Montgomery County Councilman Hans Riemer (D) announced his plans to run for county executive Tuesday, framing himself as a more progressive alternative to current Democratic contenders.
Riemer, who has previously clashed with incumbent Marc B. Elrich (D) over economic policy, said in an interview that Montgomery County needs “progressive leadership that is effective and forward-thinking.”
Key issues to Riemer’s campaign will include promoting economic development while also investing in affordable housing, improving education, pursuing progressive climate policies and police reform, and finishing the Purple Line.
The county executive has a “huge impact” in terms of executing those policies, Riemer said.
“We’ve got to not get stuck in old ways,” Riemer said. “I think the county executive can be a leader for the county who sets the tone and sets the pace for our community. I think that’s what we need, that’s kind of what we’re lacking.”
Riemer is in his third term on the county council and is term-limited, but he said that isn’t the reason he’s making a county executive bid.
“If I thought our executive was doing a great job, I wouldn’t run,” Riemer said.
Also in the race is David Blair, a businessman and philanthropist who lost to Elrich by a razor-thin margin in the 2018 Democratic primary. Blair has centered his campaign around using his business acumen to help the county recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
That system requires candidates to refuse contributions from “any group or organization including a political action committee, a corporation, a labor organization or a State or local central action committee of a political party” in order to receive public match funding on smaller donations from residents, according to the county’s website.
“Independence from special interests, I think, is a big part of my appeal,” Riemer said. “There’s not going to be any special interests running big campaigns trying to get me elected here.”
Riemer added that he feels like an “underdog” in the race, but hopes his county council track record will help him appeal to a wide range of voters.
Riemer is one of three term-limited county council members: Nancy Navarro (D) and Craig Rice (D) are also serving their third and final terms. Navarro said in an interview that she is “evaluating a couple of options” for what to do after her term expires, but said she isn’t ready to announce any plans yet.
Rice did not immediately return a request for comment.
(Disclosure: The Blair Family Foundation is a financial supporter of Maryland Matters.)