Council Member Hans Riemer. Credit: File Photo

This story was updated at 10:45 a.m. on June 2, 2021, to include comment from County Executive Marc Elrich. 

Montgomery County Council Member Hans Riemer announced Tuesday that he is running for county executive.

Riemer, 48, in his third term as a council member, is term-limited, unable to run for re-election. 

He previously said he was heavily considering a run for Montgomery County’s top elected office. In an interview, Riemer said the county executive sets the “general tone” for the community and he believes he is a progressive, forward-thinking candidate.

He will take on incumbent County Executive Marc Elrich, who is seeking a second term.

The Democratic primary also will include David Blair, a businessman and philanthropist who lost to Elrich by 77 votes in the 2018 Democratic primary. 

“I think a great executive can bring very creative people together. … We need to move on from the politics of the past, and we need to bring energy and enthusiasm,” Riemer said. “This has been a feeling for many years, that the county needs more dynamic leadership that is taking us where we need to go. … It’s not just because I think the county executive isn’t getting it done now; it’s that I think we can do a lot better.”

Riemer has represented the entire county as an at-large council member since 2010.

He’s been critical of Elrich on several issues in recent months, including a proposal to single-track the Purple Line in a downtown Bethesda tunnel and keeping libraries closed despite coronavirus health metrics improving countywide.

Elrich and Riemer have also argued about ways to provide more affordable housing and how to best test residents for the coronavirus, among other issues.

Elrich said in an interview he wasn’t surprised of Riemer’s decision.

He noted that he and Riemer served together for eight years on the County Council. He added that Riemer was part of a voting bloc that approved several rezoning cases to try to spur job growth in the county, but was unsuccessful.

“We’ve gone from talking about zoning to, what is going to get businesses to want to come here? … We voted differently on some of those critical decisions and his view did not produce … for a guy who prevailed on the critical zoning decisions, he didn’t produce what he said we are going to produce,” Elrich said about his track record and those prior rezoning votes.

Riemer, who lives in Takoma Park, is a native of Oakland, Calif. He worked closely on former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, including as National Youth Vote Director and political director for Rock the Vote, aimed at increasing turnout among younger votes. 

Riemer’s legislative work on the County Council has covered areas such as affordable housing, changes to police policy, transportation and environmental issues, among many others. He’s drawn the wrath of county labor unions for some of his positions, including for voting against giving county employees raises last year

He said increasing the amount of affordable housing, smart development along major transit corridors like the Purple Line and Rockville Pike, workforce development, police reform and combatting climate change are some major issues he would focus on immediately if elected.

“I’ve got a track record that Democrats can really sink their teeth into. … I’m certainly very proud of the work I’ve done, and I think it should give people confidence,” Riemer said.

Riemer, a married father of two boys, will face Elrich and Blair in the Democratic primary on June 28, 2022.

Council Member Craig Rice, who is also term-limited, previously said he’s also considering running for county executive.

The filing deadline for the 2022 primary is Feb. 22.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com