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by Judith Hruz
Tom Hucker (D-Dist. 5) is the new president of the Montgomery County Council and Gabe Albornoz (D-At large) is the new vice president. The two councilmen take the leadership reins as the county joins the state and country in battling the second surge of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both were elected during the County Council meeting Dec. 1, but not before outgoing council president Sidney Katz (D-Dist. 3) thanked his colleagues, staff, family and friends for their support during the past year.
“My tenure as council president has been everything that nobody expected,” he said.
“The challenges that COVID-19 presented were unprecedented,” he said, adding those challenges “brought out a strength in us we might not have known was there.”
Katz said he was “proud and grateful” to have served as president “during one of, if not the, most challenging times in our history.”
Members of the council lauded Katz for his leadership.
“Your calm and cool collected leadership is exactly what we needed as our world changed in the blink of an eye,” Councilman Evan Glass (D-At large) said.
Councilman Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) nominated Katz as president last December. The council president and vice president serve one-year terms.
“We needed someone who cared about community,” he said. “Who knew that we needed you so much?”
Rice called Katz a leader with “compassion and care.”
He said that leaders either crumble or sail during times of extreme challenge, “and sir, you sailed off into the sunset.”
Rice added, “We owe you a great debt of gratitude.”
The council members also praised Hucker’s election to the top leadership position..
In making the nomination, Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) said Hucker has the “poise and courage” to lead during the coming year.
“I know that you are up to the task as we work together to keep our residents healthy and safe,” Glass said.
Hucker just completed a term as vice president and chairs the Transportation and Environment Committee. He also is a member of the council’s Public Safety Committee.
“We will take the lessons we learned this year to guide us as we climb out of this unexpected disaster and come back stronger and better prepared for the future,” he said. “By this time next year, our county will be stronger, healthier, more prosperous and more equitable.”
Hucker plans to prioritize containment of the COVID-19 health crisis, the recovery of the local economy and protecting the county’s most vulnerable residents. He also plans to keep the pressure on the state to complete the Purple Line and fulfill the county’s legislative priorities.
His plans also include working with his colleagues to continue the council’s efforts to increase attainable housing options, strive for racial justice and respond to climate change.
“We are really going to need your leadership,” Councilman Andrew Friedson (D-Dist. 1) told his colleague.
Hucker was elected to the County Council in 2014. District 5 includes the southeast and eastern portion of Montgomery County surrounding U.S. Route 29, including Briggs Chaney, Burnt Mills, Burtonsville, Calverton, Cloverly, Colesville, Fairland, Four Corners, Hillandale, Lyttonsville, Silver Spring, Takoma Park and White Oak.
Before his service on the council, he worked as a community organizer and nonprofit executive. Hucker was elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2006 to represent District 20, which includes Silver Spring and Takoma Park, and was re-elected in 2010.
He serves on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and as the vice chair of the Washington Suburban Transit Commission, the state body that oversees transit service in the region, including the Washington metropolitan area and the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The council members also praised Albornoz for working to ensure all residents of Montgomery County are served well.
Albornoz is chair of the council’s Health and Human Services Committee and is a member of the Public Safety Committee. He served as director of the Montgomery County Recreation Department for 12 years prior to being elected to the council in 2018.
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