Montgomery County’s newest Planning Board member is Partap Verma, a former GGWash contributor who’s advocated for safer streets and better transit. He’ll join newly reappointed Planning Board chair Casey Anderson, who’s been a champion for the county’s parks system, our downtowns, and bike infrastructure.
After a long and often contentious race with two dozen candidates, all nine County Councilmembers voted to reappoint Anderson and appoint Verma this morning. Brandy Brooks, an activist from Wheaton who had applied for both seats, was not nominated for either seat.
Both Anderson and Verma were endorsed by Greater Greater Washington, in addition to the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club Montgomery County Group, the Coalition for Smarter Growth, and Action Committee for Transit.
Casey Anderson, who lives in Silver Spring, first joined the board in 2011 and in 2014 was appointed chair, who basically sets the agenda for the board. Over the past five years, he’s championed the redevelopment of aging shopping centers and office parks, done extensive public outreach in working-class communities, and last year visited each of the county’s 421 parks.
“Casey has played a central role in just about every major decision we have made about land use, transportation, and our park system,” said Councilmember Hans Riemer, who nominated Casey for the reappointment this morning. “He has poured his energy into helping to make Montgomery County both more equitable and more prosperous.”
Verma will replace Potomac developer Norman Dreyfuss, who must step down due to term limits. A lawyer from Silver Spring, he co-founded the Friends of Forest Glen and Montgomery Hills, which has advocated for making Georgia Avenue safer to walk and bike on and successfully got funding for new entrances at the Forest Glen and White Flint Metro stations.
His appointment is a landmark moment for the Montgomery County Planning Board, which will now be majority-minority for the first time ever. Verma will also be the first Asian and openly gay member in the board’s history.
“[Verma] brings with him lived experiences that can’t be taught,” said Councilmember Evan Glass, who is the first openly gay councilmember in county history. “As the son of immigrants, an East County native, and a graduate of Montgomery County Public Schools, Mr. Verma understands the needs of our diverse and underserved communities. Growing up in a mixed-income duplex development, he saw the value that a diverse housing stock brings to our communities, and I know he will bring that knowledge to our Planning Board.”
Verma will take office next month, shortly before the Planning Board’s recess.