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Montgomery County has hired a consulting firm to conduct a nationwide search to fill several roles in the new County Executive administration.
Most notable among the vacancies is director of housing and community affairs. Since he has taken office Dec. 3, County Executive Marc Elrich has made housing code enforcement a priority. A critic of the previous housing director, Clarence Snuggs, Elrich has made good on his promise to replace him, as Snuggs was not retained when Elrich took office.
Now the County has hired Krauthammer and Associates, Inc., to help fill the new three new vacancies in the Elrich Administration. Along with housing director, the firm is looking for candidates to fill the roles of health and human services and library directors.
“We’re trying to get these positions filled as quickly and responsibly as possible by giving the search its due diligence,” said Ohene Gyapong, acting director for the Montgomery County Public Information Office.
As part of compensation for their services, Krauthammer and Associates will be paid 28.5 percent of the first-year salary for the salaries of the candidates they find to fill the three open slots. Gyapong said that the three open slots – housing, library and health and human services directors – may not be the only three open positions and that additional hires could be made.
Housing code enforcement has become an early priority for Elrich.
In response to many comments from residents complaining about the dilapidated housing they live in, saying the County does nothing to enforce clear violations, Elrich has promised stricter code enforcement. Citing a 2016 law he sponsored when he was on the County Council, Elrich promised to step up code enforcement, sending out a notice to property owners promising to increase the frequency and intensity of inspections two weeks ago.
The law the County Council passed in 2016, Bill 19-15, was driven by the fire and devastation at Flower Branch Apartments, where seven people died. The fire exposed the poor conditions that many low-income immigrants where living in, and an apartment complex that was out of code, with hundreds of violations that were never corrected.
“Unfortunately, two years after passage of that legislation, I am hearing similar concerns at my listening sessions,” Elrich said in a statement. “This cannot continue. That is why we are launching a housing code enforcement campaign.”
During one of his listening sessions in Silver Spring, a woman explained to Elrich that her apartment, which was filled with black mold and made her sick, went unaddressed by housing code inspectors. Elrich said the numerous complaints from residents about the lack of enforcement of housing code violations drove him to make it an early priority of his administration.
“This is one of the reasons why the housing department needs new leadership,” Elrich told her.
Elrich’s first nomination as County Executive – new Montgomery County Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Kleine – has followed Elrich’s lead in making housing enforcement a priority.
“We’ve heard a lot in Mark’s listening sessions from people who are living in conditions that should not exist in this County,” Kleine said. “Also, I have seen from the residents’ survey that code enforcement get low marks.”
Along with Kleine, Elrich nominated former Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno to be the County’s new budget director and Robin Riley to head the Department of Recreation, replacing Gabe Albornoz, who was elected to the County Council in 2018.
While the first three additions to the administration were achieved without a search firm, the County has used one before, paying a search firm to find Robert Dorfman to lead the Department of Liquor Control.