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By Neal Earley @neal_earley
New Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s three appointees to head government agencies were all unanimously approved by the County Council.
On Tuesday, the County Council unanimously approved Elrich’s three appointees, Robin Riley as Director of Department of Recreation, Rich Madaleno as Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Andrew Kleine as Chief Administrative Officer.
While their approval is not a surprise, even with differences between members of the Council and Elrich on several issues, members of the Council heaped praised on all three choices, saying they were impressed with what each one could bring to the County.
Kleine, who previously served as the budget director for the City of Baltimore, was Elrich’s first appointee, even before Elrich was sworn in on Dec. 3. Kleine helped guide Baltimore through fiscal problems during the 2009 recession. Elrich touted Kleine for his fiscal prudence and said he appointed him to the position for his fiscal conservatism in budgeting.
“I wanted someone, you know, to serve in this office who had a really strong sense of budget and what’s feasible,” Elrich said. “And I wasn’t necessarily looking for a mirror, because I think mirrors are really bad things to have around you.”
Kleine, who is replacing Timothy Firestine as CAO, previously worked as both budget director for the City of Baltimore and spent 15 years working on budget in the federal government at the U.S. Department of Transportation and White House Office of Management and Budget and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
During his interview with the County Council, Kleine talked about aggressively enforcing the County’s housing codes, doing a better job of assisting small businesses, and implementing the County’s planned and proposed bus rapid transit systems.
“I think, as Marc [Elrich] has said, policy should be both data-driven and compassionate,” Kleine said. “And I just want to make sure that this is not our money. We’re spending other people’s money and I’m very mindful of that.”
Joining Kleine in the Elrich administration is Rich Madaleno, who previously served as state senator representing District 18, which includes parts of Bethesda, Kensington and Wheaton. Madaleno served in the General Assembly, in both the Senate and House of Delegates, for 16 years.
In 2018, Madaleno decided to forgo reelection in favor of a gubernatorial bid, losing in the Democratic Primary.
Madaleno takes over as budget director while the County is in the middle of fiscal challenges; he will help direct Elrich’s budget as he is planning to propose $41 million in budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2019.
Madaleno said that his experience as a member of the General Assembly will help him as the Country’s budget director, as he wants to work with members of the Council on budget issues.
“Having been an elected official, having been a legislator, I’m used to an environment where you have to foster collaborative relationships if you want to get anything done,” Madaleno said.
Robin Riley will be replacing Gabe Albornoz (D-at large) as director of the Department of Recreation, as Albornoz left his post after being elected to the Council.
Riley is a veteran of the Department of Recreation, working there for 30 years, serving as the department’s recreation division chief for the last 15 years. Albornoz, who worked with Riley at the Department of Recreation, gave his endorsement to her appointment.
“She showed tremendous leadership and is one of the most remarkable public servants that I had the opportunity to ever work with,” Albornoz said.
Riley, who has worked in the Department of Recreation for 30 years, said she wanted to expand afterschool programs and guide the department’s budget through her tenure.
“This is an exciting new role to take on,” Riley said. “I am appreciative of the opportunity to work with the new administration in Montgomery County and ensure that the Recreation Department maintains and grows its integral role in the quality of life for our residents.”