County Executive Marc Elrich (left) speaks at a press conference earlier this month. On Friday, Elrich formally disapproved the appointment of James Hedrick to the Planning Board.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich has formally disapproved the appointment of James Hedrick to the Planning Board nearly a month after he was selected, according to a memorandum obtained by MoCo360.

Hedrick, a senior housing analyst at the Federal Housing Finance Agency in Washington, D.C., won the seat over four other Democrats in February. He was selected in an 8-3 vote by the County Council.

“In the nuanced work of planning, there is a need to recognize the opinions and lived experiences of others and to come to the table ready to work together. During my interview with Mr. Hedrick, he made it clear that he has no interest in doing this difficult work,” Elrich wrote in his memorandum. “Instead, his comments to me, as well as on social media, demonstrate an ideological close-mindedness as well as a disdain for those whose views do not comport with his. This seems particularly true regarding the widely recognized need for more housing in the county.”

Hedrick could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.

The County Council is remaking the Planning Board after all of its members resigned last fall amid a series of scandals. Elrich’s rejection of Hedrick will test whether the majority that selected him can grow into a nine-vote supermajority to override the veto. Those voting against Hedrick the first time were Will Jawando (D-At-Large), Kristin Mink (D-Dist. 5) and Laurie-Anne Sayles (D-At-Large).

Scott Peterson, a spokesman for Elrich, said in an interview in February  that Elrich had 30 days to consider whether to veto the council’s appointments.


“The appointment of a new Planning Board is an opportunity for a fresh start, removed from the toxic atmosphere that permeated the defunct Planning Board at all levels, including social media. Unfortunately, Mr. Hedrick perpetuates, rather than alleviates, that atmosphere. He has made insulting and dismissive statements about those with opposing viewpoints. When asked about this, he disappointingly expressed no regrets. Such rigid views are anathema to restoring the reputation of the Planning Board and the public’s confidence in its decisions,” Elrich wrote.

Montgomery County Council President Evan Glass expressed his frustration with Elrich’s decision in a statement released Friday evening.

“I am disappointed that County Executive Elrich disapproved James Hedrick’s appointment to the Montgomery County Planning Board. Mr. Hedrick received affirmative votes from a supermajority of councilmembers to become a Planning Board member on Feb. 28,” Glass wrote.


“The Council takes the role of appointing individuals to the Planning Board extremely seriously. We will act swiftly and deliberatively, as we remain focused on maintaining the essential work of the Planning Board.”

Greater Greater Washington, a transportation and housing advocacy nonprofit that endorsed Hedrick, has started a petition asking the Council to override Elrich’s veto.

The County Council is in the process of appointing new Planning Board members in the wake of incidents that engulfed the board and Planning Department, leading to the resignation of all its members last October. Currently, the board is staffed by temporary appointees.


First, former Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson was found to have violated county rules by having a full bar in his office. Then, he was alleged to have used vulgar language in the workplace, which Anderson denied.

Not long after, the Planning Board met in closed session and fired former Planning Director Gwen Wright. The County Council then asked all five Planning Board commissioners to resign, and they did so in October.

The county’s Planning Board makes decisions regarding future development in the county, including housing, economic opportunities, and parks. Some of its most prominent jobs in the coming months will be implementing Thrive Montgomery 2050, the update to the county’s general master plan, and searching for a new planning director, who heads the county Planning Department’s staff. Tanya Stern has been serving in an interim role since Wright was fired last year.


The Council will discuss Elrich’s decision during its meeting Tuesday.