Baltimore County Council elects Quirk as chairman

Baltimore County Council members on Monday unanimously elected Councilman Tom Quirk as their chairman, and the Catonsville Democrat pledged to collaborate with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and work to make local government cost-effective.

Quirk, 43, was elected to the council in 2010. He is a financial planner in the private sector and has chaired the county's Spending Affordability Committee. His council colleagues often turn to him for guidance on budget issues.

He gained widespread attention last year when he successfully sponsored controversial legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination.

He told colleagues Monday that he hopes to work in a bipartisan way to collaborate with the county executive, a fellow Democrat. The council has five Democrats and two Republicans.

After the council meeting, Quirk said one of his major goals for the next year is to help the county "manage our finances carefully and make sure our very critical services continue in the most cost-effective manner."

Quirk will take over for Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat who led the council the past year. The seven-member council elects its chairperson annually, and the leader runs meetings and handles administrative duties for the panel.

Last week, Catonsville developer Stephen W. Whalen Jr. pleaded guilty to state election law violations, including illegally funneling $7,500 to Quirk's campaign in 2011 by giving cash to others who wrote checks to the campaign — a practice known as "straw contributions." Quirk was not accused of wrongdoing in the case.

The councilman has said he was misled about the identity of the donors and that he returned the money when he learned of problems with the donations.

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