I met Bob Fustero for the first time in 2006, after a candidates’ forum for county executive. I had only started Just Up the Pike a few weeks earlier; I was 18, and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do and to find my “voice.” I didn’t know a lot about the candidates, and I assumed they were all pretty important and unapproachable.

Yet somehow, I ended up joking around with Bob and Robin Ficker, another perennial candidate, who told me about their long history together in county politics. That’s when Bob asked me about, of all things, a post I’d written about the “emo kids” who hung out in downtown Silver Spring.

“At first, I didn’t know what you were talking about,” he said. “Brian Eno, the musician? Maybe these kids were followers of him? I didn’t know. So I asked my niece, and she showed me one of those ‘How to Become Emo’ Web sites. Now I’m really confused. I gotta find these emo kids.”

That’s what I appreciated about Bob: He was known for strong opinions, but he also didn’t take himself seriously, and he was willing to talk to anyone about almost anything. It’s that humility and willingness to listen that got him 20 percent of the vote in the 2002 Democratic primary for governor despite a budget of just $600, very few campaign appearances and a running-mate who was once homeless.

Bob was a frequent and prolific commenter on JUTP for several years. He reminisced about drinking from Sligo Creek as a kidgave restaurant recommendations in Wheaton and talked about the difficulties of being poor or working class in an increasingly expensive county. We didn’t always agree, but we were friendly toward one another, and I was always glad to read what he had to say.

[Continue reading Dan Reed’s post here at Just Up the Pike.]

Dan Reed blogs at Just Up the Pike. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.