A long-time county employee has been appointed to a new position aimed at improving communication between the county board’s office and the county council.
Ken Hartman, who was director of the Bethesda / Chevy Chase Regional Services Center for more than 13 years, was unanimously named director of strategic partnerships on Tuesday.
His salary will be $ 171,648, according to a memo from County Executive Marc Elrich. Hartman started his new role on Tuesday.
The district council members, who voted unanimously for the appointment on Tuesday, were initially divided as to whether the position was even needed when Elrich applied for it more than a year ago.
But county president Tom Hucker said Tuesday that the job description has changed since Elrich first proposed it.
âIt has evolved a bit and I think all of my colleagues think we all need better communication from the executive. â¦ I think it will help to know the executive’s position on legislationâ¦ faster than in the past, âsaid Hucker.
Hartman said in an interview that his new position will improve collaboration and communication not only between the executive branch and the district council, but also between the district departments and offices.
According to an initial memo of the opening, the Director of Strategic Partnerships is a legislative liaison for the county board’s office. The Director follows and reviews all of the District Board’s political positions on local law and provides, among other things, input and advice to the District Board and the Chief Administrative Officer on such matters.
Hartman said the pandemic has shown that many authorities can work better with one another and “across silos”. Information has flowed more freely between these authorities and the district departments, which has resulted in better services for the district’s residents, he added.
This included helping the Department of Recreation with food distribution and helping the county’s regional service centers obtain information about the coronavirus pandemic, including vaccine distribution, Hartman said.
Prior to Tuesday’s council vote, Hucker and councilor Andrew Friedson praised Hartman for his leadership role in the ward and county government.
In addition to serving as Director of Regional Services at Bethesda, he was Chief of Staff to former Councilor Howard Denis, Legislative Analyst for the entire Council, and Senior Legislative Advisor to former Councilor Betty Ann Krahnke. He also held senior leadership positions for the City of Rockville.
âI think the traffic jam broke when they announced the candidates. â¦ It’s not just about having the job, it’s about having the right person, âsaid Hartman of the initial skepticism about the job. âIf it’s someone you trust and support, it helps you imagine how the position will be successful. It’s more difficult when it’s a blank slate. “
Councilor Will Jawando agreed, referring to his work in the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think that made us all feel good about the position, and he especially felt about it,” Jawando said in an interview.
Introducing practices that have worked long-term during the pandemic will be a major challenge in the coming months, he said.
“There is an urge to go back to normal and I think fortunately … people have lived in the ‘COVID model’ of collaboration and improved communication for the past 15 months,” said Hartman. âThe challenge is to use the knowledge gained [and] the models followed and made them permanent. “
Steve Bohnel can be reached at [email protected]