Trachtenberg said challenge to Berliner in Montgomery District 1 is no ‘grudge match’

February 26

In June 2010, then-Montgomery County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large) put out a statement endorsing her District 1 colleague Roger Berliner.

“Roger Berliner has represented the residents of District 1 in an effective and thoughtful manner,” she said. “Roger has worked with me on a number of important social initiatives and has shown himself to be a compassionate and hard-working advocate for families, seniors and women. His wisdom and good judgment are recognized by both his colleagues and constituents alike.”

Two months later, Berliner endorsed one of Trachtenberg’s at-large challengers, newcomer Hans Riemer.

At an August 2010 campaign event, Berliner praised at-large members Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, then touted Riemer’s “great grace” and “positive energy.”

“On the council we could stand a little more positive energy,” Berliner said. His message was clear. It was no secret that Trachtenberg had alienated some colleagues with sharp elbows and harsh words.

She was furious with what she regarded as Berliner’s betrayal, political insiders said. Riemer finished second among the top four vote-getters for the four countywide seats. Trachtenberg came in fifth. There were certainly other reasons Trachtenberg lost. Her opposition to pay raises she regarded as unsustainable made her a target for the county’s influential public employee unions.

She says her candidacy for the District 1 Montgomery County Council seat is no “grudge match” against Berliner, as Wednesday morning’s story suggested.

“I never even considered that,” Trachtenberg said. “That’s a categorical no.”

Since the 2010 loss, Trachtenberg has looked at several possible paths back into office. She withdrew from the 2012 6th Congressional District Democratic primary after a recurrence of breast cancer (she says she’s in good health now). She eyed the seat again this year when it looked like Rep. John Delaney was going to jump into the governor’s race.

She also scrutinized a possible return to an at-large council seat before settling on a run in her own back yard of District 1, which runs along the county’s western edge and includes some of its most prosperous communities.

“It’s where I’ve raised my kids and worked,” she said.

Trachtenberg deflected questions about Berliner or how she plans to make the case for unseating him. She said only that much has changed since 2010.

“I did endorse him and supported him,” she said in an e-mail Wednesday. “I trusted he would do a good job but he hasn’t and it’s time for a change. That’s certainly what the community is telling me.”

Looking back on her last council stint, Trachtenberg said she’s proudest of her work on opening the Family Justice Center, which provides legal and counseling services around domestic violence issues. Trachtenberg has worked as a family therapist.

Berliner’s record includes advocacy for utility reform, bus rapid transit and a recently introduced package of 13 environmental and energy bills designed to address the consequences of climate change.

“I’m proud of my work on behalf of District 1 and I look forward to a vigorous campaign,” Berliner said. “I feel that I have a demonstrated capacity to build consensus and have gone about my work in a civil way.”

Trachtenberg enters the race with a solid financial edge over Berliner, sitting on a $122,000 balance, according to state reports. Her filings show payments to political strategist Joe Trippi and pollster Celinda Lake.

Berliner, who was unopposed in the June primary until Tuesday, shows $52,000 cash on hand, with just a single $200 contribution in 2013.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.
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