In a Friday afternoon interview on The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi on WAMU radio station, Montgomery Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz expressed support for the requirement to vaccinate all county employees . He also explained his support for a Silver Spring business district and predicted the University of Maryland would triumph in their Bugs football game against Iowa on Friday night.
“We finally have a quarterback,” he said of Terps junior star Taulia Tagolvailoa.
Albornoz said he supports compulsory vaccination for county employees, except for those with medical exemption, but not for those claiming religious exemption.
âWe have gone as far as we can go,â reaching out to those who have not been vaccinated, he said. He called those who were still unvaccinated to have a combination of fear, stubbornness, a particular political ideology, or “just plain uninformed”.
Although he said he understood why County Director Marc Elrich was surveying services to see if the staff would be sufficient if employees had the choice of getting vaccinated or losing their jobs, he wondered. though the same personnel problem could arise if most of the firefighters at a particular station tested positive for COVID-19.
Of the 9,500 county employees – which does not include Montgomery County Public School employees who already need to be vaccinated – about 77% have received at least one dose, Albornoz said. Among the remaining employees, some do not want it and others have not responded.
According to Albornoz, the union representing workers in the county opposes a vaccination mandate. However, he overheard many employees telling him that they were frustrated with coworkers who did not want to be vaccinated, he said during the radio interview.
Two county council committees will review the details of a possible term before recommending it or not to the full council. If passed, Albornoz said it would likely come into effect by the end of this year.
âWe know the pace of this virus. It will inevitably increase âas the cold sets in, he said.
Regarding the council’s recent vote to override Elrich’s veto on a Silver Spring business district, Albornoz said, âWe have a problem. We must stop the bleeding âin downtown Silver Spring, where 28% of commercial real estate is vacant and many retail stores are vacant, he said, also noting an increase in the crime rate.
“What is clear is that we need to invest in Silver Spring.”
Albornoz explained that the allocated funds will mainly be used for marketing. In addition, he said the employees who wear red coats and clean the area would remain under the direction of the county executive and would still be represented by the same union.
âThe pros outweigh the cons,â he said of the Silver Spring business district. âEveryone agrees that there is nothing we can do. It is not acceptable either.
Albornoz, who has announced he will run for re-election, is expected to be board chairman in December. Therefore, he said, he will not approve of anyone for the county executive, calling it inappropriate.
Listen to Albornoz’s commentary here.