Looking ahead: Candidates for the new, temporary Planning Board interviewed in Montgomery Co.

After Tuesday’s vote on a contentious 30-year planning document known as Thrive2050, the Montgomery County Council interviewed 11 candidates to serve on the Maryland county’s Planning Board.

The group, chosen from a list of 128 people who applied, included several former members of the Planning Board.

Attorney Francoise Carrier served as the Planning Board Chair from 2010 to 2014. Amy Presley, a managing partner at a local real estate firm, served on the Planning Board from 2008 to 2016. Norm Dreyfus, executive vice president of a development group, served as a board member and as vice chair from 2009 to 2019.

Other candidates hoping to be appointed include former County Council member Cherri Branson; former legislative attorney at the Montgomery County Council Jeffrey Zyontz; and Barbara Goldberg Goldman, a former member of the county’s Housing Opportunities Commission and the former deputy treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party.

Candidates were asked how they would operate on the board, and several made clear that they understood their roles to be those of caretakers. Dreyfus said he saw the job of the temporary members to “make sure we do no harm, and tee up the process, in my view, for the next board that’s going to be long-term.”

Branson offered a similar take, saying members should “normalize, stabilize, play catch-up and set the table for the next group of people.”

Candidates were also asked what role the Planning Board should take when dealing with issues of racial equity and social justice.

Goldberg Goldman, who had been forced to resign from the state Democratic Party in March after her email comments about the viability of Black gubernatorial candidates were made public, answered by saying, “We need to look at racial, ethnic, gender, religious equality and equity, and address them, and we need to do it now.”

The County Council has the authority to appoint and remove Planning Board members. Earlier this month, the council accepted the resignation of all five members of the board, issuing a statement saying the council had lost confidence in the board after a series of personnel conflicts.

The applicants are hoping to serve on the planning board on a temporary basis, with permanent appointees to be named by the next county council after the Nov. 8 election.

Other candidates for the temporary planning board slots include:

  • Raj Barr-Kumar, an architect and former national president of the American Institute of Architects
  • David Hill, a senior systems analyst at Westat and a former member of the Rockville Planning Commission
  • William Kirwan, with Muse/Kirwan Architects, has served on the Historic Preservation Commission
  • Vincent Napoleon, an attorney and business executive who has worked with governments at the local and federal level
  • Roberto Pinero, former member and chair of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission
Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up