Together, Adam Pagnucco and I put a short list of seven questions to the candidates for county executive. We’re grateful that all four have taken the time to respond thoughtfully and in detail.
Unlike interest groups that ask candidates to fill out questionnaires in the hope of garnering an endorsement, our purpose here is a combination of allowing each candidate to better introduce himself and his priorities to you along with questions regarding a selection of issues facing the county we regard as important.
We found their answers illuminating and hope you do too. Today, we start with Councilmember Roger Berliner’s (D-1) response to our first question:
What was your most important achievement in your current or past office? How do you think it demonstrates your leadership ability?
I think my single most important achievement in office has been keeping your lights on.
Pepco was one of the most unreliable utilities in the country. Our power would go out for days at a time – during storms and even on “sunny days”. Lives were at risk. Those who could afford it bought back-up generators so they could keep their lights on. Most of us simply suffered. It was totally unacceptable.
I led our county in asking for a state investigation of Pepco. The state regulators at the Maryland Public Service Commission have 100% control over Pepco. The state granted our request. During the course of that investigation, we learned for the first time that in terms of reliability, Pepco had been in the lowest quartile nationally for five years in a row. When I asked whether Pepco would be held responsible, the regulators said that Maryland didn’t have reliability standards so how could Pepco be punished?
I was not satisfied with that answer. I researched laws in other states, drafted state legislation and shared it with the Governor and legislative leaders. Under the leadership of now-Senator Feldman, the legislature passed a law that has made Pepco financially accountable for its reliability. And guess what? Pepco has gotten better. Our power does not go out nearly as much. That makes your lives so much better.
I think what this demonstrates about my leadership is that I fight for consumers; that I am not afraid to take on powerful interests; that I roll up my sleeves and do the nitty gritty work necessary to be effective; that I am able to work collaboratively with our state officials to get things done when they are beyond our county’s ability to do so on our own; and that I have a track record of improving the day-to-day quality of life of Montgomery County residents, which is what a County Executive should do.