Former councilmember Craig Rice, middle right, looks on at Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich during a press briefing in March 2020. Credit: Image from Montgomery County video

The Montgomery County Council voted 9-2 Tuesday to approve a position to focus on expanding broadband access countywide, including in rural areas. Sources in County Executive Marc Elrich’s office said that he will submit former County Councilmember Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2) for the position; his appointment, which requires council confirmation, has not been announced publicly yet.

Rice has focused on rural broadband issues throughout his career, including during his time on the National Association of Counties. He chaired that association’s Education and Culture Committee and Health and Human Services Committee, which focused on those areas.

County Council President Evan Glass (D-At-large) and County Councilmember Dawn Luedtke (D-Dist. 7) were the two members who voted against the position. The person who assumes the role would be paid $175,000 annually.  Counting benefits, it would cost the county about $214,000 yearly.

The council’s government operations and fiscal policy amended the legislation for the position by creating a sunset provision where it is no longer funded three years after it’s established. No councilmembers acknowledged that Rice is being considered for the position Tuesday, but two sources in Elrich’s office confirmed that to MoCo360 last week.

Multiple councilmembers said during Tuesday’s meeting that the position was needed to address internet access issues across the county, including to address the growing needs of telehealth, telework and other related areas.

“That is all predicated on people having access to the technology and knowing how to use that technology here in our community,” County Councilmember Gabe Albornoz (D-At-large) said. “And I feel that the time is right for us to aggressively pursue opportunities at both the federal and the state level.”


Luedtke, however, said that she wasn’t convinced that the position was needed, given that there are existing offices and staffers that address the issue—including the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, which works on issues that cross between the county, state and federal government. There’s also the Office of Broadband Programs, she noted.  

“I really feel like this could have been accomplished through streamlining of programmatic goals for the existing employees that we have, in order to focus on the objectives that are currently before us,” Luedtke said.

Glass agreed, noting that there are 1,500 vacancies in county government, and that the fiscal year 2024 budget proposed by Elrich calls for 137 new tax-supported positions.


“I four years ago told the county executive I would be a willing partner in working to streamline and overhaul county government to do right by our hard working employees and to do right by our hard paying taxpayers,” Glass said. “And I don’t think that this legislation and the creation of this position moves us toward that common goal.”