A re-elected Frederick County councilwoman and local government newcomer were unanimously chosen to lead the County Council at the first meeting of the new term Tuesday night.
M.C. Keegan-Ayer (D) and Michael Blue (R) were nominated and elected president and vice president, respectively.
"I've watched council member Keegan-Ayer over the past four years," newcomer Councilman Steve McKay (R) said. "I think she brings a very professional demeanor to her position. She's open-minded, she does her homework, and I think she'll run a very effective meeting."
After the meeting, Blue said he was honored to be chosen by his colleagues to help lead the council.
"We want to be a council that doesn't have partisan views," Blue said. "We obviously will have some, but for the most part, everything is going to be bipartisan ... that's our goal, that's what we're going to strive to accomplish. ... I do think there are different points of view that are all valid, and they all have merit, and they need to be accepted and listened to."
Democratic Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater explained her reasoning for supporting Blue to serve as vice president of the seven-member board.
"In just the short time we've been able to get to know each other, I've been very impressed with council member Blue and how many questions he's been asking, kind of soaking in all of the information," Fitzwater said.
Like Blue, Keegan-Ayer said she was honored to be chosen as president. She cited her experience as a key reason why she was selected.
"I think that had a lot do with it," she said after the meeting. "I think they looked at what I've done for the last four years and said, 'Probably, she could do this.'"
Keegan-Ayer served as vice president of the council in her first term.
Both she and County Executive Jan Gardner (D) hold the two main leadership roles under the county charter. When asked about any concerns residents might have about that, she noted that Blue is a Republican, and offers a new perspective since he has never served in local government.
"Phil [Dacey] was an alderman for the city of Frederick, so he's kind of a known entity," Keegan-Ayer said. "Mr. McKay has been very involved in development issues, so he's kind of a known entity. Mr. Blue kind of doesn't have any baggage ... he's a blank slate, and we're hoping we can balance each other out."
Along with electing officers, the council agreed to move their 4:30 p.m. meeting times to 5:30 p.m. to accommodate council members' work schedules. Public hearing portions of legislative days will remain at 7 p.m.
Under the county charter, council members have the power to initiate legislation. Legislative sessions are limited to 45 days each year and non-legislative sessions are scheduled as needed.
The council's next meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 5:30 p.m.