Chair: Christiana Rigby
Vice Chair: Deb Jung
The Howard County Council's primary function is to serve as the Legislative branch of local government under authorization of the Howard County Charter – the County's constitution. As the legislative branch of government, the Council's major responsibility is approving the laws for Howard County. The Council's powers include annual authorization of the County's operating and capital budgets as well as approval of County tax rates. The legislative body authorizes the issuance of all County bonds and approves all master plans for the physical development of the County. The County Council amends the Zoning Regulations and approves the County's Comprehensive Zoning Plan, which is guided by the Plan Howard 2030, the General Plan of the County.
Chair: Liz Walsh
Vice Chair: Opel Jones
Council Members serve as the members of the Zoning Board, which guides the future growth of the County in accordance with the General Plan. The Zoning Board is responsible for amending the zoning of individual pieces of property. It approves preliminary development plans, required as the first step for developing property in zoning districts such as New Town or Mixed Use.
Chair: David Yungmann
Vice Chair: Opel Jones
In Howard County, the five Council members also sit as the local Board of License Commissioners, known as the Liquor Board. Their duties include issuance and revocation of licenses to sell alcoholic beverages and assuring adherence to Maryland laws and the County's rules and regulations pertaining to the sale of alcoholic beverages. In 1998, an appointed Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board was established. The Liquor Board may assign certain duties to the Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board, but the Liquor Board remains the final authority on disputed matters. Applications for liquor licenses may be made through the Administrator to the Board of License Commissioners.
How You Can Participate
The Council welcomes your participation. Here are some of the ways you can get involved:
- Attend a public hearing or work-session. All of the council’s hearings and work-sessions are held at the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD. and are open to the public. Click here for a schedule of upcoming hearings and work sessions.
- Testify at a public hearing. You can testify on an agenda item at any public hearing. Click here to sign up in person or online.
- Watch Us on TV or live streamed on the internet;
- Council hearings are broadcast on GTV channels by Comcast on channel 99 and by Verizon on channel 44.
- All counsel hearings are live streamed to the internet. Click here during a hearing to Watch Us.
- Contact Us: Click here to write, call, or email your Council members.
- Volunteer to serve on one of the County's many citizen boards and commissions. Click here the see a full list of Boards and Commissions.
In 2018, Liz Walsh was elected to represent District 1, which includes nationally-designated historic districts in Ellicott City and Elkridge, vast acreages of state park and other dedicated forestlands, and miles of streambanks along the Patapsco River and its smaller tributaries.
Opel Jones, a loving husband and dedicated father of three, was elected to the Howard County Council in 2018, and currently serves as Chair of the County Council. Dedicated to the community, Opel mentors, tutors, and volunteers in his free time through his fraternity. He has a background in mathematics, higher education, computer science, and engineering, and recently became a published author. He served formerly as Second Vice President of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee as well as Human Rights Commissioner for Howard County, appointed by then County Executive, Ken Ulman.
In 2018, Christiana Rigby was elected to represent District 3 on the Howard County Council, which includes the Villages of Owen Brown and Kings Contrivance, as well as communities in North Laurel, Savage, and Jessup. At the Council’s first legislative meeting in 2018, Christiana was nominated to serve as the Chair of the County Council, responsible for guiding the body through its first year in office. From 2018 - 2019, she served as the youngest woman to Chair of the Howard County Council.
Deb Jung has served as the District 4 Councilmember since 2018. Columbia has been her home for more than three decades and she raised a successful Wilde Lake graduate (Go Cats!). Deb brings her professional background as an attorney, years of civic engagement, and a passion for her community to the Council.
David Yungmann has represented District 5 on the Howard County Council since 2018. He is one of five council members re-elected to a second term and is the sole Republican. In addition to serving on the County Council, he is a Realtor with his team based in Ellicott City.
Council InformationExpand All
The County Council acts as the County’s legislative branch of government. They are responsible for making the laws that govern the County. The Council members are the zoning authority and the licensing and enforcement authority for alcoholic beverages in the County. The Council members also act as the Zoning Board. In that capacity, they guide the County’s growth in accordance with the General Plan of Development. They determine the zoning for individual parcels of property. Council members, in their capacity as the Board of License Commissioners (Liquor Board) approve and revoke local licenses to sell alcoholic beverages and oversees the licensees’ compliance with the laws pertaining to the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Council members study the legislation, hold hearings to determine the public’s perspective, and have work sessions to seek clarification and develop possible amendments. They also attend community meetings, meet with, and talk with constituents about their interests or problems they may be having with governmental services, develop ideas for future legislation, study the budget, attend conferences and meetings with other elected officials to learn best practices and trends, study, and answer correspondence. The Council’s role is considered part-time. Many members also hold full-time outside employment.
To find out, just type your address into the "Who Represents Me?" tool, or call (410) 313-2001 and ask to be connected with your member’s office. Each member has a Special Assistant who can help connect you with the member or assist you with a problem. Members also are available by e-mail. An e-mail addressed to [email protected] will be received by all Council members. You will find a brief biography and information about the district each member represents above.
Council members are prohibited from directing the activity of staff in the Executive branch of government; however, they frequently can assist you with problems you may be having by providing access to the appropriate agency, helping to get information you may need related to services of the government, or by arranging for staff to talk with you about your problem. Constituent services – helping people to solve problems – is an important informal function of the Council members.
There are five Council members elected to four-year terms by registered voters in their districts. A candidate must meet the following requirements:
- Must have resided in the county for no less than two years immediately prior to nomination
- Must be a registered voter
- Must be a resident of the Council district in which they are seeking election
- Must be at least 25 years of age
- Must continue to reside in the district during the full term in office
Newly elected Council members take office on the first Monday in December in the year of their election. Each December, the council members elect officers of the Council.
Yes, a person who has been elected to the Council three times, or who has been elected twice and appointed to a vacancy in which they served more than two years, is ineligible for re-election.
Every ten years, following the reporting of the decennial census, a Redistricting Commission is appointed to consider the boundaries of Council districts and to make recommendations on new boundaries that will be compact and composed of relatively even proportions of the population. The County Council adopts the new district boundaries legislatively by Council bill. The Council is not required to adopt the boundaries as recommended by the Redistricting Commission.
Beginning in December 2022, members will receive compensation of $73,663 per year. That amount will grow annually during the four-year term by the CPI-U (consumer price index, urban areas). The Chair will receive an additional $3500 per year. Council members receive the same fringe benefits as other County employees. They may receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses associated with their office, such as travel expense based on mileage to outside meetings.
The Charter provides for the establishment of a Compensation Review Commission every four years. In the year before the final year of each term, the Compensation Review Commission, composed of citizen members appointed by the County Council, makes a recommendation to the County Council for compensation for the members of the County Council and the County Executive in the next term. The County Council may reduce or adopt the recommendations, but they may not increase them.