Ruth Spector, a loyalally and former aide of Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist, was elected president of the County Council by her colleagues yesterday.
Spector, 45, was Gilchrist's legislative aide for three years during his term as a Maryland state senator. In her two years as council member, she voted against Gilchrist only once, when Gilchrist proposed that the council repeal "bottle bill" legislation calling for a deposit of five cents on every bottle of beer of soda sold in the country.
During Gilchrist's troubles with the events that have come to be known as "Liquorgate," Spector consistently has supported Gilchrist's views at Council meetings. In August, for example, after the council returned from vacation, Gilchrist met with the members to defend himself and his aides against charges made by his former liquor consultant, Leonard I. Colodny. Each time that Gilchrist said something about how ridiculous Colodny's charges were, Spector giggled appreciatively.
One month later, Colodny spoke to the council for two hours about how he had been offered a job by Gilchrist and about favoritism in the purchasing practices of the Department of Liquor Control. Some council members asked Colodny questions and prodded him for more information, but Spector said only, "Well, now we can get on to other things," as though she were at last rid of an annoying itch.
Gilchrist's aide, Gerry Evans, said Gilchrist was pleased about Spector's new post as president of the council, but said he doubted that Spector's position would help Gilchrist get through "Liquorgate."
"This thing," said Evans, "has a life of its own." Spector is a former social worked who has a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She replaces Scott Fosler as council president. Fosler, who has tried to make government in Montgomery County somewhat more efficient, also is a strong supporter of Gilchrist.
Two council members -- Esther Gelman and Michael Gudis -- voted against Spector. Gelman, a friend and neighbor of Spector, nevertheless has been a constant critic of Gilchrist. Gelman nominated Gudis for president of the council, saying that Gudis "goes out of his way to listen to all sides." Gudis, who voted for himself, often seems to wait to see how Gelman votes before casting his vote.
Veteran council member, Elizabeth Scull was elected vice chairman of the council by a unanimous vote. Scull, who was president of the council several years ago, was ill for several months recently while she was being treated for cancer.
When council members raised their hands to vote for Scull, she looked around, saw her colleagues' raised hands, and finally raised hers.
Throughout the process of nominating a council president and vice president, council members expressed unusual fondness for each other.
The council members praised Spector for her "patience and fairness" and Scull for her "ability to make decisions quickly."