March 22, 2024

Message from the County Executive


Dear Friends,

I am in Taiwan this week with County Council Vice President Kate Stewart and others for the 2024 Smart City Summit & Expo. It is the second consecutive year I have attended this event and I look forward to sharing more about this trip in next week’s video.

For our weekly video this week, County Chief Administrative Officer Rich Madaleno sat down with Commander Amy Daum of the Montgomery County Police Department and Chief Dee Howard Richards of the County Fire and Rescue Service. They talked about roles for women within their respective departments and some of the challenges they faced. I encourage you to watch the video posted above and share it with others.

Take Two in Taiwan:

After travelling to Taiwan, India and Vietnam last year, I realized that while the initial connections are essential, these important relationships need to maintained and expanded. In many cultures, business comes through trust, and trust is formed through consistent communication and contact.

For the second year in a row, I was invited to speak about Montgomery County’s Climate Change initiatives to a global audience at the Taipei Computer Association’s (TCA) Net Zero City Leaders Summit. It was held as part of the TCA Smart Cities Summit and Expo. Montgomery County has featured visibility as the only county in the U.S. participating in this manner. This year, Montgomery County was made a cosponsor and the summit organizers agreed to cover most of our costs.

Council Vice President Stewart is chair of the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy and Audit committees and also serves on the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee. Jon Monger, the County’s Department of Environmental Protection director, and Judy Costello, our special projects manager for Business, Innovation and Economic Development, also attended. Judy does an amazing job organizing these trade missions. She works tirelessly to fill every minute of our time with potential opportunities that can benefit Montgomery County businesses, residents, students and the future of our economy.

We leveraged the speaking opportunity at the TCA Smart Cities Summit to raise the profile of Montgomery County and its advanced technology industries on the international stage. We sought to recruit companies or universities interested in establishing/expanding their U.S. presence to consider Montgomery County. We also worked to build relationships and share best practices among business, academic and government leaders in sustainability, information technology, innovation, transportation and other smart cities areas.

At the Smart Cities Summit, I shared our environmental successes with leaders from around the world. I talked about our Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS), which are designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. The County also is committed to revamping our transit system so all buses run on clean energy instead of fossil fuels.

We are taking advantage of new technologies to combat climate change and fulfill our Climate Action Plan goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035. We cannot change the world on our own, but we can show other jurisdictions and our residents how much can be done if we all do our part.

Last year’s visit to Taiwan resulted in two companies joining the Rockville Innovation Center and receiving State of Maryland Global Gateway Grants. We are following up with companies and universities interested in doing business in Montgomery County we met last year.

Similar to our past trade missions, we are once again finding out that our County’s diversity is our greatest strength. No matter where go, people know about Montgomery County because they have lived or visited here or know a family member, friend or co-worker who has. I have learned on my trips that is much easier to lead businesses to Montgomery County when there is good word of mouth coming from company leaders who have already made the transition here.

I look forward to sharing more with you about this trip next week.

Know What to Recycle and Where—and What Goes in the Trash

We celebrated Global Recycling Day this week. It is just the seventh time that the Global Recycling Foundation has marked the day to highlight recycling heroes and educate the public on the continued benefits of recycling.

One way every family can help fight climate change is by focusing on our quick-fix, throwaway consumer culture. If we commit to limiting as much waste as possible, it could make a massive difference.

In Montgomery County, there has been an increase in the amount of non-recyclable items being sent in for recycling. These items can contaminate what can be reused leading to more waste.

Below are the items we most often see inappropriately placed in blue recycling – you can click on the links to learn more about what to do with them:
  • Plastic Bags, Plastic Film or Shrink Wrap. These cannot go in the recycling bins, but you may be able to recycle them at a grocery store.
  • Hazardous or Toxic Product Containers like containers for herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and automotive fluids. Some of these can start fires and are dangerous in the trash, but you can dispose of them at the transfer stations.
  • Electronics like computers, keyboards and TVs. They can be dropped off to be recycled.
  • Styrofoam® or Polystyrene, which are often used in mail packaging. Those usually just go in the trash, so try to reduce the use of these. Also note: packing material is very often marked #6 PS and #6 materials are not allowed in recycling.
  • Used medical supplies like needles, IV bags or medical equipment tubing, must be disposed of separately.
We have worked hard to ensure Montgomery County continues to expand the type of recycling we accept. The Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station takes many items that can be recycled, but cannot go in the curbside recycle bins. These items include scrap metal, mattresses, medical equipment, some building materials and clothing. Lightbulbs and batteries are accepted at the transfer station, which is in Derwood and is open seven days a week. Visit and click on the How Do I Recycle section for a handy resource on how to dispose of many types of items.

Expanding Our Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams

During the  media briefing this week, we highlighted that my recommended Fiscal Year 2025 operating budget expands our mobile crisis outreach teams (MCOTs.)

These are teams of licensed clinicians and peer support specialists who respond to calls for individuals in an acute mental health crisis and a mental health response is needed. Calls come directly to the Crisis Center or from public safety.

We currently have three of these teams that are available to respond 24/7, but they cannot always respond in a timely fashion. We are currently recruiting for two more teams, and if my recommended FY25 operating budget is approved by the County Council, we will fund a total of seven teams.   

Over the last year, the three teams have responded to 2,100 calls for assistance. That number reflects a post-pandemic spike in mental health concerns and behavioral health distress.

The County receives more than 40,000 phone calls to the Crisis Center yearly. The MCOTs respond to 30 to 40 percent of calls on their own, but in other cases, the teams may request police or police may arrive at a scene and request the MCOTs. Referrals also come from schools, shelters and paramedics.

This program is not new, but as the public discussion about mental health expands there is more recognition of the need for these services. I am proud that we have been able to secure grant funding to support expansion. I look forward to seeing this team grow and help more people in Montgomery County.

If you are in need of help dealing with a mental health crisis or know of someone who needs help, call the Crisis Center at 240-777-4000 any time day or night
County Women Honored by Maryland Commission for Women

The Maryland Commission for Women this week honored a new Hall of Fame class and celebrated young female leaders.

The group is marking several firsts for Maryland by recognizing Susan Lee as the first Asian American to serve as Maryland’s Secretary of State, first Asian American elected to the Senate and first Chinese American elected to the General Assembly.

She is part of a strong group from Montgomery County including Aruna Miller, the second woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor and the first woman of color and the first immigrant elected to statewide office in Maryland.

Brooke Lierman is the first woman to hold the office of Maryland comptroller. She is the first woman independently elected to a constitutional office in the State.

The County's inspector general, Megan Davey Limarzi, and Circuit Court Judge Lili Khozeimeh were honored as well. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School senior Brooke Silver was selected as a 2024 Maryland Young Leader. She is editor-in-chief for the student-run newspaper and is president of the group “Once Upon A Prom,” which helped outfit more than 200 Children's Hospital patients for the facility's first prom in more than 30 years.

Thank you to the Maryland Department of Human Services and the State Commission for Women for highlighting the important work of these women on behalf of our State for Women's History Month. Here is a link to previous winners honored by the commission.

Death of Larry Levitan

We have lost a longtime Montgomery County leader in Larry Levitan. The former State delegate and senator served for more than 20 years before retiring in 1994. He was chair of the Senate Budget Taxation Committee. More of his political career is detailed here.

He helped develop many projects around Montgomery County and his influence carried on long after.

On behalf of the County he served, my condolences go to the Levitan family.

Committee Evaluation and Review Board Applicants Sought

The County is in search of 11 people to fill vacancies on the Committee Evaluation and Review Board (CERB.) The CERB oversees the County’s boards, committees, commissions and task forces. It reports to the County Executive and County Council.

This evaluation is crucial to enacting change and making the system work better. The last time the CERB was formed was in 2012. It produced a report you can read here.

Applicants of diverse backgrounds, professions, genders, geography, abilities, ethnicities and ages are encouraged to apply. You can read more about the process HERE.

You can find out about all the open boards, committees and commissions here.

Health Report

There are fewer reports of most respiratory illnesses this week, including COVID-19. The exception is the flu.

More flu cases are being seen in school-age children and teens, leading to a slight increase in emergency room and clinic visits, but not hospitalizations.

Stay home if you are sick and continue to practice good hygiene like washing your hands frequently.

Cherry Blossoms in Montgomery County

Did you know that you can enjoy cherry blossom season without leaving the County? Use the Visit MoCo app to learn which areas of the County are ripe with cherry trees and other gardens to explore.

The Visit MoCo app can help find things to do or help guide you through a Cherry Blossom Road Trip without going anywhere near the Tidal Basin in traditionally crowded Downtown Washington.

Speaking of spending time outside: Please heed the warnings issued by our Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OMEHS.) Over the past week, it has issued a Red Flag Warning for fire danger and a Hypothermia Alert because overnight temperatures were below freezing. Follow this link for more information from the OMEHS and always stay up-to-date on warnings by signing up for Alert Montgomery.

As always, my appreciation for all of you,

Marc Elrich
County Executive