Thomas Hamilton, director of Montgomery County's Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs, announced this week that he is resigning from his office and will seek an at-large seat on the county council.
Hamilton, 32, Silver Spring resident, had threatened to resign from the directorship last August when the county executive proposed placing his office under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment Protection and trasnferring some of the responsibilities of Hamilton's office to environmental protection.
The council voted last week to approve County Executive James P. Gleason's proposals - a move, according to Gleason's chief assistant William Hussmann, which was aimed at ending turf battles between the two agencies and the personality clashes between Hamilton and environmental protection's director, Frances Abrams.
But at a press conference announcing his candidacy, Hamilton said his move was not prompted by his recent dispute with the county government's executive staff.
"Frankly, I don't believe it's possible for a person who heads an office as controversial as Landlord-Tenant Affairs to simultaneously run for public office . . . In at least three instances, with two tenants and one landlord, those persons indicated that it would be in my bes (political)interest to look favorably on their cases," Hamilton said.
In an interview Hamilton said, "I don't want the public to interpret this (candidacy) as an attempt on my part to get back at the county government."
The former director said he decided to resign because the executive's directive had stripped his office of any enforcement powers.
If elected, Hamilton said he would work for a county housing department. He said he also favors voluntary rent control.
"But the key issue is decisions. This council just won't make decisions," said Hamilton. " . . . They deliberated two years over a place to place Montgomery County's sludge . . . They studied at great expense a proposal to ship the sludge - by train - to Ohio. Not once did a council member stand up and say this was foolhardy . . . Nobody would bite the bullet."
So far, Hamilton has no challengers for the at-large seat since council members John Menke and Norman Christeller have both said they will not seek re-election to their current offices.
Hamilton, a native of Nebraska, has never before held elective office. Though he says he is a registered independent, he is seeking election as a Democrat.
"I would certainly describe myself as a conservative Democrat," he said.