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Montgomery County Council Elects Hans Riemer as President, Nancy Navarro as Vice President for 2017-18

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Montgomery County Council Elects Hans Riemer as President,
Nancy Navarro as Vice President for 2017-18 
New president says, “We see the changing needs
of our community as an opportunity”

ROCKVILLE, December 5, 2017—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously elected Hans Riemer as president and Nancy Navarro as vice president of the Council. They will serve one-year terms as officers of the Council.  Council President Riemer, who is an at-large Councilmember, served as Council vice president for the past year. He is beginning his 8th year on the Council.  He succeeds Councilmember Roger Berliner, who completed his one-year term as president today.

“What makes me proud to call Montgomery County home is that we see the changing needs of our community as an opportunity to create opportunity,” said Council President Riemer. “This is going to be a year, hopefully, of heightened public participation in our Council affairs.  Emotions in our community are charged as our residents reject the destructive politics in D.C. and look to our leadership to provide light in the storm.”

Council President Riemer serves as the Council’s lead member for digital government on the Council's Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee and on the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee. He has been a strong advocate for funding public education and public transportation, early childhood programs, libraries, recreation, human services, housing and economic development. He also chaired the Council’s Ad-hoc Committee on Liquor Control, which evaluated and recommended changes to alcohol distribution in the County.

As a dedicated environmentalist, Council President Riemer has worked to strengthen the County’s rural, suburban and urban areas by placing walkability, public transportation and sustainability at the center of planning goals. For the past four years, he has hosted the “Great Montgomery Bicycle Summit” to bring together bicycle advocates, planners and residents to improve bicycle opportunities throughout the County.

In January 2017 Council President Riemer was named as one of two County officials to serve on the Federal Communications Commission Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, which provides guidance, expertise, and recommendation on a range of telecommunications issues.  He also serves as Chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
Before serving on the County Council, Riemer served as national youth vote director for the Obama for America campaign in 2007, and previously as political director for Rock the Vote, where he helped register nearly a million voters. He also served as a senior advisor at AARP and, since his earliest work in Washington, has been a national leader on protecting Social Security from efforts to privatize the program.

Councilmember Navarro was unanimously elected to serve as the vice president of the Council for the second time during her tenure on the Council.  She became the first Latina president of the County Council in 2012-2013 and also served as vice president in 2011-2012. 

Vice President Navarro chairs the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) Committee and serves on the Education Committee.  She is committed to furthering progressive values and has worked to close the opportunity gap, increase the minimum wage, and promote and strengthen civic participation among Latinos and immigrants through her Latino Civic Project.  In addition, she spearheaded the Right to Vote Task Force and made the fiscal decisions required to help the County maintain its AAA bond rating.   

Vice President Navarro represents District 4, which follows Georgia Ave. from Wheaton to the Howard County border. The district also includes Aspen Hill, Ashton, Brookeville, Colesville (west of MD 650), Etchison, Glenmont, Olney, Kensington Heights, Layhill Village, Laytonsville, Randolph Hills, Sandy Spring and Sunshine.

In 2014, Councilmember Navarro was selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments.  In 2011, President Obama appointed her to the President's Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics where she served on the Early Childhood Education Committee.

Vice President Navarro was elected in May 2009 during a special election and was re-elected in the general election of November 2010. Prior to her public service on the Council, Councilmember Navarro was a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, where she was twice elected president (2006 and 2008). She was appointed to the Board of Education in October 2004 to fill the term of the vacant District 5 seat. In November 2006, she was elected to a full four-year term. 

The complete text of Council President Riemer’s remarks:

Friends, Montgomery County has always been a very special place to live.

We have long been known as one America’s most appealing, if exclusive, suburban communities. Our leaders often sought to guard us from the changes happening around us.

But that is not what or who we are any more. We are changing for the better, and we must continue to change in order to stay relevant. Let us guard our values while embracing change, because we are not just suburban Montgomery, we are inclusive, metropolitan Montgomery.

People used to come here to get away from the city. Now I hear from residents that they want to be closer to restaurants and entertainment, they want streets that are safe for walking and biking, they want more access to public transportation.

We may have a reputation for liquor control, but today we have an emerging local brewery scene, whose entrepreneurs call Montgomery the best place in the region to open a business, and a growing winery industry.

We have imposing suburban office parks, but now we can confidently say - when Marriott or Amazon calls - we have the thriving downtowns, transit, workforce, inclusive values and progressive culture they are looking for.

We have built one of America’s leading community colleges — and now, thanks to the Purple Line, Maryland’s largest research institution in College Park will be just minutes away.

Today we are a global destination for immigrants from every walk of life, from doctors and NIH researchers to construction workers, landscapers and refugees. Less than a hundred years ago, we had neighborhoods where African Americans and Jews were not allowed.

Luckily, we still have all the things that made us a magnet for so long: great schools, leafy cul-de-sacs, a stable economy, a highly educated population, great recreational opportunities and a high quality of life.

But today these amenities are available to more than a million people - not just those who already have every advantage.

Being an inclusive metropolitan community brings new challenges. Our seniors feel the stress of change and more of our school children come from families that are struggling day to day.

But what makes me proud to call Montgomery County home is that we see the changing needs of our community as an opportunity to create opportunity.

Just in the past several years we have reduced MCPS class size and invested in Montgomery College, revolutionized workforce development and redeveloped economic development, and we are getting results.

Still there remains a giant gap in our educational system: 0-5 years old.

That gap is causing low income kids to fall behind before they even enter Kindergarten.

In fact, 70% of low-income children, defined as less than twice the federal poverty level, are entering kindergarten not ready to learn. They start school significantly behind their peers and we can’t intervene enough in later years to close that gap.

It is time for us to embrace the goal of making sure that all children start kindergarten ready to learn.

Last year, under the banner of “incremental universalism,” we added funds to make Head Start - pre-k for the lowest income four-year olds - a full day program.

As you know, following committee deliberations, Council staff is preparing a set of options for how the Council can make additional progress on early education. I look forward to working with you to identify those options that will earn the strongest support and getting as much help as we can from our partners in Annapolis.

Universal Pre-K is unaffordable unless we break it into bite size pieces - so let’s get something done.

In closing, I will note that this is going to be a year, hopefully, of heightened public participation in our Council affairs. Emotions in our community are charged as our residents reject the destructive politics in DC and look to our leadership to provide a light in the storm. Our County elections, fueled by the revolutionary new public finance system we created, will engage voters as never before. We will have spirited, but civil, debate here at the Council, as we always do.

Now is a good time to focus on improving our communications with the community. My work begins by announcing a new tool that I requested from Council staff, a feature that allows our residents to subscribe to updates on content from the Council website. This feature will enable residents to be notified when particular legislation moves to public hearing, is scheduled or rescheduled for committee, and goes to a council vote.

The subscribe tool, which utilizes our new open data based Legislative Information Management System, is a great metaphor for how we should be thinking about communicating with the public. We can get better public input by doing a better job sharing the important information comprising our deliberations.  I hope to work with my colleagues to pilot new ideas this year that future council presidents will improve upon.

Thank you, and again, I look forward to a productive year ahead.

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Release ID: 17-379
Media Contact: Sonya Healy , 2407777926 , Delphine Harriston 2407777931