Norman L. Christeller yesterday said he would resign from the Montgomery County Council, becoming the second influential member this month to announce plans to step down.
Like Dickran Y. Hovsepian, who two weeks ago said he would not seek re-election, Christeller cited weariness with Montgomery-style open government as one of the reasons for leaving. The endless evening meetings, the angry public hearings and relentless demands of community organizations took their toll on both men.
"If I don't have a Council meeting in the evening I have to speak to a PTA group, a civic association, or go over county business," Christeller said. "What's our social life?"
This was the second - and final - resignation announcement for Christeller who has sat on the Council since 1970. Last year he said he would leave to become inspector general for the Agriculture Department. But that job fell through and since then he has been having a hard time pushing himself, he said.
On Feb. 8, he begins his new job is with a Washington law firm where he will be a management consultant. Christeller said he also hopes to land consultant positions with the federal government and another private company.
The 10 months between resignation announcements was a rough period, Christeller said, a time when he found the normal rigors too demanding.
"Once I made the decision (to leave), it was hard to change it. It was hard to put in that 75th or 80th hour of work. I was finding I was having to push myself and that was troublesome," said Christeller.
The 54-year-old councilman hid his weariness from the other Council members. Council President Elizabeth Scull called him "one of the hardest working and most productive of members."
He was and that is why he feels he must resign soon. "I either have to leave now or wait until after the budget is finished on May 15," he said.
Christeller said he would not miss the political life.
"Our high decree of citizen input results in confrontation - a process that is not effective," he contended. In the course of public hearings "many community leaders will take an extreme position . . . we end up accommodating their concerns instead of doing what we think is right for our county. That's unfortunate."
Since some of his complaints paralled those of Hovsepian, Christeller's resignation announcement adds to the criticism of the county's "good government!" system that requires part-time council members to work into the morning hours for citizens who earnestly want to be heard.
Christeller also has been a critic of Republican County Executive James P. Gleason and once considered a challenge for the office. But to the "great relief" of his wife, Christeller decided against such a move.
"The wives of Council Members have a hard time. They take much of the abuse. When people call me and she tells them I'm not home, they immediately think she's lying and they let it all out on her," he said.