Bethesda Beat: Berliner, Other Local Candidates Receive Sierra Club Endorsements

Environmental group revealed Monday who it is supporting in Montgomery County races

BY ANDREW METCALF

Published: 2018.01.29 11:18

The Sierra Club endorsed Roger Berliner for Montgomery County executive on Monday.

The local chapter of the national environmental group is backing Berliner, the current District 1 County Council member, against five other Democrats in the 2018 race.

Berliner previously received the group’s endorsement in his 2014 District 1 County Council race against Duchy Trachtenberg.

Berliner’s environmental record on the council includes pushing through a resolution asking the county’s pension funds to divest from fossil fuel stocks, requiring the county to purchase renewable electric power and leading the creation of a county “Green Bank” to finance and support clean energy projects.

The Sierra Club, which counts about 6,000 members in the county, also announced other endorsements in local races.

In the crowded at-large County Council race, the Sierra Club endorsed incumbent Hans Riemer, Gandhi Brigade Youth Media Director Evan Glass, Silver Spring attorney Will Jawando and science consultant Danielle Meitiv. All four are Democrats.

Riemer, Glass, Jawando and Meitiv are running for the four at-large seats in the 2018 election in a field of more than 25 candidates.

“We are excited about the prospects of our endorsed candidates focusing their skills, experience, and knowledge on making our county a national model for how local governments address the climate emergency facing our planet,” Dave Sears, chair of the Montgomery County group of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

The group’s backing is seen as one of the most important local endorsements in the county along with that of the county’s teachers’ union, The Washington Post and local unions SEIU Local 500 and UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO.

The Sierra Club also endorsed challenger Ben Shnider, a former political director at the Israel advocacy organization J Street, over incumbent Sidney Katz in the District 3 council race.

District 4 council incumbent Nancy Navarro and District 5 incumbent Tom Hucker also received the group’s backing. Both Democrats are running unopposed.

The Sierra Club did not announce an endorsement for the District 1 council seat, which the incumbent, Berliner, must give up due to term limits.

Michal Freedman, vice chair of the county’s Sierra Club, said Monday the group thought there were several strong candidates running for the District 1 seat and “after much deliberation” decided not to endorse a candidate in that race.

Freedman said the group sent questionnaires to candidates and then an interview team further questioned candidates before the group decided on endorsements.

The teachers’ union, Post and MCGEO have not made endorsements yet in local races. Angie Ardis, political director for the Montgomery County Education Association, said in an email Thursday the union is scheduled to begin the candidate endorsement process in early March. Gino Renne, MCGEO’s president, said last week the union is working through their local endorsement process.

Berliner is running for the Democratic nomination for county executive against council members Marc Elrich and George Leventhal, Del. Bill Frick (D-Bethesda), former Planning Department Deputy Director Rose Krasnow and Potomac businessman David Blair. The primary is June 26.

 

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Ben Shnider