Council Veep Contest Underway in MoCo
While all eyes were fixed on the national presidential election, another presidential campaign of sorts has been underway in Montgomery County.
Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), the current vice president, is slated to take over as County Council president from Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) next month.
But the question of who will become vice president, in line to succeed Andrews in 2010, has been playing out in recent weeks. Vying for the job were council members Roger Berliner (D-Potomac-Bethesda), Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) and Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large).
Council members said privately that Berliner, who began campaigning for the job soon after taking office, has locked up the votes.
"There is a rumor to that effect," he said coyly.
Trachtenberg said that she, Andrews and Berliner had agreed in a series of conversations to an order of succession in which she would become president in 2011. Trachtenberg said the three share an interest in "good government and fiscal accountability."
But some council members do not appear ready to commit to candidates beyond the 2010 election, when the makeup of the council could change.
"Why should our council determine for another council who their leadership should be?" asked council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring). "I don't want to go that far."
The job of the council president is largely ceremonial and the power primarily symbolic.
But the position quickly gives the elected official a higher profile countywide.
Berliner, an energy lawyer, came to the council in 2006 in the closest of the five geographic council district contests. He ousted the council's only Republican, Howie Denis, with 56 percent of the vote, becoming the first Democrat to represent the district.
As a candidate, Berliner said, his party affiliation would allow him to take on a greater leadership role for his constituents, and he said this week that his elevation to vice president would fulfill that campaign pledge.
"I believe I can be an effective leader for our council and have demonstrated that I can pull people together," Berliner said.
Knapp will run two more meetings before turning over the presidential post to Andrews after a formal vote Dec..2.
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