Photo courtesy Council President Riemer
Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At Large) has been unanimously elected as president of the County Council for a one-year term.
Riemer, who previously served as vice president, succeeds Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-District 1). Traditionally, the vice president is elevated to the presidency after serving a one-year term.
Riemer, who is entering his eighth year on the council, is the council’s lead member for digital government on the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and on the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee.
He has been a strong advocate for funding public education and public transportation, early childhood programs, libraries, recreation, human services, housing and economic development, according to a council press release.
“Early childhood [education] is the main priority that I hope to work with colleagues to make some progress on,” Riemer said in an interview with the Source. “I’ve got lots of issues I’m continuing to work on around transportation, and housing, schools, so I think my priorities in some ways become the council’s priorities.
“No question, funding schools and school construction is going to be our number one priority this year,” he continued. “Continuing to invest in transportation infrastructure [and] public transportation is going to be another major area for us. We’re doing all this with constrained revenues and fiscal challenges as we always are, so [we’ll be] just working through difficult budget choices and keeping the priority focus on the issues that people in the community really care about.”
Riemer also chaired the council’s Ad-hoc Committee on Liquor Control, which evaluated and recommended changes to alcohol distribution in the county.
“We have long been known as one America’s most appealing, if exclusive, suburban communities,” Riemer said in remarks following his election. “Our leaders often sought to guard us from the changes happening around us. But that is not what or who we are any more. We are changing for the better, and we must continue to change in order to stay relevant. Let us guard our values while embracing change, because we are not just suburban Montgomery, we are inclusive, metropolitan Montgomery.
“People used to come here to get away from the city. Now I hear from residents that they want to be closer to restaurants and entertainment, they want streets that are safe for walking and biking, they want more access to public transportation,” he added.
Riemer also discussed the need to improve communications and increase public participation.
To that end, Riemer announced a new subscription tool that allows the public to get updates on individual bills as they move through the legislative process. For example, click on Council Records on the council’s home page, then Bills, then each bill by number to get a summary and a box in which to subscribe to updates on that bill.
“This feature will enable residents to be notified when particular legislation moves to public hearing, is scheduled or rescheduled for committee, and goes to a council vote,” Riemer said.
“The subscribe tool is a great metaphor for how we should be thinking about communicating with the public.”
At the same council session, Councilmember Nancy Navarro (D-District 4) was elected council vice president.