Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner on Wednesday became the third council incumbent to enter the 2018 county executive’s race, promising to bring a progressive and pragmatic approach to the job of running Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction.
Berliner, 66, said he would work to bridge disparities between the east and west regions of the county and expand access to mass transit, education and economic opportunity.
“We are consistently ranked as one of the finest places in the country to live,” he told supporters during a kickoff event in North Bethesda. “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 a potential that has yet to be tapped.”
Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda) joins council members Marc Elrich (D-At Large) and George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) in next year’s Democratic primary. Other possible candidates include wine executive David Trone, former council member Mike Knapp and Del. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery). The lone Republican candidate to announce is longtime activist Robin Ficker.
Elrich, Leventhal and Berliner are barred from running for reelection to the council because of the three-term limit approved by voters in November. Incumbent executive Isiah Leggett (D), also in his third term, is retiring. Ficker led the campaign for the term limits charter amendment.
Berliner said Wednesday that he would not participate in the county’s new taxpayer-funded campaign finance system. Elrich and Leventhal have committed to gathering several hundred small, individual contributions apiece to qualify for public matching funds.
Berliner said he has been a strong supporter of the public system but thinks that it might not enable him to produce the money he needs to get himself known outside his district.
“I’m running against people who’ve been on the ballot countywide four, five, six times,” Berliner said, referring to Elrich and Leventhal. “I need to go out and get my name in front of people who haven’t heard of Roger Berliner. So that takes more resources.”