City Scene

Neil Harris Elected Council Vice President

Kentlands resident Neil Harris was elected by his colleagues to serve as vice president of the City Council for a one-year term. The vice president acts as president of the council in the absence of the mayor. Harris was appointed to the City Council in 2014 to fill a vacant seat following the election of Sidney Katz to the Montgomery County Council. Harris was elected to the City Council in 2015.

Monsignor Brennan Recognized

Monsignor Mark Brennan of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Gaithersburg was recognized by the Mayor and City Council at their Dec. 19 meeting. Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman presented the Certificate of Recognition to Monsignor Brennan, noting, “Through his efforts the church has expanded its outreach to a large immigrant population, aiding them not only in the expression of their faith but connecting them to much needed services and helping them to integrate into our community. St. Martin’s is also very involved in a number of social services programs.”

Monsignor Brennan was recently asked by Pope Francis to serve as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to help with outreach to that city’s growing Hispanic population. Mayor Ashman thanked him for “serving so passionately (in the city) for the past 13 years.”

Monsignor Brennan thanked the Mayor and City Council for the recognition. “I’ve been living in Gaithersburg longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my life. … I think it is a very fine city … very diverse, a wonderful mixture of people,” he said. “There is a spirit among many people here not to just get along but to get to know one another, to contribute one another’s gifts to the common community and that, I think, is a remarkable accomplishment in today’s world.” He urged the Mayor and City Council to continue “to work hard and be imaginative” in bringing more affordable housing into the city.

New City Smoking and Vaping Ordinance in Effect

As of Jan. 1, smoking and vaping on all city property, including inside city vehicles, is banned. Tony Tomasello, city manager, explained that smoking cessation assistance is being offered to all city employees. There are no designated employee smoking areas on city property.

You can view the adopted ordinance at

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Planned

Gaithersburg is joining with Montgomery Serves and Seneca Creek Community Church to host a morning of service projects that will benefit the most vulnerable in the community. More than 15 projects suitable for a variety of ages and skill levels will be conducted at the church from 9 to 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017.

Among the planned activities are assembling overnight bags for foster children, creating appreciation care packs for local law enforcement officials, packing and delivering bag breakfasts, lunches and toiletry kits for the homeless, making placemats for children at NIH and blankets for cancer patients, assembling dog toys for animal shelters, participating in a “Caring Community” digital image montage, and more.

Because space is limited at the church, pre-registration is required. The Gaithersburg location, now in its fourth year of operation, is one of four sites in Montgomery County that are hosting Day of Service activities. The others are in Germantown, North Bethesda and Silver Spring. There will also be a countywide “Help the Hungry” food drive to benefit Manna Food Center at select Giant grocery store locations on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 14 and 15.