Council Committees to Discuss Open Health Officer Position 

Montgomery County Council committees will hold a joint session this month to discuss the status of the open county health officer position. 

The council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy (GO) and Health and Human Services (HHS) committees plan to meet Sept. 29, Council President Gabe Albornoz said during a council meeting Tuesday. The meeting was the first full council session following a recess. 

County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Dr. Raymond Crowel said after filling multiple senior-level jobs as DHHS Director, “nothing has been nearly as challenging as this one has turned out to be.” He said there are now three vacant county health officer positions in the state and several more officials intend to leave in the near future.

“It is still the great resignation that seems to be happening amongst health officers for all the reasons that we’ve already talked about many times,” Crowel said Tuesday. Albornoz noted early this year that a second finalist for the position ultimately declined due to concern over rhetoric and attacks surrounding public health officials nationally. 

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 COVID-19 decision-making. Dr. James Bridgers is currently Acting Health Officer.

In April, County Executive Marc Elrich said officials’ third candidate was in the process of being interviewed by the state, but that candidate also withdrew.

The county is interviewing a prospective candidate and Elrich is scheduled to meet with them, Crowel said. The county is working to set up an interview between the candidate and the state. The position is a joint appointment between the county and state.

Crowel said the county may have a nominee by the end of the month. He acknowledged the jurisdiction has “been down this path before” and lost candidates. 

“My sense at this point is that we have a candidate that is interested and has remained interested despite the complications of the job,” Crowel said.

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