Endorsements for Rockville City Council

I’ve read the literature, participated in two debates, visited the websites, listened to neighborhood discussions, and talked to some of the candidates and am now ready to announce my endorsements for City Council:

City Council

  1. Tom Moore:  I met Tom during the last election and even though I was among his opponents, he was incredibly fair, thoughtful, considerate, and funny.  I liked him so much that I passed out his literature as well as mine on election day.  Although he wasn’t elected to Council in 2009, he’s continued to stay involved in the community and shows that he analyzes issues and gives other perspectives a fair hearing.
  2. Mark Pierzchala:  Mark’s knowledge of city and neighborhood issues has grown tremendously during his first term on Council and he understands the complex nature of making decisions in a diverse community.  I don’t always agree with his decisions (he seems to favor businesses more than residents and the city’s heritage at times) but he always explains how he came to his decisions.  He’s the only incumbent I’m endorsing for City Council, and losing him would lose continuity on the Council.
  3. Virginia Onley:  Virginia has a long history of service to Rockville through various committees and boards, so she’s experienced the community from various perspectives.  Yet, serving on Council will be a steep learning curve and although I winced when she said, “I’ll always listen to you and vote with the majority,” I’m hoping that she mis-spoke since she’s an African American woman.  One of the biggest challenges for persons holding office is that you have responsibilities to everyone in the community, not just the majority, and your willingness to go against the grain to do the right thing will be tested over and over.
  4. John Hall:  I guess that’s why I’m ambivalent about John Hall.  He’s an incredibly nice guy to the point that he always plays the middle child, avoiding conflict and trying make others happy.  Conflict is a natural part of governing because you are always making decisions that affect others for better and worse.  We don’t have to be mean or cold-hearted about it, but we do need to have the courage to make those decisions in a clear, efficient, and reasonable fashion so we can move on.  And with all the controversy surrounding the APFO, I’m puzzled by his willingness to say there’s nothing that needs to be adjusted or revised–even the State Court of Appeals noted there are flaws.


The mayor’s race is one of the most contentious and bitter I’ve seen in my decade of living in Rockville, although some of the old folks have told me it was just as bad in the 1970s and 80s (and of course, the 1950s when there was a significant switch from the old timers to the new residents).    Supporters for either candidate have really dug in their heels in a manner that reminds of the recent battles in Congress and the candidates haven’t made matters any easier. 

  • Phyllis Marcuccio is continually confused, swayed by the latest opinion, unsure of the facts, mouths empty platitudes, forgets the law, and is duplicitous but it now includes underhanded and mean election tactics.  She presents herself as the kind little old lady, but I got a glimpse of her mean and vengeful side after the 2009 election when I applied for Planning Commission and was given a tongue lashing by her during the interview.  I supported her opponent and I know that elections have consequences, but to be treated this way when I was offering to volunteer at the city was completely inappropriate.  This recent election seems to have brought that mean-spirited side out more publicly and it’s not pretty.  So I’m clearly not supporting her, but what about her opponent?  
  • Piotr Gajewski is a hard person to like.  He can be rude, arrogant, dismissive, pompous, biting, sarcastic, bombastic, and misogynistic, but I’m voting for him.  It’s not because I’m a masochist or I don’t have any other choice (if it’s not clear yet, I’m not voting for Marcuccio), it’s because I’ve discovered that I can tolerate most of these traits because of the many other characteristics that demonstrate he’s a good elected official:  he understands the city ordinances, processes, and policies; the respects the roles, responsibilities, and limits of council and staff; he responds in a timely manner to my emails; he holds public meetings where residents can discuss issues at length; he’s familiar with city issues and tries to analyze them from various perspectives; he willing to talk with both his supporters and opponents; and he doesn’t tolerate time-wasting political theater (like Joe Jordan’s tactics on the Red Gate Golf Course).  I don’t always agree with his decisions but I understand them because he explains his reasons and they’re consistent–but he’s willing to change his mind if presented with good evidence (he was once an advocate for a strong mayor form of government for Rockville and sensibly moved to my opinion that the current city manager form is best for our town).   I’ve also discovered that he’s not intentionally rude.  If he stands in front of me at an event and blocks my view, I just poke him in the back and he moves over with a smile.

I’m sure my endorsements will bring joy to some people and infuriate others (anger seems to be a prime mover in this year’s campaign), so comments are welcome with the usual caveats and fortunately, it’ll be all over in a couple days.  No matter what, if you’re a resident of Rockville, do vote on Tuesday.  Remember, you can even register and vote on the same day at City Hall.  If you aren’t sure of your entire ballot, just vote for the ones you do support and ignore the rest–your ballot won’t be disqualified if you vote for less than all five seats (and indeed, you’ll actually be helping your candidates improve their chances because you won’t be giving a vote to one of their opponents.  Confused? Roald Schrack can explain this better than me.).  And yes, your vote really does count.  We’ve had candidates lose by just a handful of votes so go out and make a difference.

12 responses

  1. Wow Max….62,000 people living in Rockville and I get the only shoutout. I am honored and humbled. And Max, you have been carrying around a lot of anger and bitterness for two years. That isn’t healthy. Remember Max, beware the man who thinks he is the smartest one in the room…or something like that. I am certain all of Rockville can rest comfortably now that they know how you are going to vote.

    1. Anger? Yes. Bitterness? No. I have perhaps an idealistic vision of democracy, community, and government that makes me turn cartwheels when it happens well (e.g., the launch of Rockville Central, the recent reform of the community meeting process for large developments) and angry when it goes wrong (e.g., the 2010 election process for the Twinbrook Citizens Association, Mayor Marcuccio’s attempts to be the chief executive for the city). It’s okay for people to be angry, as long as that anger doesn’t turn into bitterness and instead is channeled towards improving the situation. Indeed, most reforms of government and society are a result of crisis and anger–that’s what inspired Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Upton Sinclair, Mohandas Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to act. I’m not among those luminaries, but I am certainly inspired by their ideals.

  2. Brigitta Mullican

    Wow, Max, I can see your choice for mayor is easy because you dislike Phyllis Marcuccio. You must have some personal reasons because your statement about Phyllis is rather harsh. Does this have something to do with you not being appointed to the Rockville Planning Commission? I hope you can see Phyllis in a different way as Laura Berthiaume and I see her. You may change your opinion on Election Day.

    I don’t agree with Ms. Marcuccio on all issues, but I respect her principles even if we disagree. Mr. Gajewski has not been totally truthful in his recent statements. Here is an example that Larry Giammo wrote on Rockville Patch.

    New Campaign Fund Reports Show Contributors Benefited from Candidate’s Votes
    see: http://rockville.patch.com/articles/new-campaign-fund-reports-show-contributors-benefitted-from-candidate-s-votes

    [deleted by Max van Balgooy]

    During the past two years Gajewski town hall meetings were poorly attended. At one of these meetings I question him about telling people he was going to run against Ms. Marcuccio in the 2011 city elections. He told me he did not make such a statement, but three people who attended the Montgomery County Gala shortly after the 2009 election told me Mr. Gajewski told them he was going to run against Ms. Marcuccio in the 2011.

    I don’t want a dishonest person to represent me on the council. How can you vote for a person who in your words is “a hard person ..can be rude, arrogant, dismissive, pompous, biting, sarcastic, bombastic, and misogynistic?” Do you think this kind of person is good to lead our city council?

    Sorry about you being so angry that you weren’t appointed to the Rockville Planning Commission.

    I hope we have a good voter turnout. I hope that voters are paying attention.

    Brigitta Mullican

    1. Thanks Brigitta, and I think we’re going to fall on two different sides on this issue. But I do want to clarify that my reasons for not supporting Phyllis Marcuccio for Mayor aren’t personal.

      I am disappointed that I wasn’t appointed to the Planning Commission but there are plenty of good people in the community, so if someone else fit the bill better, that’s great. What I didn’t like was the tongue-lashing I received from Mayor Marcuccio during the interview because my political activism in Rockville was too outspoken and bold. I was stunned because just months earlier, when my term on the Historic District Commission ended, we had had a cordial conversation at a social event about my interest of serving on Planning Commission and she encouraged me to apply. So I experienced two very different sides of her, and if there’s anything I really despise it’s hypocrisy. Like you, I don’t like dishonesty and duplicity. You and I don’t always agree, but I know exactly where you stand and I respect your forthrightness (is that a word?). I share your questions about Mr. Gajewski’s acceptance of monies from people who had business before Council and why he denied he accepted money from developers when he clearly did. He may have torpedoed his own boat. But I also question Ms Marcuccio’s inconsistencies and leadership as well. She claimed she was the chief executive for the city–that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of our city charter and form of government. If she can’t get that right, what else is she missing? On the renaming of East Middle Lane to Choice Hotels Lane, she clearly misrepresented the Council’s decision at the Planning Commission meeting. Forgetful or duplicitous?

      The choices for Mayor aren’t easy to make and I’m guessing that each side has their diehard supporters, so it’ll be left to the undecided voters to make the final decision for us. Some have said that in a democracy, the community gets exactly the kind of government it deserves. Does that mean that the indecision and polarity in our current election will be manifested in the way Rockville operates for the next two years? Ugh.

      And I apologize for cutting down the length of your comments. I’ve removed the verbatim duplication of Mr. Giammo’s statement because it’s also available on Rockville Patch in its entirety and you nicely provided the link. I’d rather have comments on my blog emphasize what individuals have to say, rather than repeat what others have said.

  3. Brigitta, anyone who read Max probably also reads Patch so repeated Larry’s piece is not necessary and I hope he deletes it. It’s not fair to run without all the comments.

    Max, we’re agreed on everyone but Hall.

    Also, don’t take don’t let Joe’s projection of his anger on you seriously (read that twice).

    Nice job!

    1. Theresa, really? I am not an angry person and I genuinely found it both funny and odd that somehow I would end up in a piece endorsing Piotr. Perhaps there was a bit of satire or sarcasm in what I wrote, but that hardly qualifies as anger. I was taught long ago to not speak out when angry, and I have tried to live accordingly. Trust me, there was not a shred of anger in my comment to Max.

      1. You berate the guy for posting his own endorsements on his own blog. And speaking of ego…Max’s opinion commands far more respect in this town than yours.

  4. Thank you, Max, for your post.

  5. Excellent post, Max. You’ve articulated very well how the soon-to-be-former Mayor’s “sweet auntie” persona has been revealed to be only a thin veneer. I like Piotr Gajewski because he’s honest about who he is and what he believes, and he doesn’t pretend he’s thoroughly sweet and emphatic while operating behind the scenes as otherwise.

  6. Carol E McCormick


    Why is Gajewski even allowed to still run since it has been revealed that his votes, unpopular to so many of us while he was on council of late and seeming so unethical and immoral were just that–it is now fact that he voted the way he did so developers could have their way no matter what the cost to other Rockville citizens and he did so since he took developers’ money for his campaign? Pierzchala supports him so he should be disqualified too. SHAME SHAME.

  7. Carol E McCormick

    Max–regarding tongue lashing–I didn’t know anyone’s activism was more bold than mine and I have only received repeated tongue lashing and pure utter lies disguised as facts from Gajewski and Pierzchala, same as every other citizen in Rockville I know. Marcuccio has always been respectful and supportive even if she disagrees.

  8. Max, as a councilmember I will always listen to all points of view and all interest. Doing this will give me the information I need to make good council decisions that are best for the entire Rockville community.

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