more than the sum of the parts. Any D20 progressive who doesn’t vote for Raskin and Hixson is a fool and a knave. Why was Hixson always a favorite of mine, even when I wasn’t voting for her? Because she (like Raskin) is another mensch — she is warm, engaging, and downright fun.

Will Smith is a born and bred Montgomery County resident. He is smart as a tack and itching to make a difference in the lives of D20 and Maryland residents. Smith has an impressive record of service in our district, having run Raskin and Hixson’s 2010 campaign, raising substantial funds for local young scholars, and serving with IMPACT Silver Spring and the local chapter of the NAACP. Smith is relatively green (inexperienced), but the fact that he knows the Annapolis players and has been endorsed by Raskin and Hixson is significant. I expect he’ll be able to hit the ground running, working with his mentors to make a mark in the house. As an African American, officer in the Naval Reserves, and the first in his family to graduate from college (and graduate school), Smith adds much-needed diversity to the D20 delegation. It is high time for this highly diverse district to send a highly capable person of color to represent us in Annapolis.

Jonathan Shurberg and I have known each other since we both worked on Raskin’s 2006 campaign. Talk about smart: Shurberg can discuss articulately the fine points of policy from economic justice, to civil rights, to education. He has spent lots of time in Annapolis writing and promoting legislation. He and his late wife, Rebecca, were major players in the county Democratic Party. My readers know I’m no huge fan of the party, but having elected officials who are plugged in and know everyone is a bonus. Shurberg will balance Smith’s relative green-ness. Last November, I described Shurberg as “the adult in the room” and “a passionate fighter for progressive causes.” I stand by those words.

Darian Unger was so amateurish at the November D20 forum, that I disregarded him completely in my write up of the event. He has come a long way, baby. I have been blown away by his ability to captivate the public and political observers with a grass-roots, pure elbow-grease campaign. His service as a volunteer firefighter and chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board shows his commitment to the community.  I particularly like Unger’s green credentials: an environmental engineer by trade, he lists “sustainable development and environmental protection” as his top priorities.
Unger’s mail campaign stands out as the most creative in the race. With limited funds, he has sent out three smallish postcards. The first two were unusual by being useful: one contained recycling tips, the other was about fire safety. The last card proudly proclaims: “The BIGGEST postcard he can afford. Big ideas, not deep pockets.” I just love this creativity and willingness to take a different tack from the crowd. Unger has, of course, eschewed cooperate contributions. Yet, this quirky progressive is the only candidate in the race to be endorsed by the hyper-corporate Washington Post and Montgomery Gazette. If Unger can get these folks on board, maybe he can overcome his Annapolis inexperience help build effective coalitions. Not picking Unger in my top three was a very tough call. I would shed no tears if he’s elected.

David Moon matches Shurberg for smarts, knowledge, and probably has even greater encyclopedic knowledge of county and state politics. Moon is also a fighter — absolutely fearless about speaking truth to power. (I also know Moon from that first, magical Raskin campaign — as campaign manager, Moon gets credit for creating the strategy to bury Ida Reuben by a two-to-one margin.) There may be some concern that Moon’s record of truth telling would make it hard for him to work with the powers that be in Annapolis, but endorsements by Raskin and Hixson provide him with needed cover. If elected, Moon will make his presence felt, very quickly.
So, why haven’t I ranked Moon second, just behind Sheila Hixson? Because of his longstanding ties to Valerie Ervin, one of the most destructive forces in county politics. I believe Moon when he tells me that he won’t let Ervin (or anyone else) tell him what to do if he’s elected. But the fact that his first brochure of this race put her picture and quote front and center, concerns me, as does his recent declaration to me that he considers Ervin among the most important local politicians to work with. Make no mistake, Ervin plans to run for county executive or governor or congress. I would hate to see one of my elected delegates endorsing her pursuit of power. Just the same, Moon looks likes like a winner in this race and I also wouldn’t shed tears over this result.

Will Jawando deserved the apology I recently issued. He is not a bad guy, by any means. He’s smart, articulate, experienced with (federal) legislation, and — just like everyone else in the race — a solid progressive. But my strongest criticism of him remains valid: though he was born here, he has not provided any direct service to our district, unlike his fellow native Will Smith. If there weren’t so many more captivating choices, I could see getting really enthusiastic about Jawando. But in this fine field, he just does not rise to the top.

D’Juan Hopewell is another great guy with a passion for making a difference. The couple of hours I spent with him a few months ago were as enjoyable as any I have spent with a candidate. Just the same, I feel like he is searching for his calling in life and that this campaign is more of an experiment than a commitment. Also, he is nearly invisible in the race, meaning that there is no way his campaign is viable.

Justin Chappell is the only disabled candidate in the race. I was unable to find a Chappell website via an internet search, which shows how unserious his campaign is.


George Zokle was completely unimpressive in that November forum and invisible since.

©2014 Keith Berner

 

 

05.29.14 Chris Barclay brings a little PG to MoCo

May 29, 2014

Thanks to WJLA-TV and the Washington Post for revealing that Montgomery County School Board Chair and County Council D5 candidate Christopher Barclay has repeatedly used his School Board credit card for personal expenses. Yeah, Barclay has paid back the money, but (of course) didn’t do so until he got caught.

We’re familiar with venal politics in Prince George’s County and DC. So far, we have been spared this kind of financial scandal in MoCo (at least in recent memory). For me, stealing public money is an unpardonable offense, even for an otherwise worthy candidate. But, there is really nothing redeeming about Barclay’s campaign, even looking beyond petty theft. From his campaign manager’s being caught snooping in opponent Tom Hucker’s office to the fact that Barclay hasn’t even been living in D5, where’s the case for him? (As I have previously written, MD law requires residency only by election day. Do any readers know if Barclay now has an address that qualifies? Has anyone actually seen him living there?) If Valerie Ervin and her Coalition that Only Cares about Color (Cherri Branson, Nancy Navarro, and Craig Rice) weren’t backing Barclay, would he be even be on our radar screens?

Don’t vote for Christopher Barclay. Let’s keep MoCo (somewhat) clean.

©2014 Keith Berner

 

05.24.14 Apologies to Will Jawando

May 24, 2014

I guess this is Will Jawando week at Left-Hand View. After my harsh criticism of him in three posts, Jawando dropped me a note asking if we could meet one-on-one. I admired his doing that immediately: I think most politicians (and most people) would have avoided me like the plague or wanted to beat the crap out of me. Anyway, I invited him to my house a couple of days ago and we spent an hour together.

Jawando denies categorically having bad-mouthed Sheila Hixson. I take this denial at face value.

I also learned that Jawando is far from an empty shirt. He has an inspiring personal story and has been working hard on real and necessary progressive politics for several years, as a staffer to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, among others. He is clearly driven by a desire to make the world a better place, just like most (all?) of the others running for D20 delegate.

Ambitious? Well, I certainly have more of a feeling about Jawando that he is interested in political advancement than I do from Darian Unger, for example. But there is no evidence that Jawando is inclined to abandon his commitment to his constituents, if elected, like Heather Mizeur and Valerie Ervin have done. Most politicians are ambitious. It is a matter of degree and I no longer have the feeling that Jawando is over the line.

Your blogger has learned some valuable lessons here:

  • When Jawando first rubbed me the wrong way last fall, it was my responsibility to seek him out, not his to seek me out. I should have checked my impressions with the candidate, rather than simply running with them.
  • It’s no secret that I loathe Valerie Ervin and her destructive influence on our region’s politics. But I need to stop blaming the the recipients of her endorsements for her flaws. There is no denying that her endorsement is a negative mark in my appraisal of anyone, but it is not fair for me to let that be the whole story. And I think there is a big difference between accepting Ervin’s endorsement (as Jawando has done) and putting her front and center in the campaign (as David Moon has done).
  • I need to avoid most (not all) name calling. I never should have called Jawando stupid (which I did in the first version of my May 17 post). It is ok for me to call actions stupid, but not people. (I reserve the right to call some politicians by names that fit.)

So, am I ready to endorse Will Jawando? No. I have sharply revised my view of him — he seems to be a good man who is running for the right reasons —  but I still think he has done less work on the ground here in D20 than other candidates and that he is certainly on the green (as in inexperienced) side of the field in terms of knowing Maryland issues, processes, and people.

I wish Will Jawando the best in this race and in the future. I am glad he reached out to me: it was classy and courageous.

Dear Readers, your blogger cannot promise to be right all the time. He can and does promise to be willing to admit when he’s wrong.

©2014 Keith Berner