In Rare Move, Elrich Vetoes One Council Appointment to Planning Board

County Executive Marc Elrich invoked a rarely used executive power on Friday and vetoed James Hedrick’s appointment to the county’s Planning Board by the County Council.

Hedrick was appointed by the council at its Feb. 28 meeting, one of three appointments approved that day.

In a March 24 letter to the council, Elrich wrote, “In the nuanced work of planning, there is a need to recognize the opinions and lived experiences of others and to come to the table ready to work together. During my interview with Mr. Hedrick, he made it clear that he has no interest in doing this difficult work.

“Instead, his comments to me, as well as on social media, demonstrate an ideological close-mindedness as well as a disdain for those whose views do not comport with his,” Elrich continued.

Elrich also expressed his belief that Hedrick, rather than helping to provide a new board with a fresh start, would perpetuate “the toxic atmosphere that permeated the defunct Planning Board at all levels, including social media.”

Council President Evan Glass issued a statement in response to Elrich’s action.

“I am disappointed that County Executive Elrich disapproved James Hedrick’s appointment to the Montgomery County Planning Board,” the statement reads. “Mr. Hedrick received affirmative votes from a supermajority of councilmembers to become a Planning Board member on Feb. 28. The Council will discuss County Executive Elrich’s decision on Tuesday, March 28 during our regularly scheduled meeting.

“The Council takes the role of appointing individuals to the Planning Board extremely seriously. We will act swiftly and deliberatively, as we remain focused on maintaining the essential work of the Planning Board,” Glass concluded.

The last time a council appointment was vetoed was in 1986, according to Adam Pagnucco, writing in Montgomery Perspective.

At that time, the council appointed Rosalie Silverberg, a civic activist from Bethesda, to the board. County Executive Charles Gilchrist vetoed the appointment because the other four board members were also from Bethesda and the Executive desired geographic diversity,” Pagnucco wrote in 2018.

The appointment instead went to Silver Spring’s Nance Floreen, who served on the board until running for, and winning, four terms on the County Council.

The council could override Elrich’s veto, but it would take nine votes to do it, meaning Hedrick’s backers would have to find one more councilmember to support him.

Montgomery Planning headquarters photo

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