Category Archives: Campaign strategy

Campaign Finance Reports Reveal Gottfried’s Extraordinary Campaign

Rockville-Election-UpdateThe candidates for the Rockville Mayor and Council submitted their second and last set of campaign finance statements before the November 3 election, giving voters an insight into the tactics of their campaigns.  So far, more than $70,000 has been contributed to the various candidates and more than $100,000 has been spent.  The $30,000 difference is due to personal loans or contributions that candidates make to their own campaigns–indeed, most of that is due to the extraordinary campaign of Richard Gottfried. His may be the most expensive campaign in this election and probably in the history of Rockville.

Rockville Campaign Finances 2015 October

So far, Mr. Gottfried has received contributions of $1,880, the least of all candidates, yet has spent $39,617, the most of all candidates.  He has loaned himself the difference and spent most of it on direct mail and campaign materials.  By sending out at least four direct mail pieces, the first long before anyone else, and using what appears to be paid political consultants, he may be signaling a change in the way campaigns will be run in Rockville.

Without a widely distributed local newspaper, getting the attention and support of voters will have to rely on tactics in addition to the traditions of yard signs and precinct walking. For the moment, direct mail assures candidates that they can reach every voter but it’s also very expensive. Printing and postage are the biggest expense, but design and messaging are incredibly important as well.  Most candidates don’t have that expertise and have to rely on outside professionals, often at a cost.  As we are finding in state and federal elections, campaigning is as much about appearances and marketing as it is about issues and ideas, and that public image needs to be continually reinforced with an electorate that is bombarded by information and has a short attention span.

If this trend continues, how will Rockville voters distinguish among candidates in the future? Or will they simply withdraw from the sea of sound bites and slick mailers?

Two Very Different Candidate Debates This Week

Rockville-Election-UpdateThe campaign season has moved into high gear with the community forums (aka candidate debates) underway.  This week two very different debates at two very different times will be held in Rockville:

Senior Citizens Commission Candidates’ Forum on Wednesday afternoon, October 14, 2015 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive. This debate will address specific issues affecting seniors, in addition to some questions of general interest, as time allows, with the final hour reserved for one-on-one conversations with those attending.

West End Citizens Association (WECA) on Thursday evening, October 15, 2015 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Rockville Presbyterian Church, 215 W. Montgomery Avenue. Most likely this forum will focus on issues that affect the West End, such as traffic, development, commercial/residential balance, historic preservation, and pedestrian safety, which may be similar to other residential neighborhoods.

Both forums are free and open to the public, and no reservations are needed.

IMG_4392Last week about seventy people gathered at the Thomas Farm Community Center to watch the first candidate forum (watch on YouTube).  Hosted by the Rockville Chamber of Commerce, the questions focused on issues that were important to the business community, such as the impact of the new developments on the north (Crown) and south (Pike and Rose), the future of the APFO, building heights and street widths on the Rockville Pike, and if the non-residential tax base should grow to support city services.  This was the community’s first chance to see all the candidates together and assess how they handled a variety of questions in a very controlled environment. If anyone expected sparks to fly, the minute-long responses don’t lend themselves to much content that generates controversy.  Many fell to vague pat answers such as Continue reading →

Rockville Candidates Missing the Forest and Trees for the Rocks

Last week, I received the following email message from Joe Jordan, who is closely associated with Bridget Newton‘s election campaign:

Max, there have been at least two occasions where Clark Reed has been seen wearing a handmade name tag that reads “Rockville City Council – Clark Reed”. It was pointed out to him at the MPT showing on Friday, yet he wore it again at RTS on Saturday. Recalling two years ago, I recall how you were concerned about integrity and propriety and following election guidelines, and while nametags may not be covered under them, I am sure you can see how misleading his nametag can be.

Can I be confident in the fact you will bring this to his and Sima [Osdoby]’s attention, and ask that, at a minimum, he and all slate candidates use the wording “candidate for” if they are not incumbents.

Thanks for your attention to this important matter.

Name badgesMr. Jordan is correct that name badges are not specifically addressed in Rockville’s election code (although it addresses nearly everything else: “any pamphlet, circular, card, sample ballot, dodger, poster, advertisement or any printed, multigraphed, photographed, typewritten or written matter or statement or any matter or statement which may be copied by any device”) and that I value transparency, honesty, and accuracy in government (and in business and personal relationships).  I’ve passed his message onto the candidates of Team Rockville, but just to clarify, each candidate that is part of the Team is responsible for his or her own campaign (I don’t manage individual campaigns, just the Team’s; and this blog is mine, not the Team’s).

More important, though, I am growing increasingly concerned with the topics deemed important in this election.  Richard Gottfried sent out the first campaign mailer of the season and accused his opponents of associating with “fat cat developers” without providing any evidence.  On the Twinbrook Listserv a couple weeks ago, Brigitta Mullican complained about the inaccuracies in my blog post (I said Beryl Feinberg worked in the county’s office of management and budget) and that she wasn’t allowed to post comments, then recruited Beryl Feinberg to pile on:
Continue reading →

Rockville Election Pressure Gauge Goes Up in August

Rockville-Election-UpdateThe City of Rockville will hold its elections for its Mayor and Council on November 3, 2015.  Not only is every seat up for grabs, but terms double from two to four years.  Although this City Council has been less divisive than in previous years, there is tension and disagreement both over style and substance, roles and responsibilities.  This year will draw new and familiar candidates, including several incumbents, to the election but we won’t know exactly who’s in or out until Friday, September 4, when the petitions for candidacy are due to City Hall.

Rockville-Election-Pressure-Gauge

Nevertheless, things are already heating up now that the election is three months away.  Brigitta Mullican has regularly mentioned she’s a candidate at City Council meetings during Citizens Forum,   Beryl Feinberg announced in July, Richard Gottfried held a campaign kickoff last week, and Julie Palakovich Carr has been walking neighborhoods (although she’s not officially announced).  August is typically very quiet but here are some suggestions if you’re considering a run:

1.  Attend the City Council meeting on Monday, August 3.  It’s the last one before summer recess and you need to see what it’s like (the next meeting is September 21).  Watching it on tv is nice, but it’s not the same as being in the Council Chambers.  Not only does it give you a better sense of what it’s like to sit attentively for 3-6 hours working on government business (this job requires endurance), but you can also Continue reading →

Rockville City Council Election Off to a Slow Start

Rockville-Election-UpdateUnlike the 2016 presidential race, where it seems that a dozen people have announced their intent to run, it’s been incredibly quiet in Rockville.  The elections for Rockville City Council are coming up on November 3, 2015–that’s five months away–and usually by this time several people have announced their interest.  Brigitta Mullican, president of Rockville Sister City, announced in February she is running for a council seat and former city councilman Mark Pierzchala stated in March he is not running, otherwise, nothing is certain.  The rumored candidates at this time are:

  • Beryl Feinberg (on council)
  • Richard Gottfried (president of Twinbrook Citizens Association)
  • Brigitta Millican (confirmed)
  • Virginia Onley (on council)
  • Julie Palakovich Carr (on council)
  • Zina Pizano

No word on council members Tom Moore or Bridget Newton, although as incumbents, they have a significant advantage over newcomers and don’t need to announce right away.  Summer is typically very quiet, but the election season will pick up in mid-August as candidates form their teams and begin raising money in anticipation of the September 4 deadline for getting on the ballot.  This election will be more important than usual because the terms expand from two to four years.  We’ll want to have an especially good council because we’ll be living with them for twice as long.

If you’re interested in running for office, pick up your candidate information election packet soon.  You’ll have to submit signatures from 100 Rockville residents who are registered voters along with appointing a treasurer and filing a financial disclosure form.  The process takes longer than you expect, especially to get those signatures.  The most efficient way is to obtain the current list of registered voters from the City Clerk’s office or the County Board of Elections and only go to the homes of registered voters.  At this point, you don’t need to ask for their support or an endorsement–you just want their signature to get on the ballot and offer voters a choice.  Do not gather signatures at Metro, grocery stores, or city events.  You’re wasting your time because many won’t be registered voters or don’t live in the City of Rockville, and their signatures will be disqualified.  And just in case, get an extra ten signatures to be sure you have some wiggle room (I’ve had signatures tossed because a person’s married name was different from their registered name–double-check to be sure names match and they’re legible).

Congratulations to Rockville’s New Mayor and Council

If you stayed up until 11:00 pm last night to watch the election returns for Rockville, you know that Bridget Newton was elected Mayor and Julie Palakovich Carr, Virginia Onley, Tom Moore, and Beryl L. Feinberg were elected to City Council.  Congratulations to each of them and I wish them all much success and wisdom as they lead Rockville during the next two years.

Although Mark Pierzchala was not elected Mayor, he created Team Rockville, “to ensure that voters would have diverse choices for their next Mayor and Council” and that Rockville would have “elected officials with experience and knowledge about the issues facing the City.”  Most importantly, it would “lead the City in a transparent, respectful, and inclusive manner.”  With four Team Rockville candidates elected, these values will be carried into the Council chambers and hopefully create a less divisive and argumentative atmosphere than we’ve had under Phyllis Marcuccio.

So where does that leave Bridget Newton, our new Mayor? Continue reading →

Election Day Begins in Rockville

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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 Continue reading →

College Gardens vs West End in Mayor’s Race

Distribution of contributions to Rockville's mayoral race in 2013

Distribution of contributions to Rockville’s mayoral race in 2013

I continue to delve into the financial support for the mayoral race to determine how it reveals the sentiment of the community (and perhaps the outcome of the election tomorrow).  Voters who contribute to campaigns are typically “true believers,” especially as the amount increases, and often actively campaign for their candidates and are rarely dissuaded by any contrary information or facts.  Newton has many of them as can be seen in the chart above, but will it be enough?

By plotting the residence of contributors on a map (thanks Google Fusion Tables!), it appears the choice for mayor is Continue reading →

Funding Details for Mayoral Race

Dollars donated by Zip Code during September and October 2013 for Rockville's mayoral campaign.

Dollars donated by Zip Code during September and October 2013 for Rockville’s mayoral campaign.

This weekend I’ve had a chance to analyze the campaign fund reports for September and October for the mayoral race, which is probably the race that’s of greatest interest because it has attracted the largest amount of money and the largest number of donors.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Bridget Newton is the leader with $17,300 raised by October 27 and Mark Pierzchala at about 60% of that amount at $10,040 (this does not include personal contributions or loans; I’m examining funding support from the community).  The difference, however, is that Pierzchala raised 91 percent of his funds within Rockville compared to 72 percent for Newton.   If elections run on money, here’s a look inside the engine:   Continue reading →

Zip Code 20850 Major Source of Campaign Funding–Again

Donations 2013 OctoberThe second campaign finance reports for the Rockville Mayor and Council elections for the period October 1-27, 2013 were recently submitted and they reveal that Zip Code 20850 (includes Fallsgrove, West End, New Mark Commons, East Rockville, Lincoln Park, College Gardens, King Farm) still dominates the contributions and even increased their giving by 5 percent compared to September.  The other Rockville Zip Codes fell far in the distance at 10 percent for 20854 (Horizon Hill, Fallsmead, Potomac Woods); 6 percent for 20851 (Twinbrook); and 5 percent for 20852 (Hungerford, Montrose, North Farm).   For the entire election season, 20850 is tops at 63 percent, contributions outside the city come in at 21 percent, and the other three Zips stand at about 5 percent.  Again, that roughly mimics the voting records for those regions and perhaps how much they Continue reading →