Barely a bureaucrat batted an eyelash this week as the Montgomery County Council changed leadership.
Secretaries scribbled in their notebooks and visiting school children shifted in the council chamber's wooden seats as 34-year-old Scott Fosler assumed command of the seven-member council.
Fosler, freshmen member and former council vice president, smoothly turned the talk from traffic lights to landfills to condominium legislation following the election of Ruth Spector of his vice president.
No one was surprised last week when the all-Democratic council, now in its second year of running the wealthy suburban county, unanimously elected Fosler to succeed fellow Chevy Chase resident Neal Potter as president. A long-standing Montgomery County tradition dictates that the council vice president follows the president to the podium.
But the council deadlocked in a three-way split on who would be the next vice-president. That office is now viewed as a prime political spot because its holder will become president the year before the next countywide election and be in a key position to campaign.
Council newcomer Michael Gudis and veteran council member Elizabeth Scull competed with Spector for the vice presidency last week. This week, Gudis withdrew in favor of Spector, a Rockville social worker and former aide to County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist. Spector received five votes and Scull received two.
Spector, 49-year-old mother of three grinned with pleasure at her election.
"I will continue to work with you to make sure the council works as effectively in the future as it has in the past" she said.
Gilchrist praised Spector as "a capable woman and a good friend." He also lauded Fosler as an excellent choice for council president and expressed gratitude to outgoing president Neal Potter.
"We couldn't have made it through the first year without him," Gilchrist said.
Gudis later said he withdrew because he would rather be in the council's liaison in Annapolis than vice president.
"I haven't closed the door. I could still be vice president in 1981 and president in '82," said the Silver Spring accountant.
In the county's Rockville headquarters, employes who work closely with the council seemed unruffled by the change of command.
"He's a typical Montgomery County politician," one county worker said of fair-haired, bespectacled Fosler. He's clean, conservative and thorough."
Other lauded Fosler, the youngest council member, for what they described as his penchant for detail and his well thought-out decisions.
"He's my favorite. I like him because he blushes," said council staff member Sandy McGee.
Fosler, his tall, lean frame clad in somber three-piece suits, generally maintains a cool reserve even through the most emotionally charged public hearing.
Fosler still works as a specialist in the government productivity for the Committee for Economic Development, a nonprofit research group headquartered in New York. His aides say he plans to continue the job despite the added duties of council president.