Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has named Adam Ortiz as the new director of the county’s Department of Environmental Protection, subject to confirmation by the County Council.
Ortiz, 44, has been director of Prince George’s County’s Department of the Environment since 2012, and has served in a number of political positions in Maryland, including mayor of Edmonston, a town of about 1,500 people north of Bladensburg.
Ortiz, a Hyattsville resident, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Goucher College in 1996.
Elrich told reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon that he met Ortiz during his time as Edmonston’s mayor, and that his work on stormwater management was “ahead of the curve.”
The county executive said he doesn’t plan to expand the department, but hopes to make shutting down the county’s trash incinerator by 2022 a priority during his administration.
“People think that when something gets burned it solves the problem. Everything you’ve burned is up in the air or in water,” he said.
Elrich said he also hopes to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions from all sources by 2035.
“If we set a lesser goal we could probably achieve it, but in the area of climate change. I want people to feel that this really is urgent.”
If confirmed, Ortiz will be paid $190,000.
Patty Bubar has been serving as the DEP’s acting director since Lisa Feldt resigned in November 2017. With a salary of $217,400 in 2016, Feldt was the 24th highest paid county employee that year.
Elrich’s Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine has said that department heads are likely to receive lower base salaries than their predecessors.
Elrich also announced Thursday that Diane Vu would remain as permanent director of community partnerships, after first succeeding Bruce Adams as acting director in December.
With the appointment, Elrich still has to fill three top department positions, which including the housing, libraries and health and human services directors. The county has hired a private recruiter to help with the search.
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