2018 | Politics

Elrich Begins Transition Planning

New county executive says he will interview possible department heads next week for his incoming administration

Marc Elrich

File photo

It’s only been three days since Marc Elrich was elected as the next Montgomery County executive, but the three-term County Council member is starting to put his administration together.

Elrich said in an interview Friday morning he is assembling his transition team, which will include some members of his campaign staff. The transition team will conduct interviews with possible department heads and staff members next week, he said.

“We’re only in the beginning phase. It’s not an easy thing to turn around [after the election],” he said.

Elrich said he will know more next week about which department heads will be staying and which will be going.  When asked, he said he has no intention of replacing Police Chief Tom Manger.

Manger told Bethesda Beat Friday morning that he’s been chief “for a long time” and that he “definitely wants to assist with the transition.” He added: “It could be that I stay on as chief.”

Manger said he has a meeting scheduled with Elrich for next week.

One new face will be Andrew Kleine, who will be Elrich’s chief administrative officer, replacing Tim Firestine. Kleine resigned in November 2017 as Baltimore’s budget director.

Elrich said Kleine brings needed experience when it comes to making government more efficient.

“I’m interested in his management practices that would be critical for how you go about restructuring government. And I want someone who was committed to restructuring government,” he said.

Kleine’s appointment, as well as those of other department heads, are subject to confirmation by the council.

Elrich said Friday that he was still recovering from the rigor of the campaign and hadn’t caught up on all his emails, but that he has a meeting with outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett scheduled for next week. He also said he’s going to meet “with folks that are involved in early childhood education to see what opportunities we have to go forward and what new things we need to do.”

Asked whether he had spoken yet with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan Elrich said he hadn’t personally, but the governor had spoken with members of the transition team. Despite having been critical of Hogan in the past, Elrich said he is interested in working with Hogan.

An email was sent to about 150 people Wednesday asking if they were interested in joining his transition team.

The transition email outlined several of Elrich’s priorities for the county and asked for those interested in being part of the transition team to attend three meetings this month, with the first being held Tuesday at the East County Community Recreation Center in Silver Spring. The other two meetings will take place on Nov. 19 and Nov. 27, although the locations were not specified in the email.

Elrich said he’s also had conversations with fellow council member Sidney Katz about how to put together committees for the upcoming council.

Asked whether he planned to meet with members of the business community, Elrich said he was sure he’d be “meeting with them soon. Elrich has gained a reputation for favoring policies that are not business-friendly, but said he wasn’t worried about any lingering fears about whether his administration will inhibit economic growth.

“I haven’t done anything specific [to the business community] except [raise] the minimum wage. But I haven’t had an anti-business agenda,” he said.

Elrich also reiterated his campaign pledge not to raise taxes. He said finding ways to restructure government will help the county save money.

“If taxes are always the answer, then you’re never reflecting on your work,” he said.

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