2017 | Politics

Montgomery County Executive Candidates Show a Lighter Side During Debate

They answered questions about their ideal barbecue and what they'd do with free time on a Saturday afternoon

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The four Democratic candidates currently running for Montgomery County executive include Del. Bill Frick, top left, and County Council members Roger Berliner, top right, George Leventhal, bottom left, and Marc Elrich, bottom right

Provided and Bethesda Beat file photos

This story was updated at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 19 to correct the spelling of Marc Elrich's last name in one reference.

If you ever wondered what a barbecue would be like hosted by County Council members Marc Elrich, Roger Berliner, George Leventhal or Del. Bill Frick, you now have an answer.

The four Democratic county executive candidates answered a question Monday night about what they’d serve and drink and what music they’d listen to, as well as who they’d invite to their barbecue.

The question was one of two light-hearted inquiries that moderator Brian Karem sprinkled in during a Montgomery County Sentinel debate that mostly focused on serious policy questions such as minimum wage and public safety.

Berliner, a North Bethesda resident, said he’d barbecue ribeyes—rare—and would drink a vodka martini “up, dry, with extra olives.” He’d be listening to jazz musician Bill Evans and enjoying the company of his wife, Karen Berliner.

Elrich, of Takoma Park, said he’d prepare ribs, blanched, then grilled with a dry rub and finished with sweet, tangy barbecue sauce. He’d drink either a Dark and Stormy or a Moscow Mule and would invite his “coolest friends who can sit around and have serious political discussions.” He’d listen to music by either the Grateful Dead or Little Feat.

Frick said he’d be making a coffee rub flank steak. The Bethesda resident said he definitely wouldn’t be making chicken kebabs. His wife, Bethany, buys them and he makes a disaster out of them, which results in him having to separate them.

“Why even have kebabs in the first place?” he wondered.

The delegate would be drinking a Flying Dog lager or some other local craft brew. He noted that he has no control over the music in his household. That responsibility belongs to his wife and two children. His neighbors and his children’s friends and their parents would be invited to the event.

“They’d come when my wife invites them,” Frick said, eliciting some laughs. “They don’t really know who I am.”

Leventhal said he and his wife, Soraia, would invite their large extended family near their Takoma Park home. He’d grill picanha steaks using the Brazilian churrasco method—“it’s very tender and tasty with rock salt and pepper”—and listen to Brazilian music. He added that his wife and their son Daniel are  vegans, so a lot of grilled vegetables would be on the menu, as well. He’d drink a local craft beer either from Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring or 3 Stars Brewing Co. in the Takoma neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

“I would enjoy being invited to any of ya’ll’s barbecues,” Leventhal also said, generating laughs from the other candidates and the audience.

Near the end of the debate, Karem also asked them about what they’d do if they had an hour to themselves on a Saturday afternoon, to relax.

“This is a ‘get to know the candidate’ question,” Karem said. “This has nothing to do with politics. Please don’t make it such.”

Leventhal said he’d spend time with his family. Karem reminded him the question was about what he would do on his own.

“Oh, I’d watch ‘The Walking Dead,’” Leventhal responded.

“You binge watch it?” Karem asked.

“No, it only comes on one episode at a time. I’m already current,” Leventhal said, referring to the weekly episode release schedule by AMC Networks, which airs the show. Leventhal’s dead-pan delivery drew perhaps the loudest laughs of the night.

Berliner said he’s a nature guy and fly fisherman, so he’d be in a stream somewhere fishing for trout.

Elrich said he would read things he doesn’t normally get to read—such as science and history articles.

Frick noted that as a state delegate and attorney at a Washington, D.C., law firm—as well as a husband and father of two children—who is running for office, he rarely gets an hour alone on a Saturday.

“If it’s a Saturday afternoon, I’d definitely try to sneak in some college football, but the premise is totally absurd,” Frick said.