After Latest Candidate Withdrawal, County Continues Search for New Health Officer  

The search for a new Montgomery County health officer continues after the latest candidate withdrew as the county’s choice. 

In April, County Executive Marc Elrich said officials’ third candidate was in the process of being interviewed by the state before moving forward with his appointment. Now, that candidate has withdrawn.

Officials are not ready to move forward with another candidate at this time, County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Raymond Crowel said during a media briefing Wednesday. The county will consult a list of potential candidates and continue to search nationwide.

Dr. James Bridgers is currently Acting Health Officer. Dr. Travis Gayles, the county’s previous health officer, resigned last September. He received racist and hate-filled emails from those who disagreed with his policies as he led the county’s decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

County Council President Gabe Albornoz noted earlier this year that the second finalist ultimately declined the position due to concern over rhetoric and attacks surrounding public health officials nationally.

“I think a lot of things are happening, I think the health officer job was a lot more attractive when it looked like COVID was going away,” County Executive Marc Elrich said Wednesday. He said many are going to the private sector where they would not risk public exposure. 

“I think there’s kind of a hesitancy to step into something which can be highly controversial and that’s a problem,” Elrich said.

The county is also looking at potential options to broaden the candidate pool, Crowel said. He guesses it will be several months before another candidate is selected.

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