President Barack Obama visited Rockville today, the latest in a series of US Presidents who have visited our fair city. Obama gave a speech regarding the federal government shutdown at M. Luis Construction at 14811 Southlawn Lane (next to Rockville Fuel and Feed, so technically it’s just outside). This site was selected because it’s a woman and minority owned business affected by the shutdown. Attendance was by invitation only, which included plenty of local elected officials, such as State Senator Jennie Forehand, County Executive Ike Leggett, County Councilmember Hans Riemer, and City Councilmembers Mark Pierzchala, Bridget Newton, and Tom Moore (who provided the photos–thanks!).
The election season is upon us and with it come a series of Forums hosted by various community groups around the city. Voters are welcome to attend any of the Forums, as well as meet the candidates and pick up their literature. Each Forum is different so attending one doesn’t mean you’ve seen them all. The hosting community groups are independent and nonpartisan, do not endorse candidates, choose the moderator and format, and determine the questions.
Rockville Channel 11, the City’s cable television station, will air three of the Forums live in October on cable on Rockville Channel 11 or online at www.rockvillemd.gov/rockville11. They will also make them available on the City’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/cityofrockville.
- Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. – Rockville Community Coalition at the Social Hall at Civic Center Park, 603 Edmonston Dr. (televised by Rockville Channel 11)
- Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. – King Farm at the Saddle Ridge Community Center
- Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. – Twinbrook Citizens Association at Twinbrook Community Recreation Center, 12920 Twinbrook Pkwy. (televised by Rockville Channel 11)
- Tuesday, Oct. 15 – West End Citizens Association, time and location tbd.
- Thursday, Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m. – Chamber of Commerce at Montgomery County Media, 7548 Standish Place. Mayoral debate at 6 p.m.; Council debate at 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7:00 p.m. – League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, Maryland at Thomas Farm Community Recreation Center, 700 Fallsgrove Dr. (televised by Rockville Channel 11)
- Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 1:00 p.m. – Senior Forum at the Senior Center in the Woodley Gardens neighborhood.
This is the best information I have available and is subject to change. Please confirm with the hosting organization for last minute changes (the televised Forums are confirmed because of the equipment required; the others are less certain). If you are aware of changes or corrections, you’re welcome to post them in the comments below.
City of Rockville elections are held every two years, at which time the mayor and four council seats are up for election. There are two candidates running for Mayor and six candidates running for four Council seats. The November 5 ballot will also include three advisory questions on changes to the election cycle, council seats, and council terms.
Candidates for Mayor:
- Bridget Newton
- Mark Pierzchala
Candidates for Council:
- Beryl L. Feinberg
- Don Hadley
- Tom Moore
- Virginia Onley
- Julie Palakovich Carr
- Claire Marcuccio Whitaker
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 Community Coalition held a forum on the proposed revisions to the Rockville City Charter, the city’s “constitution”. The Mayor and Council appointed a Charter Review Commission last year to review the charter and develop recommendations to increase voter participation. The commission suggested increasing the terms from 2 to 4 years, increasing the city council from 5 to 7 seats, and aligning the city election with the presidential election cycle. Those ideas were debated last night with lively comments, questions, and observations by the audience of about three dozen people, which included Councilmembers Hall, Moore, and Pierzchala. The City Council is currently considering whether any of these recommendations go to the ballot this fall as an advisory measure, or if they wish to take action immediately.
Good points were made for all positions and rather than share them here, I suggest you watch the forum on YouTube. It should be available in a week or so.
“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 →
A tense discussion late in the evening of the February 25, 2013 meeting of the Rockville Mayor and Council suggests that there are serious problems in the appointment process to boards and commissions, as well as in our elected officials. It was probably missed by most citizens because the chambers were nearly empty at 10:00 pm.
A sense of the troubles began hours earlier, when Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio nominated two residents to the Board of Supervisors of Elections, a city committee that recently lost three of its five members due to resignations. David Berthiaume’s nomination was approved with one councilmember abstaining and Andrew Powell’s nomination failed due to a lack of a second. With one of her nominations rebuffed, Mayor Marcuccio noted that, “I would like to point out that we are in need of a quorum for the Board of Supervisors of Elections and by appointing Mr. Berthiaume I think we have achieved that. But I am quite shocked that our Council does not choose to appoint my other suggestion.”
The issue was forgotten until Old/New Business, when it was raised again by Councilmember Newton (at 3:30 of the February 25, 2013 meeting):
Councilmember Newton: I was disappointed in the decision this evening on Mr. Powell and I would like to encourage this body to think long and hard about Continue reading →
Today’s Peerless Rockville Brunch at Glenview Mansion was packed with lots of members, friends, residents, and community leaders. Mayor Marcuccio was joined by Rockville City Councilmembers Bridget Newton, Mark Pierzchala, and Tom Moore; Montgomery County Council by Phil Andrews and Hans Riemer; Maryland State Delegate Kumar Barve and Luis Simmons; and Maryland State Senator Jennie Forehand. Everyone was generous with their potluck dish and I regretfully made it to the dessert table long after Brigitta Mullican’s famous Christmas cookies had been devoured. During the presentation, Peerless Rockville noted the important achievement of this last year was the designation of Glenview as an city landmark and that this year they’ll be focusing on simplifying the historic designation process in the city.
The Rockville City Council elections are over and while the results aren’t official until certified, congratulations to Phyllis Marcuccio who will continue as Mayor, Bridget Newton and Mark Pierzchala who will continue on Council, Tom Moore who will be new on Council, and John Hall who will return to Council after a brief hiatus (and thanks to John Britton and Piotr Gajewski for their recent service on Council). No doubt everyone has already seen the election returns and noted that the Mayor’s race was not only heated but close–they were separated by 415 votes out of a total of 6113 votes. If 209 people (that’s 3 percent of those voting for Mayor) had voted differently, we’d have someone else as Mayor. It’s even closer in the Council race–Moore made it onto Council by just 51 votes. So if anyone thinks their vote doesn’t count, think again if you’re living in Rockville.
Although we know the election results for the entire city, Roald Schrack has broken it down by precinct which provides a clearer picture of what happened–and what it might mean for the governance of the city during the next two years:
- Voting followed two different clusters of candidates: Hall-Gottfried-Newton-Trahan vs Moore-Onley-Pierzchala. That suggests that the community has formed two different visions for its governance, and since the election resulted in an even split among these two “slates” on Council, we might have Continue reading →
I’ve read the literature, participated in two debates, visited the websites, listened to neighborhood discussions, and talked to some of the candidates and am now ready to announce my endorsements for City Council:
- Tom Moore: I met Tom during the last election and even though I was among his opponents, he was incredibly fair, thoughtful, considerate, and funny. I liked him so much that I passed out his literature as well as mine on election day. Although he wasn’t elected to Council in 2009, he’s continued to stay involved in the community and shows that he analyzes issues and gives other perspectives a fair hearing.
- Mark Pierzchala: Mark’s knowledge of city and neighborhood issues has grown tremendously during his first term on Council and he understands the complex nature of making decisions in a diverse community. I don’t always agree with his decisions (he seems to favor businesses more than residents and the city’s heritage at times) but he always explains how he came to his decisions. He’s the only incumbent I’m endorsing for City Council, and losing him would lose continuity on the Council.
- Virginia Onley: Virginia has a long history of service to Rockville through various committees and boards, so she’s experienced the community from various perspectives. Yet, serving on Council will be Continue reading →