The 2015 Rockville election will return Bridget Newton as Mayor and Beryl Feinberg, Julie Palakovich Carr, Mark Pierzchala, and Virginia Onley to Council for the next four years, beginning on November 16. Of the 40,749 registered voters in Rockville, there was a total of 6,343 ballots cast (15.57 percent) including votes cast on early voting days, same-day registration at City Hall on Election Day and by absentee. That’s slightly lower that 2013, which had a participation rate of nearly 17 percent.
Although the results are preliminary until certified, which is expected by November 10, and the final expenses of the campaigns aren’t reported until January 2016, there are some patterns we can already discern. In campaign tactics, Brigitta Mullican’s early start/grassroots approach was about as effective as Richard Gottfried’s scorched-earth/five-mailer method. Length of community service didn’t seem to affect voters either, when comparing David Hill, who has a long track record in the community compared to Patrick Schoof, who is a recent entry. The amount of money poured into the race didn’t guarantee a win, as can been seen in the $2,000-8,000 spent by those who were successful in the Council race and Richard Gottfried, who spent nearly $40,000 (5-20 times more, depending on how you count). So what mattered most? Don’t the names of the elected candidates seem awfully familiar? Yup, they’re all incumbents, returning to City Council immediately or after a pause of a couple years. I’d also like to think it’s the effectiveness of the Team Rockville campaign committee (aka slate) because three (Julie Palakovich Carr, Mark Pierzchala, and Virginia Onley) were part of the current Team and a fourth (Beryl Feinberg) was part of the previous one, but that’s hard to prove without more research (disclosure: I am the campaign chair of Team Rockville).
Once again, elections in Rockville are very close, especially when there’s a long list of candidates. There are usually significant gaps among the front runners but those lower on the list can be separated by a handful of votes, suggesting that voters have clear preferences for 2-3 Council candidates but not among the remaining choices. The five candidates who were not elected are separated among each other by 173 votes out of 6,343 ballots, giving a sense of how close they were. Indeed, Patrick Schoof and Brigitta Mullican are separated by only 8 votes, just about a handful of people. (The math here is more complex that I’m willing to tackle at this point because each voter can choose up to four candidates out of nine, so a simple percentage would be misleading.)
Rockville Channel 11 has posted a video on election results with interviews with the winners on YouTube.
The new Mayor and Council will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 15 at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Dr. It’s free and anyone is welcome to attend (and there’s usually cake and punch afterwards!). The first meeting of the new Mayor and Council is at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 16 at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave.