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Friedson elected County Council president; Stewart is vice president

by Ethan Therrien

Contributing Writer

The Montgomery County Council embraced new leadership Dec. 5 by unanimously electing Councilmember Andrew Friedson as its new president.

Councilmember Kate Stewart (D-Dist. 4) is the newly elected vice president.

Friedson (D-Dist. 1), who previously served as vice president on the council, was elected in 2018 as the youngest member in Montgomery County Council history. He will continue to make history by becoming the youngest ever president to serve on the council.

He continues to chair the council’s Planning, Housing and Parks Committee and is also a member of the council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee.

During his acceptance speech, he listed several positive trends from the council that he deems as “key priorities” to continue focusing on during his upcoming tenure.

“We continued to tackle the housing crisis,” said Friedson. “Implemented measures for a sustainable, greener future, bolstered support for local businesses, grew our bio-health sector, advanced safer roads, protected the health care commitments of our retirees and maintained our long-running AAA bond rating.”

Friedson said that “transparency and accountability will be our governing doctrine” as the council works towards shared policy goals under his leadership, citing his connection to the county as one of his primary motivators.

“For me, like for all of us, public service isn’t a career choice; it’s a calling,” he said. “It’s hard to describe the profound honor to give back to a place that has given me so much, and to represent the only place I’ve ever called home.”

Friedson established a $100 million revolving Housing Production Fund and spearheaded legislation to incentivize smart growth housing near transit. He co-authored the county’s largest-ever climate investment with the Montgomery County Green Buildings Now Act and sponsored legislation to provide guaranteed paid parental leave for county employees.

He has received the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Legislator of the Year Award, Public Policy Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement and the Glen Echo Park Advocacy Award.

Friedson succeeds Councilmember Evan Glass (D-At large), who was the first-ever openly gay member of the Montgomery County Council.

In his closing remarks, Glass listed a number of accomplishments from his tenure, including infrastructure and economic developments. He also noted the historic diversity of the council.

“Today, we make up the most racially diverse and representative council in Montgomery County’s history — with a female-majority and a majority of our committees being chaired by Black, Latino, women and LGBTQ+ councilmembers,” said Glass. “We should all be proud of that. And I’m particularly grateful to my colleagues for having faith in me to shepherd us through this transition.”

Glass said: “It has been an honor serving as your council president this last year, and I look forward to continuing to serve Montgomery County.”

Stewart chairs both the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and the Audit Committee and serves on the Transportation and Environment Committee. She is the first woman of the all-female-majority elected to the council in 2022 to serve in council leadership.

“Being selected as Montgomery County Council vice president is a wonderful honor, and I thank my colleagues for their support,” Stewart said.

She added: “These are important jobs we have. It’s important we show up, we meet our responsibilities as caretakers of the county and its residents, and we do that with respect, knowing each of us is here for the right reason — to serve.”

In her role as the chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy and Audit committees, Stewart has worked to increase fiscal responsibility and accountability for county departments. She has prioritized housing affordability, economic development and access to health care for the LGBTQ+ community.

During the FY24 budget, Stewart worked with colleagues to update the recordation tax, making it more progressive, ensuring the county did not have a shortfall in the funding of our school construction and infrastructure projects.

Stewart is the chair of the board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

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