At-large County Council member Hans Riemer was unanimously elected by his colleagues Tuesday morning to serve as president of the legislative body for the next year.
Riemer, who served as vice president the past year, took over for Roger Berliner immediately.
The council members Tuesday also selected District 4 Council member Nancy Navarro as vice president.
After giving Berliner an honorary gavel to signify the switch, Riemer said he plans to lead the council during a time of change in Montgomery County.
He described the county as a special place to live with historically appealing, “if exclusive, communities.”
“This is not who we are anymore,” Riemer, a Takoma Park resident, said. “We are changing for the better. We must continue to change to stay relevant. We are not just suburban Montgomery. We are inclusive, metropolitan Montgomery.”
He committed to continue making the county an inclusive community for new immigrants. He also began to lay the groundwork for a push to expand early childhood education.
“It’s time to embrace the goal of making sure all children start kindergarten ready to learn,” Riemer said. He noted that council staff is working on options to expand early childhood education in the county.
Riemer will take over the leadership role as the council faces a $120 million operating budget shortfall. County Executive Ike Leggett said Monday he will be sending over proposed cuts to the budget as part of a savings plan the council will review during the next two months.
Next year is an election year in which three current council members—Berliner, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich—are running for county executive. Meanwhile, more than 30 candidates are running for four at-large council seats and Berliner’s District 1 seat as term limits are forcing Berliner and at-large members Leventhal, Elrich and Nancy Floreen to step down from the council.
The annual leadership change is also coming amid change at the top council staff position. Steve Farber, the council administrator since 1991, is retiring from his post in February. In a July letter, Farber told council members it was an honor to serve with them.
Last month, the council selected longtime planning analyst Marlene Michaelson to replace Farber after he leaves. Michaelson has worked for the council for 29 years, advising members on land-use and zoning issues.
The council administrator—the principal adviser to the council—oversees the council staff and implements the council’s policies and work program.