Updated on Dec. 13.
By Sage Levy
Special to The Sentinel
ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery City Council unanimously elected Councilmember Sidney Katz to serve as president and Councilmember Tom Hucker as vice president for the upcoming term on Dec. 3.
Katz, who just completed a term as the council’s vice president, recently reached his fifth year of service within the county council. Councilmember Craig Rice nominated him during the nomination process.
“This is a man who has dedicated himself to service, who understands that bringing more folks to the discussion, especially those who may not even want to be a part, is incredibly important,” Rice said. “He understands that we need to have everyone’s voice at the table.”
During his time on the council, Katz served on the Mental Health Court Planning and Implementation Task Force, which in this past year created a Mental Health Problem Solving Court within the Montgomery County’s District and Circuit Courts. He also served as a chair of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, which aims to negate domestic violence in the community.
“He has a kind soul, he cares about people, and it’s indicative of all the ways he’s served our community,” Rice said.
Following his unanimous election, Katz addressed the council and community about his plans for his presidency.
“It is truly an honor to serve as your president. I want to be a positive leader because, with positive leadership, we can and will accomplish our shared goals,” Katz said.
Katz replaces Nancy Navarro, who served as president during the past term. Navarro, recognized as the county’s first Latina council member, passed several bills that have received attention for dealing with racial equity and discrimination. One of those bills, the Racial Equity and Social Justice Act of 2019, was signed into law later in the day by County Executive Marc Elrich.
During her final press conference on Nov. 25, Navarro hinted at her support for Katz to be the council president and hoped that he would have a smooth transition into the role.
“It has been for me, an honor, to look back in a year at all the change and see the body of work and see how productive we have been,” Navarro said.
Following the vote, Katz then went on to detail his priorities for the upcoming year, which include “continuing” to make Montgomery County more business-friendly and subsequently provide more “well-paying jobs” to the county. In his address, he also stated his support to Montgomery County Public Schools and efforts to expand public transit while working to reduce the county’s debt.
“I thank my colleagues for their confidence to elect me and for your support, as we continue to work to make Montgomery County the best it can be,” Katz said. “…As we work to increase our tax base, we must seize every opportunity to demonstrate that we are a great place to do business. We will make certain that the business community knows that Montgomery County is the place to start your business and to grow your business and to prosper.”
Hucker was nominated for the vice president role by Navarro and was also elected unanimously.
“He is known for getting the job done. In his 12 years of experience as an effective legislator, I believe he has truly led the charge on an extraordinary variety of policy issues,” said Navarro.
He served as a state delegate for from 2006 to 2014 before being elected to the council to represent District 5.
“I think what Tom brings is a real pragmatic way of finding solutions to our most vexing problems while reminding all of us that we have to be inclusive to make sure that every single voice is always taken into consideration,” Navarro said.
Hucker founded Progressive Maryland and currently serves as a board member of the Progressive States Network and as a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“I’m very excited about the year we’ve had, and I’m looking forward to the future,” said Hucker.
Both Katz and Hucker will serve a one-year term and will look to continue the momentum brought on by the council in the past year. As part of their other assignments, Katz will chair the council’s Public Safety Committee while Hucker will continue as chair of the council’s Transportation and Environment Committee.
“We face challenging times ahead. We need to do more with less,” Katz said. “We also face new and exciting times ahead. I welcome both the challenges and the excitement.”
Reporter José Umaña contributed to this report.