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ROCKVILLE, MD — The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday unanimously elected Tom Hucker as president and Gabe Albornoz as vice president of the council.
Hucker, who was the council's vice president, replaces Sidney Katz (D-District 3). Both Hucker (D-District 5) and Albornoz (D-At Large) will serve in their roles for one year.
"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," Hucker said. "By this time next year, our county will be stronger, healthier, more prosperous, and more equitable."
A former delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, Hucker was elected to the County Council in 2014 and spearheaded a number of bills — including those that banned intentional balloon releases and required air conditioning in all rental properties.
The Democrat said in his new role he will prioritize containing the COVID-19 outbreak, rebuilding the local economy, and protecting the county's vulnerable residents. He also said he plans to keep the pressure on the state to complete the long-awaited Purple Line and continue the council's efforts to increase attainable housing options.
Councilmember Hans Riemer, who served as Council President in 2017-18, commended Hucker for his leadership, as well as his desire to address the needs of all county residents.
"What I'm excited about in your leadership is your diligence and your focus on meeting the needs that otherwise might be left behind," Riemer (D-At Large) said. "Your work over the years on tenants' rights, climate, and voting rights — I think has just been a big part of this council's delivering for the whole community."
Councilmember Andrew Friedson (D-District 1) also chimed in, saying Hucker's relationships with state lawmakers, advocates, and administrators will help the council "move the needle and get things done."
"We have residents who are struggling more than ever. We have businesses that are struggling more than ever," Friedson said. "We need to have the ability to bring people together and move things forward. I'm confident that you will be able to do that."
Albornoz, the chair of the council's Health and Human Services Committee, joins Hucker in defining the legislative body's priorities at a time when the county — like the rest of the country — is struggling to contain the COVID-19 virus.
Since its outbreak emerged in March, Montgomery County has reported more than 34,000 COVID-19 infections and 920 deaths. The state has seen more than 203,000 infections and 4,500 fatalities; and the country has recorded more than 13,800,000 cases and 272,800 deaths.
As chair of the council's Health and Human Services Committee, Albornoz has spearheaded legislation that increased accessibility to COVID-19 testing sites and ramped up response to the disease in Latino communities.
"Although, truthfully, 2020 has made us all feel like elder statesmen and stateswomen, nothing could have prepared us for what we have gone through," Councilmember Nancy Navarro said. "But I am confident that Gabe will bring the same level-headedness, work ethic, and compassion that he has demonstrated since taking office to his new role."
If tradition stands, Albornoz will be council president in 2021-22.