Voting started at 7 am this cold fall morning in Rockville and I had a chance to visit several polling places to see how things are going. So far this morning, King Farm, Swim Center, and Senior Center have voters coming in at 1-2 persons per minute, which is busy for a polling place. Campaign volunteers were ready and eager to advise incoming voters, and volunteers for Team Rockville are outnumbering those for the “West End Slate.” The Swim Center traditionally has the highest turnout and candidates Tom Moore, Virginia Only, Julie Palakovich Carr, and Don Hadley were out front greeting voters (and swimmers) along with Delegate Luis Simmons, who will announce his run for State Senate in a couple weeks. At Twinbrook, Newton’s supporters were campaigning within the polling place and the “West End Slate” supporters at Elwood Smith are encouraging “bullet voting” while at King Farm they are recommending two write-in candidates. Otherwise, nothing unexpected is happening but the next big wave of voters arrives after 5 pm.
By now, readers of my blog are well aware that I’m endorsing every candidate of Team Rockville: Mark Pierzchala for mayor, Tom Moore, Virginia Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr, and Beryl Feinberg for council. Each of them brings a unique knowledgeable perspective that will result in better informed and more thoughtful decisions. They don’t always agree with each other, but they do share a set of values that I support. They’ve also been endorsed by The Gazette and six former Rockville Mayors and Councilmembers. No one on the “West End Slate” can claim those credentials. We really need a group that can work together, rather than continue the conflicts and infighting we’ve witnessed for the past ten years. Had John Hall been elected mayor two years ago, it would have probably been a much more effective City Council. No matter how much the candidates promise civility, it always becomes hostile in the council chambers. Let’s not just throw together a Council and hope for the best, but elect a group that has already agreed to work together.
There is also a candidate I do not endorse: Claire Marcuccio Whitaker. First, I strongly believe that anyone holding this major office should have a deep involvement in the community, such as serving on the board of a neighborhood association, community group, non-profit board, or city commission. It informs your thinking and demonstrates your commitment. All of the other candidates have some of this experience except her. Although she’s lived in Rockville all of her life, Whitaker has not earned any stripes by working in the community. Zero. Zilch. Nada. She’s hoping to enter into public office using her sister’s reputation and her family name–that’s not enough.
Second, she claims to be an “independent voice” and opposed to a slate (campaign postcards 10/21/13 & 10/30/13), yet routinely campaigned with candidates Bridget Newton and Don Hadley (see photos below from her website). None of them are as independent as they say. They’re all from the same West End neighborhood (hence my appellation of the “West End Slate”), with Newton and Whitaker living just a block away from each other. Independent? No. Hypocrisy? Yes.