Skip to main content

Press Releases - County Council

Montgomery County Council Elects Andrew Friedson as President and Councilmember Kate Stewart as Vice President

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

President Friedson says: “Transparency and accountability will be our governing doctrine."

The Montgomery County Council today elected Councilmember Andrew Friedson as president and Councilmember Kate Stewart as vice president. They will serve one-year terms as Council officers. Council President Friedson just completed a one-year term as vice president and continues to chair the Planning, Housing and Parks Committee. He is also a member of the Council's Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee. 

Council President Friedson’s priorities for the coming year include addressing the housing and climate crises, bolstering economic development to expand our tax base, strengthening Council oversight, and improving support and services for older adults to live with dignity and vitality.

"As we look forward, we must redouble our efforts to address our housing and climate crises to ensure our residents are healthy, housed, and that everyone in our community has an opportunity to prosper," Council President Friedson said. "Part of developing new economic opportunities includes acknowledging the challenges we face and committing ourselves to go big and take bold action to attract new investments." 

In his remarks, Friedson emphasized that, “This must be a collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach -- abandoning what doesn’t work, embracing opportunities to innovate...We will break away from the same old strategies that lead to the same old results. We will be strategic and intentional, and we will act with urgency.”

Council President Friedson represents District 1 including Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac. In 2018, Friedson became the youngest Councilmember ever elected and will now become the youngest Council president in County history.  

Council President Friedson established a $100 million revolving Housing Production Fund and spearheaded legislation to incentivize smart growth housing near transit. He co-authored the County’s largest-ever climate investment with the Montgomery County Green Buildings Now Act and sponsored legislation to provide guaranteed paid parental leave for County employees.  

He has been a consistent advocate for transparency in County government and has led efforts to strengthen financial oversight and the County ethics law, improve the budget process, and reform the County’s property tax system. Friedson has received the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Legislator of the Year Award, Public Policy Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement and the Glen Echo Park Advocacy Award.

Council Vice President Stewart represents District 4, representing North Bethesda, Garrett Park, Kensington, Montgomery Hills, Takoma Park, Silver Spring and parts of Chevy Chase. Councilmember Stewart chairs both the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and the Audit Committee and serves on the Transportation and Environment Committee. Councilmember Stewart is the first woman of the all female majority elected to the Council in 2022 to serve in Council leadership.   

“Being selected as Montgomery County Council vice president is a wonderful honor, and I thank my colleagues for their support,” Vice President Stewart said. “I’m excited to assume this role. These are important jobs we have. It’s important we show up, we meet our responsibilities as caretakers of the County and its residents, and we do that with respect, knowing each of us is here for the right reason -- to serve.” 

In her role as the chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy and Audit committees, Councilmember Stewart has worked to increase fiscal responsibility and accountability for County departments. She has prioritized housing affordability, economic development and access to healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community. During the FY24 budget, Councilmember Stewart worked with colleagues to update the recordation tax, making it more progressive, ensuring the County did not have a shortfall in the funding of our school construction and infrastructure projects. 

Stewart is the chair of the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), a regional organization with membership of 300 elected officials from 24 local governments in the Washington metropolitan area, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures and U.S. Congress. As chair of MWCOG, Stewart has been leading efforts to address the financial sustainability of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), ensuring the Metro system is in a strong position to continue to serve Montgomery County and the region.

The complete remarks of Council President Friedson on his term as Council president can be read below:

Thank you Councilmember Gabe Albornoz for those kind words and for your continued friendship and partnership.

To Council President Evan Glass, let me first express my sincere appreciation for your leadership this year. You ably led this new 11-member Council, and your leadership was instrumental in overseeing a critical transition for this 20th Council, the most diverse and representative in Montgomery County history. You did so while paving the way as the first openly LGBTQ+ Councilmember and Council president, and it’s been an honor to serve beside you. 

To my Council colleagues, thank you for placing your confidence in me to lead our County forward as Council president. I’ve been deeply inspired by the passion, talent, depth and breadth of experience each of you brings to this role. It’s truly humbling to serve with you. 

For me, like for all of us, public service isn’t a career choice; it’s a calling. It’s hard to describe the profound honor to give back to a place that has given me so much – to represent the only place I’ve ever called home, and to follow in the giant footsteps of so many prior servant leaders who have so capably led this body. 

I’m excited to lead this Council alongside my friend, Vice President Kate Stewart. Her regional reputation as chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, her time as mayor of Takoma Park, and her consensus-building leadership style will continue to serve this body well. She is already a great legislative partner, and I know we will make a great team serving our County and this Council together. 

To my dedicated team of public servants: Cindy Gibson, Matt Higgins, Angela Geer and Andrew Resnick: I’m grateful for all your hard work and energized by your commitment to serve our community for the betterment of our residents. 

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my overwhelming gratitude to my family: my fiancé Demi, my parents and my siblings. Your love and support mean everything to me. All that I am and everything I do is thanks to you, and because of you.

2023 Reflections  

As I look back on the first year of this historic 20th Council, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made united around several key priorities. 

We continued to tackle the housing crisis; implemented measures for a sustainable, greener future; bolstered support for local businesses; grew our biohealth sector; advanced safer roads; protected the healthcare commitments for our retirees; and maintained our long-running AAA bond rating.  

Looking Ahead 

During my term as Council president, we will continue to build on these efforts and take them to the next level with bold action. As we work toward our shared policy goals, transparency and accountability will be our governing doctrine.  

We will boldly embrace our oversight role like never before. That begins with our largest and most significant public investment, our schools. With unprecedented needs and finite resources, we must ensure every dollar is put to its best use to serve our greatest needs.   

Along with the two new inspector general positions dedicated exclusively to MCPS, we will work with state partners, the Office of Legislative Oversight and the Board of Education to ensure accountability for investments in educational outcomes. Gardez Bien, “Guard Well,” will not just be a County motto; it will be our guiding principle.

As we look forward, we must redouble our efforts to address our housing and climate crises to ensure our residents are healthy, housed, and that everyone in our community has an opportunity to prosper. 

We will continue to pursue innovative ways to produce and preserve housing that’s affordable, accessible, and serves the variety of needs in our community, and ensure it’s available where it’s most needed and wanted – with access to jobs, transit and educational opportunities.  

We will adopt more detailed, district-level housing targets so we can hold ourselves accountable for the 31,000 housing units we need before 2030, and we will utilize the most effective way we can simultaneously tackle our housing and climate challenges – with forward-looking and data-driven land-use and transportation policies.  

Instead of adding more bureaucratic red tape, we will remove unnecessary obstacles standing in the way of advancing our priorities. This must be a collaborative, all-hands-on-deck approach – abandoning what doesn’t work, embracing opportunities to innovate, and partnering with nonprofit and faith-based organizations to leverage resources so we can best support the common good together. 

As we recognize that we are at an inflection point, we will remain steadfast in our efforts to keep our community safe by supporting our public safety personnel and first responders. Moreover, we will continue to provide the resources needed for our faith-based and nonprofit organizations who are facing unprecedented threats, as they respond to the needs of our community. Let there be no doubt: Montgomery County will stand up to hate in all its forms.

Support for youngest and oldest residents 

As we plan for a sustainable future for our youngest residents, we must also respond to the needs of our older residents. 

That starts with delivering on our efforts to make universal early childcare a reality in Montgomery County. More than one year after creating an Early Care and Coordinating Entity, and nearly five years after the Early Care and Education Initiative was launched, quality early education and childcare is more important than ever before.  

On the other end of the spectrum, older adults are the fastest growing segment of our population with more than 31 percent of households with one or more residents 65 and older and 9,000 residents turning 65 years young every year. 

Montgomery County has been designated an Age-Friendly Community, but with the rising cost of living, the ability for older adults to age in place and live with dignity and vitality is becoming increasingly out of reach.  

I want to focus the year ahead on unleashing the potential of our aging adult population, so we can fulfill our capabilities as a County of vital aging and a Community for a Lifetime. 

In the coming weeks and months, we will be launching a series of initiatives – including the introduction of a targeted senior property tax credit – to realize this vision.

Economic development 

None of these priorities are possible unless we can afford to fund them, and that requires a thriving private sector economy.  

Part of developing new economic opportunities includes acknowledging the challenges we face and committing ourselves to go big and take bold action to attract new investments. We need to recognize the risks assumed and benefits created by our local employers who are the backbone of our communities. And we must understand that net negative taxpayer migration combined with historically high commercial vacancies present significant economic challenges moving forward. 

Montgomery County continues to be a special place with unparalleled assets that would be the envy of any other jurisdiction anywhere; however, we must acknowledge the increased regional and global competition we face. We must be intentional with our economic decision-making, recognizing that investors and residents have choices, so our actions here have consequences.  

Home to diverse and purpose-driven talent and unrivaled public and private assets, I know that we have what’s needed to stem the tide and ensure that Montgomery County emerges as a regional and global economic powerhouse.  

We will break away from the same old strategies that lead to the same old results. We will be strategic and intentional, and we will act with urgency.  

In the coming weeks, I’ll be announcing some key first steps that will show our commitment to a bold new economic development vision. We will be aggressive in attracting new business investments to grow our tax base and will fortify our longstanding local businesses who employ our friends and neighbors, give back to our communities and generate the revenue to support our public priorities.

Next Steps 

I look forward to working with all of you to build on the efforts we’ve made and take our progress to the next level. I am humbled to serve this body and our County as the current caretaker of this chair on this storied dais.  

I’m excited for this new chapter, as we strive to make Montgomery County more attractive and competitive for new and legacy businesses, more equitable and welcoming for all our neighbors, and a beacon of light and hope for everyone in our community, especially our youngest and oldest residents. 

Thank you, and let’s get to work!

# # #

Release ID: 23-405
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7926, Genevieve Kurtz 240-777-7805
Categories: Andrew Friedson, Kate Stewart