Without an independent newspaper with an investigative reporter, this year has been a particularly challenging one for both candidates and voters. In the last election, we had the Gazette and Rockville Patch who were willing to investigate claims and counterclaims, serving as an informal arbiter of disputes. With them gone, candidates have had to rely heavily on mail to reach voters and I’m guessing about 30 mailers have reached voters this season. Of course, these mailers are biased towards the candidate who sent them and voters are unsure what to believe. Blogs like this one are helping to fill the void.
It’s probably no surprise to readers of this blog that I’m endorsing Sima Osdoby for Mayor and Virginia Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr, Mark Pierzchala, and Clark Reed for City Council. Please vote for them today to usher in a much-needed change in City Hall. I’m supporting their campaigns because if I’m not going to run for office, I’ll help good people who will. I choose candidates in the same way I select employees: hire the best ones I can with the right qualifications and experience (ideally smarter than me), be sure they can work together to produce something better than any one of them could do individually, and then get out of their way. They stand out from the other candidates because of their resumes and willingness to work together.
Sima Osdoby has lived in Rockville for 35 years and has extensive experience working around the globe helping nations, such as Bosnia and Afghanistan, establish democracies. I’ve lived in Rockville for nearly 15 years and all I’ve witnessed on Mayor and Council is pointless quarreling. I encourage discussion and debate, but on Council it seems to continually devolve into unrelenting fighting that delays decisions for months and even years. In Rockville, one of the key roles that the Mayor plays is a facilitator that helps the rest of Council work through the issues to come to an informed and reasonable decision (indeed, in Rockville, the Mayor is prohibited from making motions–they can only be made by Council members–forcing the Mayor to gain the cooperation of others). The Mayor needs to make sure that everyone is heard, no one dominates, and that issues have been sufficiently explored before making a decision. Rockville isn’t a worn-torn country like Afghanistan, but Ms. Osdoby’s experience in difficult and tense situations gives her the ability to finally bring the City Council, staff, residents, and businesses together and make the City more effective and productive. That’s she also been a leader in a variety of community groups from Peerless Rockville to Emerge Maryland to the local chapter of the American Association of University Women gives her an incredible understanding in working with others, as well as skills in dealing with difficult issues openly and honestly. Her husband is a scientist retired from federal service, thus giving them an insight into the concerns of many Rockville residents. We’re lucky that’s she’s willing to put her hat into the ring.
Virginia Onley has served on more city commissions and boards than anyone I know, which gives her an understanding of the city that few people have. Her personal connections with so many people in different parts of the city has helped me understand issues from new perspectives. Indeed, she’s continually been an advocate for people who are typically marginalized, even though it doesn’t help her politically. Fighting for affordable housing, such as Fireside Apartments for example, rarely gets you any votes so most politicians don’t bother or do it only if expedient. As the only African American senior citizen living in an apartment on a fixed income running for office, she brings a much needed perspective to Council that others can’t meet. Not even close.
Julie Palakovich Carr is a smart, thoughtful, reliable, and incredibly organized person. With a graduate degree in biology and a job working in public policy, she is able to take facts and turn them into well-founded decisions. As the youngest of the candidates, she and her husband are among the young digerati who comfortable with technology, representing the next generation of homeowners in Rockville. Living in East Rockville with her husband and their new-born son, we need the perspective of a smart young woman on Council and begin to pass responsibility on to the next generation.
I’ve supported Mark Pierzchala‘s campaigns for City Council many times, even when we were opponents in 2009–that’s how good a guy he is. As a mathematician with a beard, he looks serious and is serious when it comes to managing the City fairly and prudently. He often works quietly to study and resolve issues, from employee pensions to the Red Gate Golf Course subsidy, often allowing others to take credit simply because he has enough confidence in himself. Despite being harangued and smeared by his opponents over the years, he always diplomatic and still willing to listen to them. That’s a good trait to have on Council. He brings a particularly local view on issues because he was president of his neighborhood association, he owns a consulting business in downtown Rockville, his wife is on staff at College Gardens Elementary School, and his two daughters recently graduated from the MCPS school system.
I’ve only known Clark Reed for a few months, or at least I thought I did until I realized I had known of his work through the City’s Environment Commission, which he chairs. He helped start the Rockville Solar Co-op, a program which prompted us to place solar panels on our house because it’s both reducing the cost of installation now and lowering our electric bill for years to come. He thinks cooperatively, always looking for ways to share and do things together to be more productive or effective. That’s a valuable way of seeing things because it’ll help Rockville hit triples, rather than just singles. His wife is active in the PTA and their son attends Twinbrook Elementary School, so they’ve shown a significant commitment to the community.
Yes, those are the same folks who compose Team Rockville but on Election Day, you can’t vote for slate–you vote for individuals. Together they offer a diversity of perspectives, ages, experiences, homes, and neighborhoods that will help inform decisions that will benefit residents and businesses across Rockville. More importantly, they’ve also publicly agreed that a united City Council is more productive and beneficial than a divided one. On the other hand, Bridget Newton, Brigitta Mullican, Beryl Feinberg, David Hill, and Patrick Schoof have preached about the evils of slates and declared they’re independent, but actually they’re supporting each other and campaigning together to various extents. It’s not illegal to campaign together in Rockville as long as it doesn’t exceed $500, nevertheless, they’re not independent. Independent means that you’re not affiliated, reliant, or dependent on others. Why don’t they form a slate and be upfront about it rather than continue to play games? Just for grins, let’s call them the “Independent Slate.” Now that you know there are two slates in this election, one working openly and one secretly, which one will you choose on Election Day?