Search is on again for Montgomery Co. health officer after top pick backs out

For the third time, Montgomery County’s top pick for the Health Officer position has backed out, leaving the Maryland county to continue its search to fill the role that has been vacant since September.

In a letter to County Council President Gabe Albornoz, Department of Health and Human Services Director Raymond Crowel said the candidate is withdrawing from consideration due to personal matters that make it difficult to “fully focus on a new role or relocate to a new state.”

Crowel said that the candidate has had another offer in another jurisdiction but the preferred choice was Montgomery County.

“Sadly, this leaves us with the challenged of resuming our search for a strong candidate for this crucial position,” Crowel said, adding the importance of ensuring the county’s compensation package at the “top of the competitive scale.”

Albornoz, who also leads the council’s health and human services committee, told WTOP that the news is disappointing, and he expressed frustration that the job hasn’t been filled.

The position has been vacant since Dr. Travis Gayles, who helped navigate Maryland’s most populous county through the coronavirus pandemic, resigned. Dr. James Bridgers has been acting health officer since that time.

Last month, it appeared that Montgomery County was poised to name a new health officer after two previous candidates backed out. County Executive Marc Elrich said that the choice had been sent to the Maryland Department of Health for approval.

“We will continue our efforts to identify additional candidates,” Crowel said.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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