Setting an optimistic tone for his administration, Charles W. Gilchrist, the new Montgomery County executive called yesterday for reducing government costs in a way that "avoids inequitable burdens" and increasing cooperation with local, state and federal governments.
Yesterday's swearing-in ceremonies at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville gave Montgomery an all-Democratic cast of local elected government officials for the first time since the executive-council form of government went into effect in 1970.
After they signed the official county roll, Gichrist and Council members Rose Crenca, Scott Fosler, Esther Gelman, Michael Gudis, Neal Potter, Elizabeth Scull and Ruth Spector were introducted to a cheering crowed of about 1,000 by County District Judge John McAuliffe, a Gilchrist campaign coordinator until his appointment to the court.
Gilchrist's 10-minute speech summarizing his campaign themes noticeably lacked the skepticism and criticism of government frequently voiced by his Republican predecessor, James P. Gleason.
The goal of government "is rooted in the hope that it can represent and respond to people and that, in partnership with private and individual effort, can lead to a better community," Gilchrist said.
Predicting that the tone of his administration will differ sharply from Gleason's, Gilchrist paid tribute to his predecessor for the "standard he set... He was honest, compassionate and determined."
"Not the least valuable part of his legacy is his sense of Celtic outrage that he could not do more," Gilchrist said of Gleason. "Well, I assure him and you, that we will keep trying."
Speaking for the council, council member Scull praised Gilchrist for "the good working relationship" the incoming council already has established with him. "For the past eight years, two all-Democratic councils and Republican Gleason frequently tangled over programs and style."
"The fact that we are on one team, so to speak, will help smooth the way," Scull said later. "We made a big point of this in our campaigns. Here we are and, by George, we are going to work together."
The new-found harmony among Democrats, who united for the first time in eight years to sweep the local elections, has been so pervasive that no battle has developed for council president. The most likely candidate to be elected today is Potter, a thirdterm incumbent.
Unlike Prince George's, where competition for the job began immediately after the election, council members in Montgomery were "just getting around to that subject" yesterday, as one of them put it.
The "accepted practice"in Montgomery has been to elect an incumbent to the one-year president's post, said outgoing president Scull. She said she is recommending Potter, although she is willing to take the job again herself. No other candidates have emerged among the three incumbents and four newcomers.
Present at the 90-minute ceremony to pay tribute to the united Democratic Party was U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), a former law partner of Gilchrist's, and Acting Gov. Blair Lee III, who climbed the political leader from Montgomery but lost his bid for governor last month.
Both Sarbanes and Lee received standing ovations, and Lee was besieged with autograph seekers after the ceremony.
Lee's son, Blair Lee IV, who helped manage his father's losing campaign and has subseuqnetly indicated his own interest in politics, has applied for a job in the Gilchrist administration. Gilchrist is considering him for a job as the county's lobbyist in Annapolis.
Although Gilchrist has announced only two appointments to his government, there are indications that his administration will be more partisan than Gleason's. Insisting on merit alone, Gleason never asked the party affiliation of the men and women he appointed as department heads and special assistants, and some of his chief aides were Democrats.
In his first briefing with outgoing county administrative officer William Hussman, Gilchrist asked the partisan connection of the department heads. Hussman told him that he didn't know