Outgoing state Sen. Rich Madaleno of Kensington will be appointed as the county’s next budget director by County Executive-elect Marc Elrich, according to two knowledgeable county government sources.
The appointment as director of the Office of Management and Budget subject to confirmation by the council. Elrich and the incoming council will be sworn in Monday, with the council scheduled to meet Tuesday. No information was available about when the council will consider the appointment.
The budget director’s main responsibilities include advising the county executive and council on fiscal planning and resource allocation, along with providing accurate budget information. The county executive submits the budget to the council each year for approval.
Madaleno is a Democrat representing District 18, which includes portions of Bethesda, Rockville, Kensington and Silver Spring. He has been a member of the Maryland General Assembly for 15 years, and has served in the Senate since 2007. His Senate service has included multiple stints on the Budget and Taxation Committee. He also spent seven years as a legislative and budget analyst for Montgomery County before running for a state delegate seat in 2002. Madaleno was the first openly gay legislator to be elected to the General Assembly.
Madaleno ran unsuccessfully for governor this year, finishing fifth among six Democrats in the June 26 primary. State Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington will succeed Madaleno in the Senate after winning the seat in the Nov. 6 general election.
Madaleno declined to confirm that Elrich had chosen him to be budget director in an interview Wednesday with Bethesda Beat.
Elrich said in an interview Thursday afternoon that he picked Madaleno because of his background in budget and fiscal issues. He said he had long admired the legislator’s work in Annapolis.
“He’s very highly regarded and I was happy that he was available,” Elrich said.
Elrich said the most important attribute for a budget director is to have someone who is able to “grasp the reality of how much money there is” in the budget and how much is typically spent each year.
“You want somebody who’s realistic and takes a solid approach to working on the budget. You want somebody who will help people feel comfortable and confident,” he said.
Jennifer Hughes, the current budget director, will retire Friday after seven years with the department. Hughes said in an interview Thursday morning that she had planned all along to retire at the end of County Executive Ike Leggett’s administration. Leggett is leaving office after serving three terms.
“I had planned on this [retiring] for a long time, and when it was in the abstract, it was pretty easy, but after working since I was 14, it’s a little unsettling,” she said.
Hughes, 60, has worked in a variety of county government positions since 1985, and was previously Leggett’s special assistant during his first . Before coming to Montgomery County, Hughes said she worked in the federal Office of Management and Budget. She said decided that county government was a better fit because she wanted to be at a “governmental level that was close to the public.”
Hughes said she has enjoyed working with Leggett, and that he has always supported the department’s mission.
“There were many times when you’re not the most popular person in county government, and it would have been easy for him to pull the rug out from under me, but he never once did that,” she said. “There’s always tension between OMB and departments. It’s their job to advocate for their programs, and it’s OMB’s job to look at things from a broad perspective, and Mr. Leggett always respected that.”
Hughes said she is most proud of making data analysis a core function of OMB during her time with the department. She said she has also enjoyed getting to know her staff members, and watching them advance in their careers.
As much as she has enjoyed the job, Hughes said it’s time for a break.
“It’s grueling, people are mad at you all of the time. It’s just not something any human being should do for a long time,” she said.
Hughes said she isn’t sure what she will do next, but plans to take time off and “sleep in.”
“I’m pretty young, and I think there’s good use for my skills in other ways,” she said.
This story will be updated.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org