County Council Approves New Post of Climate Change Director

County Council Approves New Post of Climate Change Director

Position to be appointed by incoming county executive

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George Leventhal

File photo

The Montgomery County Council has given its stamp of approval for the creation of a new staff position that will serve as a liaison between the council, the county executive and county environmental agencies.

The council unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to create the post of director of county climate policy. Outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett could sign the bill later this week, although the bill would not take effect until December, when a new county executive is sworn in, a government staffer said. Voters will choose a new county executive in the Nov. 6 general election. Republican Robin Ficker of Boyds and County Council members Marc Elrich, the Democratic nominee, and Nancy Floreen, who is running as an independent, are vying for the post.

Funding for the director’s salary, which hasn’t been determined, would come from the general fund in the county budget.

According to the bill, the climate policy director would be responsible for coordinating climate efforts between county agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection, the Office of Energy and Sustainability in the Department of General Services and the Department of Transportation. The director would also work with other agencies including the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College in developing public awareness programs such as efforts to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions and encourage the use of wind and solar energy. The director would ultimately advise the council and executive on environmental issues.

Council member George Leventhal, who sponsored the bill, said the idea for the post is based on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to centralize city environmental agencies within one department.

“It was something I had promised to do in my county executive campaign,” said Leventhal, who lost in the June 26 primary.

Leventhal, who could not run for re-election as a council member because of term limits, said he has confidence the new county executive will choose someone for the post who is capable of doing the job. He said Leggett’s successor would need to determine the director’s salary.

“It’s not for me to tell the new county executive how fill the position,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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