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Albornoz vows to work together, address inequities as council president

by Judith Hruz

Editor

Saying “we must work together to take a holistic and sustainable approach to fully recover from the pandemic and address long-standing inequities in our community,” County Councilman Gabe Albornoz took over the role as president of the council.

Albornoz (D-At large), who served this past year as vice president and chairs the council’s Health and Human Services Committee, received the unanimous vote of his council colleagues. He is also a member of the Public Safety Committee

The council also unanimously elected Councilman Evan Glass (D-At large) as vice president.

They will serve one-year terms as officers.

Councilman Tom Hucker (D-Dist. 5) concluded his one-year term as president on Dec. 7.

“As I conclude my term as council president, I’m honored to pass the gavel on to Council President Gabe Albornoz,” Hucker said. “He has been a reliable voice of reason, compassion and good judgment throughout this challenging year and I’m confident that Montgomery County will continue on a strong path under his leadership.”

He added that he is “thrilled” that the council unanimously elected Glass as vice president.

“He is an unwavering advocate for our most vulnerable communities and will help move our county toward a more sustainable, equitable and green future,” Hucker said.

At the council officers’ weekly media briefing on Dec. 6, Albornoz thanked Hucker for his work.

“On behalf of the council, I want to thank you,” he said, adding the position is not ceremonial. “There’s a lot of heavy lifting involved.”

He added, “I really appreciate your leadership.”

Albornoz said the county must close the gap on health disparities, put an end to childhood hunger and shore up safety net services.

“I am confident that we will meet these challenges with resolve,” he said. “The moral compass of this council and previous councils has always pointed toward just social policies and the relentless pursuit of the common good.”

In addition to ongoing pandemic recovery efforts, Albornoz said he will focus on breaking down barriers in public health, building a sustainable food assistance framework and balancing principled policy initiatives with fiscal responsibility.

Albornoz was elected to the County Council in 2018 and represents all Montgomery County residents as an at-large member of the council. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

His career has been focused on helping others and making government more responsive and effective. Before being elected to the council, he was the director of Montgomery County’s Department of Recreation for 12 years and led the department through the recession under the Leggett administration.

Under his leadership, the department expanded programming to vulnerable populations and created innovative programs such as Excel Beyond the Bell, TeenWorks and Tech Connect, which is designed to help close the achievement and opportunity gap for thousands of young people and senior residents.

The department also constructed four new senior centers, six new recreation centers and implemented major renovations to six others during his tenure.

Before joining Montgomery County Government, Albornoz worked as the deputy director of the Latin American Youth Center’s Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers. He is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery, the University of Maryland Rawlings Fellowship program and the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, which is a collaboration of the William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Lyndon B. Johnson presidential foundations.

Albornoz is a lifelong Montgomery County resident. He graduated from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland and an MBA from The Johns Hopkins University.

Glass serves as the lead for Homelessness and Vulnerable Communities on the council’s Health and Human Services Committee and is a member of the Transportation and Environment Committee. He was also elected to the council in 2018 as an at-large member and is the first LGBTQ+ council member in Montgomery County.

Glass is also the council’s representative on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board and the National Association of Counties’ Transportation Committee and its Large Urban County Caucus.

During his first term on the council, Glass initiated and led the passage of the Montgomery County Pay Equity Act, the LGBTQ Bill of Rights and the Oversight and Small Business Investment Act.

He also spearheaded efforts to expand food composting, made public buses free for all residents under age 18 and put forth the Montgomery County Charter amendment to add two new council districts.

Prior to his council service, Glass was a CNN journalist and served as executive director of Gandhi Brigade Youth Media. He lives in Silver Spring with his husband and their rescue beagles.

In a Dec. 8 statement, County Executive Marc Elrich (D) congratulated Albornoz and Glass on their new leadership roles.

“I have worked with both of them on numerous issues over the last three years and look forward to working even more collaboratively over the next year,” he said. “Gabe and Evan have been helpful partners and leaders who are dedicated to serving this county.”

Elrich said the council and he have worked “to ensure that our government operations did not stop during the pandemic, and we closely monitored our budget and spending. We also followed the science and data to guide us during the pandemic, and we have the highest vaccination rate among large jurisdictions throughout this nation. And all our work has been guided by an equity lens.”

He added, “We have a lot to be proud of, but there is still more to do; and I am confident that we will build on our past success working with Council President Albornoz and Vice President Glass. As we continue to battle this pandemic and work to make our county even better, it is imperative that we continue working together to build a more equitable and inclusive Montgomery County for all.”

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