Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meeting and Greeting Kyle Lierman

By Marc Korman.

“Campaign kick-offs” are all the rage this election season, but District 16 Delegate contender Kyle Lierman decided to forego that and held a meet and greet for his first public event.

Lierman was fortunate to have an impressive array of District 16 activists organize the affair for him, led by Somerset resident Lucy Freeman. Lucy Freeman was the Montgomery County Democratic Party Precinct Official of the Year and she showed why by helping to pack in about 60 people to hear from Lierman. Among those present were incumbent Delegates Bill Frick and Susan Lee and Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg. Trachtenberg officially endorsed Lierman.

The hostess introduced Lierman, charting her relationship with him to his work in Northern Virginia for the Obama campaign in 2008. When she heard he was running for Delegate, she met with him to ask a few questions and walked away convinced.

Lierman spoke, mixing a heavy dose of humor into his stump speech before taking questions. He acknowledged that the first question he always received was “how old are you?” He told the audience that at 23 years old he was between Ben Cardin (age 22) and Steny Hoyer (age 27) when they were first elected to the Maryland legislature. Lierman then addressed the second question he always receives, “what experience do you have?” He used that to pivot to problems in Annapolis where lots of experienced people gather and still lobbyists have more power than legislators.

That said, Lierman also acknowledged that his parents were in the audience and they had been bringing him to political events since he was 2 or 3, so he had about twenty years of experience. His father is Terry Lierman, Chief of Staff to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, former Maryland Democratic Party Chair and 2000 Democratic nominee in the 8th Congressional district. His mother, Connie Lierman, is an active Democrat as well and serving as campaign chair.

Lierman gave a brief bio, charting his course from Montgomery County Public Schools, to college, to the Obama campaign, to the transition team (where he focused on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal Elections Commission, and Election Assistance Commission) and back to college before starting his run for the House of Delegates. He said he was running because Maryland was a progressive state that can do better.

He listed six issues of focus: raising the alcohol tax to assist developmental disabilities programs, interlock ignitions for drunk drivers, further improving schools where even in Montgomery County 1 out of 5 do not graduate, improving the environment with provisions such as a bag fee, supporting transit, and his own campaign which he emphasized was important because “how you get there” matters, emulating President Obama’s own emphasis on getting more people involved and running a clean race. He also announced he was not taking any contributions from state or federal lobbyists. Lierman later told me he was also not going to take donations from PACs.

Four questions were asked before the event ended. The first was on Medicaid and why New York provided more services than Maryland. The second was about creating livable communities for seniors, which brought to my mind District 16’s own Burning Tree Village. The third was about special interests dominating even our engaged and educated community, with the questioner highlighting the Washington Post’s editorial comparison of Montgomery County and Fairfax County. The final question was about helping our libraries, which were cut 25% by the County Council.

To all of these questions, Lierman pledged to look and learn as his campaign moved forward.

Full disclosure, I am a Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee member from District 16. I have not endorsed Kyle Lierman or any other challenger.