Although the signatures still need to be certified, Claire Whitaker and Don Hadley submitted their petitions for candidacy for Rockville City Council by the filing deadline last Friday, September 6. Let’s assume their petitions are certified, the ballot on November 5 would look like:
- Bridget Newton
- Mark Pierzchala
- Beryl L. Feinberg
- Don Hadley
- Tom Moore
- Virginia Onley
- Julie Palakovich Carr
- Claire Whitaker
That’s eight candidates, which is one or two persons fewer than previous years (there were 11 candidates on the ballot in 2011, although one withdrew before the election but his name remained). Given how late in the game the last two candidates entered the race, it does cause me to pause whether the City Council should be increased from 5 to 7 persons, a question that also comes on November’s ballot.
I’ll be exploring various aspects of the election in the next two months, but one that’s quite obvious is that four of the eight candidates are from the West End neighborhood, indeed two live so close to each other they could hit each other’s homes with a baseball. The map shows the location of each candidate’s homes (click the map to enlarge: mayoral candidates in blue, council candidates in red). It also means that four of the five seats on the City Council could be captured by the West End, which has been one of the most politically vocal and active neighborhoods in Rockville. But it’s also been one of the city’s most divided neighborhoods with strong feelings on both sides (perhaps you heard about the rancor at their last election), so it’s unclear how these West End candidates represent this neighborhood.
After Mark Pierzchala, Tom Moore, Virginia Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr, and Beryl Feinberg announced in March their intentions to run as a slate (Team Rockville) for Rockville’s City Council, it’s been exceedingly quiet. Bridget Newton’s announcement last month raised the temperatures a bit, but not as much as I hoped. Phyllis Marcuccio and John Hall gave her mild endorsements and she wasn’t able to assemble a full slate to compete. Nevertheless, with Marcuccio’s departure as Mayor, the absence of an incumbent will make the contest between the two Council members for the Mayor’s seat much more interesting.
Strangely, the four Council seats are unopposed with Moore, Onley, Palakovich Carr, and Feinberg as the only candidates (four seats, four candidates). This Friday, September 6 is the last day for residents to submit their petitions for candidacy so that situation could easily change. I’ve heard that Richard Gottfried (a previous candidate), Claire Whitaker (Phyllis Marcuccio’s sister), and Don Hadley (planning commissioner) are circulating petitions, so perhaps we will once again have the usual 9 to 11 candidates on the ballot.
No matter who runs, I hope it’s a much cleaner, issue-focused, and transparent election than the last time. The campaign between Phyllis Marcuccio and Piotr Gajewski was both heated and close, which unfortunately brought out poor decisions and bad behavior from both camps. The City’s Board of Supervisors of Elections (BSE) spent more than a year after the election reviewing complaints, determining penalties, patching holes in the financial report forms, figuring out the voter rolls, and revising the election code. Their recommendations, though, weren’t heard by Mayor and Council until February 11, 2013–just six months ago and nearly 22 months after the election. Ugh. Lots of hard feelings remain in the community, and I am concerned that that the shenanigans will return. I hope not. The 2011 campaign left an especially bad taste and I don’t want to experience it again. I witnessed illegal and unethical behavior during that campaign and went through the official process of filing a complaint with the BSE, but it was never answered despite repeated requests. This year I won’t wait for the BSE (or Patch, Gazette, or Sentinel) and plan to throw a flag and raise an eyebrow more publicly to stop underhandedness and bad behavior in its tracks. So I’ll start with some transparency right from the start: I am supporting Team Rockville and working closely with Mark Pierzchala on his campaign for Mayor. Of course, that will bias my opinions but everyone has biases–at least you know what mine are from the start. And if you have opinions or thoughts, you’re welcome to share them in the comments (I won’t edit or censor them unless they really get out of hand). The more people talk about the issues facing the community, the better it will become.
Just a reminder, Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, 2013. Put it on your calendar (me too! I accidentally wrote November 6).
Last night the Rockville Sister City Corporation held a wine-tasting at Glenview Mansion as a fundraiser for the longstanding non-profit organization. Nearly fifty people attended, which was twice the expectations, delighting president Brigitta Mullican. Among the attendees were Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, and two Council candidates: Beryl Feinberg and Julie Palakovich Carr.
The paneled dining room of Glenview made for an ideal setting for socializing with a nice glass of wine while supporting a local non-profit organization. The wine tasting was focused on white wines, with five selections from Germany, Spain, and the United States. A blind tasting of a range from chablis to riesling to sauvignon blanc challenged people to use their senses to identify the wine. Thankfully, it was limited to five distinct wines and an identification list was provided so I had a fighting chance to get one right.
Fundraisers like this are becoming increasingly difficult for non-profits in Maryland. Costs and regulations continue to increase, which is either eliminating these traditional community events or significantly reducing the income. For example, health codes that affect restaurants are also applied to these one-time small fundraising events as well, so the traditional bake sale featuring homemade goods is nearly impossible and serving meals requires a commercial kitchen with three sinks (yes, three). If this continues, I’m guessing that lemonade stands and pancake breakfasts will soon require health permits and liability insurance. Let’s hope our elected officials in Annapolis and City Hall are watching this trend as much as they are watching casinos and traffic cams.
“Team Rockville” – a group of five candidates for Rockville’s Mayor and Council – was announced yesterday at Giuseppi’s Pizza Plus in downtown Rockville. Team Rockville consists of Mark Pierzchala for Mayor and Tom Moore, Virginia Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr, and Beryl L. Feinberg for City Council.
Rockville’s election will be held November 5, 2013; the candidates are announcing their intentions early and as a team to signal that they intend to bring expertise, productivity, energy, transparency, and diversity to the Mayor and Council as a group.
Leading Team Rockville is Mark Pierzchala for mayor. The owner of an international consulting business based in downtown Rockville, Mark is completing his second term as a city councilmember. He has previously served as president of the Continue reading →