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Montgomery County Council Elects Nancy Navarro as President and Sidney Katz as Vice President

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 4, 2018

President Navarro says: ‘I hope that by the end of my tenure as Council president, we will truly be on the path of a changed Montgomery becoming One Montgomery’

 

ROCKVILLE, December 4, 2018—The Montgomery County Council today unanimously elected Councilmember Nancy Navarro as president and Councilmember Sidney Katz as vice president of the Council. They will serve one-year terms as officers of the Council.  Navarro just completed a one-year term as Council vice president.  This is the second time she has been elected to serve as Council president.  Navarro is the first Latina ever elected to the Council and is the only woman serving on the 19th Council.  

Council President Navarro’s priorities for the year include: closing the opportunity gap in academic achievement; expanding early child care and early childhood education; implementing a senior agenda for the county’s aging population; redeveloping and revitalizing areas of the county and creating more jobs; expanding civic engagement; and making the county more business friendly.   

“The watchword for me is equity, and I am passionately determined to continue that work as president of this great Council,” said Navarro.  “To me, One Montgomery means recognizing the differences among us, while emphasizing that however different our backgrounds or our lifestyles may be, we are all connected.  We all share the same need for a government that encourages economic growth, protects our families, educates our children, and provides a safety net in case we fall on hard times.”   

Navarro, who also serves as chair of the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and as a member of the Education Committee, represents District 4, which stretches up Georgia Ave. from Wheaton to the Howard County line and includes much of the eastern portion of the county.  

Navarro has served on the Council since 2009.  She also served as Council president in 2013 and vice president in 2012 and 2018.  In Oct. 2011, President Obama appointed her to the President’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where she served on the Early Childhood Education Committee.  In 2014, she was selected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments. Prior to her Council service, Navarro was a member of the Montgomery County Board of Education from 2004-2009.   

Council Vice President Katz represents District 3, which includes Gaithersburg, Rockville, Washington Grove, Leisure World, and parts of Aspen Hill, Derwood, North Potomac and Potomac.  He serves as chair of the Public Safety Committee and as a member of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. 

 

Katz was elected to the Council in 2014 and started his career in public service on the Gaithersburg Planning Commission.  He also served on the Gaithersburg City Council and as the mayor of Gaithersburg for 16 years.      

 

The complete remarks of Council President Navarro on her term as Council president can be read below: 

First, I would like to thank the voters of my district for honoring me with yet another four years to serve them. It is an incredible privilege. I promise to continue to serve with the same dedication and resolve, as I have done for the past nine years.  Let me thank my awesome family, my husband Reginald and our daughters Anais and Isabel for providing me with the inspiration, the ability, and the courage to step up and serve in public office.  A heartfelt thank you to my work family, the Navarro Team, comprised of Ikhide Roland Ikheloa, Bertha Flores, Craig Wilson, Mayra Cruz Solis, and Benjamin Price. Thank you for your professionalism and absolute dedication to this work. 

And thank you, colleagues, for trusting me with the leadership of this Council. Having served as president, first on the Board of Education and then on this Council in 2013, my priority is to make sure that our work as a body is seamless, productive, and accountable to our residents. We will do this together as a team.  We will confront the opportunities and challenges ahead through a framework of productive collaboration.  

My promise is to build upon the work of the leaders before me, and to extend the conversation and direct the work in new equitable ways to reflect the needs of our changed county. It is the right thing to do, and I welcome the opportunity to work with my colleagues, County Executive Marc Elrich, key leaders, and stakeholders on new and exciting initiatives. 

This has been a year of change. As we usher in a new Council, it is appropriate to salute our colleagues who just retired from the Council: Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen and George Leventhal. As a group they collectively contributed decades of active and incredibly productive service to Montgomery County. Our county is better for their service.  I hope that they all will continue to avail us of their expertise in the interest of our county. 

Let me also thank outgoing Council President Hans Riemer for his leadership during the past year. You led us through a comprehensive and challenging budget season, and you kept alive the conversation on several issues, many of which were controversial. I am proud to continue to serve with Councilmembers Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, and Craig Rice, all outstanding public servants.  I am also pleased to welcome Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Evan Glass, Andrew Friedson, and Will Jawando. I know each of you personally, and I can confidently say that your expertise, passion for the work, and temperament will be huge assets to our team.  

As we transition to a new era of leadership, it is appropriate to reflect on our past accomplishments. We have done great and courageous work, sometimes under trying circumstances. We have maintained our AAA bond rating even through the recession, making us the only county that has maintained this rating since 1973.  We survived the recession, and we closed a crushing deficit, while making education, the safety net, and ensuring that redevelopment and revitalization remained top priorities.  

We can do even more for all our residents. The watchword for me is equity, and I am passionately determined to continue that work as president of this great Council. It is interesting, as I was reflecting on today, I happened to revisit the speech I made in December 2012 as incoming president of the Council. I talked about us being “One Montgomery.” Today, as we sit here, my words still ring true and they bear repeating:  

“To me, One Montgomery means recognizing the differences among us, while emphasizing that however different our backgrounds or our lifestyles may be, we are all connected. We all depend on each other. We all share the same need for a government that encourages economic growth, protects our families, educates our children, and provides a safety net in case we fall on hard times. Being One Montgomery means making progress together because, even if we don’t always agree on every detail, we share a common set of core values. It’s an honor to sit on this dais with a group of public servants who, faced with very difficult choices, were able to take unified action for the common good. But One Montgomery also means embracing our diversity. Our county is incredibly diverse by any measure you can think of—our residents come from across the country and around the world, from every socioeconomic class. We have students and young professionals living in urban high-rises; teachers and police officers starting families in garden apartments; lawyers, small business owners, and Cabinet secretaries in houses lining quiet cul-de-sacs; and everything in between. We even have working farms and historic small towns, all right next to the jobs and amenities of our nation’s capital.”  

The work of keeping a changed county “One Montgomery” remains even more urgent today. As we witness daily attacks on our core values, from the highest office in the nation, we must double down on our resolve to defend the fundamental core values of inclusion, respect, and freedom, here at home.  

I am pleased to say that the work has begun. This past year, our Council as a team unanimously affirmed our commitment to the creation of an equity policy through the adoption of a resolution.  In that historic action, the Council signaled that it will begin to address inequities in our communities in structural ways; that our words would be matched with intentional action. To kick off this important work, this January we will be convening a first-ever equity training for councilmembers and key leaders of our county followed by extensive community engagement, with the aim of adopting legislation in the fall of 2019. We are going to be looking at this issue squarely in the eye and addressing it.  

In my tenure on the Council, I have focused on a few core priorities that are designed to improve the quality of life of our children and adults. In the coming months, I will be working with my Council colleagues to collectively address the following priorities as a team:  

Closing the opportunity gap in academic achievement: Montgomery County is a great place to live and work but there are persistent opportunity gaps that must be confronted. Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith has called closing the opportunity gap that exists among races and ethnicities in our schools a moral imperative. I would add that it is an economic imperative, and we should all work with him and the Board of Education to ensure that academic success for all means all.

Early care and education: Implementing a high-quality, accessible, and affordable early care education initiative in Montgomery County is also an economic imperative. We must be strategic and invest in the early years. The research is clear that it is the best return on investment and prepares all our children to be ready to learn. We know what works, and we know the scope of the need, and while we have assets in place, it is not enough to make a significant difference. As I began saying as far back as in 2011, we must establish a dedicated funding stream that allows us to scale up our delivery of quality services and make a real impact in the lives of children. I envision a phased-in initiative that starts with the neediest children and incorporates family child care providers, private centers, community-based centers, intergenerational programs, the school system, the Resource and Referral Center, Judy Centers, and Montgomery College. These partnerships would allow us to leverage training, technical assistance, and mentoring to promote quality services. If we are serious about maintaining our competitive edge as a county and as a nation, the work of preparing our future workforce for a rapidly evolving job market must start with a robust early care and education system.

Implementing a senior agenda: Our demographic data shows that we have a rapidly growing and active aging population. In my recent travels across the county, and meeting with our senior residents, I have been impressed by their level of civic engagement and willingness to be part of the exciting things happening in the county. As we begin to think of a strategic vision for our county, we must intentionally and strategically prioritize the needs and concerns of our seniors in our decision-making processes.

Redevelopment, revitalization, and more jobs: I am extremely proud of the revitalization and redevelopment efforts in our county, especially the efforts in White Oak and Wheaton. We just broke ground on the new Route 29 corridor Bus Rapid Transit service, and we continue to build more housing. We need to do more, and we will. This Council has a responsibility to improve conditions throughout the county, as we seek to expand our tax base.

Civic engagement: Throughout my career, I have been proud to lead the charge in fostering civic engagement among our county’s diverse communities.  I have done this work through several innovative programs, such as the Latino Civic Project, which is designed to empower our Latino community through respectful and effective civic engagement, as well as helping our institutions adapt to a changing world. Our residents have been empowered to weigh in on several issues including land use and development, voting rights, and budgetary decisions. Our Council should continue to take a proactive stance and push for institutional adaptations that enable all communities in our county to fully participate in the civic process.  

Making Montgomery County friendly for businesses: Everything I have said today is ultimately tied to a desired goal—to expand our tax base by building a well-educated work force for now and the future and creating a friendly business environment for all small, medium, and large businesses. I am proud of my work with our colleagues in creating opportunities like the Small Business Assistance Program to assist small business owners whose livelihoods would be directly impacted by county-led revitalization projects and the Microloan Program. Allowing aspiring entrepreneurs to access needed funding and technical assistance and enabling small businesses to be competitive in a rapidly-changing county, is one sure way to expand access to opportunities for all.

In summary, I hope that by the end of my tenure as Council president, as I shepherd the work of this team through this transition, we will truly be on the path of a changed Montgomery becoming One Montgomery.  

I thank all of you for being here this morning.  I can’t wait to start the work on behalf of this great county. Thank you.  

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Release ID: 18-309
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926