Updated: Elrich Outlines Policy Priorities in Inaugural Address

County executive, council members sworn in Monday

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Marc Elrich is sworn in by Clerk of the Court Barbara Meiklejohn. Photo by Dave Asche.

DAVE ASCHE

Marc Elrich spent the first few minutes of his new job as Montgomery County executive reiterating many of the same messages he had done for the past year throughout the campaign.

Elrich was sworn in Monday as the seventh Montgomery County executive. He was administered the oath of office by Clerk of the Court Barbara Meiklejohn at about noon at a ceremony at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda.

Elrich’s speech and swearing in capped off a 90-minute ceremony in which the nine county council members were also sworn in. The council members are newcomers Gabe Albornoz, Andrew Friedson, Evan Glass and Will Jawando; and incumbents Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer.

The ceremon included benedictions by a variety of faith leaders and music from Kensington’s Albert Einstein High School jazz band.

Elrich, who previously served three terms on the county council, was elected county executive in the Nov. 6 general election, defeating fellow council member Nancy Floreen, an independent candidate, and Republican Robin Ficker.

Elrich, in his address, said that he would advocate for affordable housing and tenants’ rights, along with policies that would make the county more aware of racial and gender impacts that policies have.

Elrich also said that his new administration would be committed to examining the county’s commercial zoning regulations.

“We’re gonna make sure we’re not pricing people out of business in Montgomery County,” he said.

Elrich touted his involvement in the council’s passage of a $15 minimum wage last year, and said its full implementation would be a priority in his administration.

“This is not about whether it’s worth $15 to flip a hamburger,” he said. “This is about whether the hamburger flipper can put a roof over their heads.”

Elrich added that he will miss outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett, but that he plans to “continue the work he [Leggett] did in our communities.”

The new county executive also said he would increase the efficiency of county government by restructuring it, going back to his pledge of not raising taxes,

In an interview after the ceremony, Elrich’s appointee as budget director, state Sen. Rich Madaleno, said the administration’s goal would be to engage the business community.

“Employee groups are an example where employees can sit down with us and we can say, ‘how can we help you do your job? Where is there waste in what we’re seeing? Where are there investments that can be made to get better outcomes?’” he said.

Asked whether Elrich could realistically not raise taxes, Madaleno said, “We’ll see. That’s his vision.”

Although most of Elrich’s address focused on policy goals, he briefly alluded to the 17 years he spent as a teacher in Takoma Park, quoting the late Christa McAuliffe — a teacher and astronaut who was killed aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.

“I teach. I touch the future,” Elrich said. “That’s what my administration will be about. How we touch the future.”

In prepared remarks, Riemer, the county council president, thanked outgoing County Executive Ike Leggett and then challenged his council colleagues to meet the increasing needs of county residents. “Our past decisions to support new housing, public transportation and education continue to pay dividends, but as our community has grown larger and more complex, so have our needs,” Riemer said. “If we want to continue to be an inclusive and welcoming community, then there are some basics we have to get right. There needs to be a place for everyone to live. We need reliable transportation. Young people need a great education. Immigrants and others starting out need an on-ramp to the economy.”

He added: “It all begins with economic development. Government can do a lot to improve our lives, but good jobs are the foundation of every successful family, neighborhood and community.”

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

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