After meeting virtually since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing Council building renovations, Montgomery County Councilmembers issued a statement today announcing that in-person public meetings would resume on November 9, 2022. When asked about the obvious timing immediately following the County’s elections, Council spokesperson Mark Meword responded, “it’s just purely coincidental. The contractor expects the renovations to be complete by that date.”
Council Education and Culture Committee Chair Rice indicated “the timing is actually perfect as it will allow for our trailblazing MCPS teachers and students to have more than one full in-person school year under their belt before we return.” Fellow Committee Member Navarro added “it is very important to ensure the renovation of the hearing room is finished in order for the Council dais to accommodate the additional two district Councilmembers. We wouldn’t want them to be in an overcrowded facility or short a seat.” In an email to Bethesda Bonfire, Council Staff indicated they considered a temporary solution while waiting for the project to be done, but ultimately deemed it fiscally problematic, noting “do you know how much portables cost?”
When asked about the delay, At-Large Councilmember Jawando, who is running for re-election, responded that it actually worked out well since “it wouldn’t be fair if current members picked their seats before the two new district members were elected to fight over where they wanted to sit.”
At-Large Councilmember Riemer was quick to point out that the ability to continue to work virtually from home in the meantime also meant Councilmembers could easily embody the concept of 15-minute living, which is a major theme of Thrive 2050, the County’s proposed general plan. Riemer, who is currently running for County Executive, said he appreciated not having to make the “trek from Takoma Park to the Council offices in Northern North Bethesda” for in-person Council meetings and public hearings, as it allowed him more time for in-person campaigning. “It is so much better to raise a glass of locally brewed Silver Branch Metro Gnome beer with supporters at in-person fundraising events instead of on zoom,” he noted.