click here for a photo of Hans and myself eating pho
Just Up The Pike has been in existence for roughly a month now, so I was more than surprised to get an e-mail from County Council candidate Hans Riemer a couple of weeks ago saying that he was interested in the blog and wanted to meet for a drink sometime. I don't drink [when I want to remember what happened the night before], so I suggested we have dinner instead.
I met Hans at Ceviche in Downtown Silver Spring, making his way through a mixed drink after a long night of campaigning with Patrick Higgins, owner of Jackie's, which I still have yet to eat at. Patrick asked me a few questions about blogging, especially about the lack of editorial control. I can't say that I'm always going to be objective - in fact, that's not my goal. I will be honest; unfortunately, the truth can be partisan.
After a few minutes in the bar, Hans and I left for Pho Hiep Hoa next door, where we hashed out the sorry state of the County over Vietnamese soup and fried rice for an hour and a half. He's an instantly likeable guy - friendly, inquisitive, and passionate, despite the fact he was exhausted from a day of knocking on doors and meeting voters. It's that zeal, I think, that helped him register a million voters through Rock The Vote and sets him apart from Valerie Ervin, who has the luxury of name recognition and hasn't pounded the pavement as much.
Coming from the progressive Bay Area, Hans was quick to call out "poseur progressives" or "limousine liberals" as what they are, and openly wonder: "what happened to pushing for change, looking towards the future?" with an idealism that's rarely seen in Montgomery County today. He spoke of an interest in architecture that translates into an appreciation of urbanism and what makes a place like Silver Spring so great. Naturally, his first question to me was about the Death Star which, like so many local holes-in-the-wall, is about to be patched over.
Hans compared Silver Spring to his hometown of Oakland, California, and the complexities of a city so diverse - "a big city that's next to a bigger city and constantly in its shadow." That pretty much hits the nail on the head: Silver Spring living in the shadows, whether of D.C. or Bethesda and the rest of Montgomery County. He knows this city despite having lived here for a relatively short time. I don't see that as a handicap.
Hans Riemer works hard and doesn't mince words. He doesn't see the devil in developers, but he shows a genuine interest in the thoughts and dreams of his constituents - and of the bloggers, who also played a large part in his career at Rock The Vote. The fact he's reaching out to the blogging community in Montgomery County says a lot about his commitment to his adopted home, and I think it will play well in the coming months.