Commission makes recommendations for Montgomery County government structure

I-270

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — In 1990, the Montgomery County Council grew from seven members to nine members, and the structure hasn’t changed since then.

The current structure has five members, each voted in by district, and four at large council members, who represent the entire county. This year, the Charter Review Commission took a close look at this structure, and how a change to a nine-person council, with members all voted in by district, could benefit residents.

“We voted to recommend the current structure of the council be maintained. The foremost reason is that citizens benefit from being able to vote for five members that directly represent them on the council,” said chair of the CRC, George Margolies.

The recommendation to maintain the status quo comes after the CRC heard the opinions of many on both sides. The full report can be viewed here.

Dissenters say the county’s population growth has made it hard for councilmembers to keep up with constituents and be responsive to issues and requests. The majority opinion of the CRC refutes this.

“What makes one think that a councilmember is likely to be more responsive by reducing the number of constituents in his or her district if he or she were not responsive before?,” said Margolies.

The CRC says the answer isn’t more districts, but more support staff to help direct and respond to inquiries.

“During the time that the Council’s population grew 30 percent over the past 25 years, the Council’s central staff grew by only 3 percent,” said Margolies.

Neighboring counties have followed Montgomery’s lead when it comes to council structure. Prince George’s and Frederick counties have both adapted hybrid structures of council government.

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