Showing posts with label Mayor and Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mayor and Council. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Rockville appoints new City Manager

Rockville has a new City Manager. Jeffrey J. Mihelich was unanimously appointed to the position Monday night by a unanimous vote of the Mayor and Council. Mihelich will officially start work on Monday, July 15, 2024, after four years as City Manager of Bozeman, Montana. He should be well-prepared for the City of Rockville, as Bozeman has experienced booming growth since 2020, forcing officials there to scramble to upgrade infrastructure and find a way to fund those projects. The pace of construction and growth in Rockville will seem leisurely in comparison.

City Councilmember Adam Van Grack reports that a series of open houses and other events will be scheduled to provide a chance for residents to meet Mihelich, and engage with him on their issues and concerns. Mihelich replaces Robert DiSpirito, who is now City Manager of Takoma Park, after a national candidate search. Acting City Manager Barack Matite will continue in the position until July 15.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville

Monday, March 18, 2024

Rockville residents asking Mayor & Council to boost funding for police as Montgomery County retreats

A downward spiral that began when the Montgomery County Council made a modest effort to "defund the police" in 2021 by cutting 30 positions picked up speed on November 1, 2023, when the Montgomery County Police Department announced it would no longer respond to 911 calls in the municipalities of Rockville and Gaithersburg, unless their respective City police departments had no units available or needed backup assistance. The pull-out was due to a shortage of officers, which is forecast to grow to 239 vacancies by July 2025. Montgomery County currently has 176 police officer vacancies, as former County Council staff member Adam Pagnucco reported last fall. Rockville residents concerned about the greater responsibility now being shouldered by its municipal police officers plan to press the Mayor and Council to boost funding for the Rockville City Police Department outside of City Hall tonight, March 18, 2024 at 6:45 PM.

Residents want to "let the City Council know that public safety, funding and support for the Rockville Police Department is important, especially given the increasing crime throughout Rockville and the County, as a whole," rally organizer Brigitta Mullican said in a press release about tonight's effort. The Mayor and Council will be holding a hearing on the city's FY-2025 budget during their meeting tonight. 

Last month, Rockville City Police Chief Victor Brito told the Mayor and Council that his department is now handling 88% of emergency calls within the city limits. That's up from 71% in 2018. Mullican said that she will be testifying during tonight's public hearing for an increase in police funding and salaries. 

Recruitment has become a challenge nationwide, as officers in many jurisdictions where elected officials have disparaged or criticized police - including Montgomery County - have either retired early, or moved to other departments around the region or country that are perceived as being more supportive of police officers. The competition for the reduced number of people choosing to enter the law enforcement field has become intense as a result. Rockville must remain competitive with officer salaries and benefits to attract enough officers to handle its increased responsibilities.

Brito's presentation last month showed the impact of the City's greater call load - exacerbated by a persistent crime wave in the County since 2020 - on officer response time. He noted the national statistics that indicate that for every additional 1000 emergency calls, another 9 minutes are added to response time, on average. 

Participants in tonight's rally outside City Hall, located at 111 Maryland Avenue, are asked to bring signs showing support for Rockville City police. A group photo will be taken to show the size of support from residents for City officers.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Rockville Mayor & Council to be briefed on plan to replace church with townhomes

Rockville's Mayor and Council will receive a briefing on a proposal to demolish a church in the Twinbrook area of the city, and replace it with a new townhome development, at their meeting tonight, February 12, 2024 at 7:00 PM. Developer Pulte has proposed redeveloping the church property at 5906 Halpine Road with 36 "two-over-two" townhomes. No decision will be made tonight; the briefing is for information purposes only, and to allow the Mayor and Council to comment or provide feedback and suggestions to Pulte.  

At a future date to be determined, the Mayor and Council will hold a public hearing to allow residents and other stakeholders to comment. Then they would schedule a future vote on a resolution for rezoning the property, approving the Project Plan, and authorizing the necessary waivers for a side yard setback and layback slope for the project. 

Nearby residents have raised concerns about overflow parking, and the potential reduction of the setback required. The grade of the church property has also led to worries about drainage impacts from the future townhome site. Some residents of the adjacent townhome community are concerned that the contemporary design of the new townhomes could cast shadows onto their shorter homes. Many who have contacted City staff have also advocated for leaving the trees on the church property in place. Pulte's current plan would do that, and also plant additional trees as part of the new development's landscaping.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Twinbrook Quarter developer seeks ROW agreement with Rockville for Wegmans, wayfaring signage

B.F. Saul, the developer of the future Wegmans-anchored Twinbrook Quarter development, is seeking an agreement and air-rights easement for wayfinding signage at the mixed-use property from the City of Rockville. The signage, which would present the name of the development and its retail tenants, would be placed within the public right-of-way along Rockville Pike, Halpine Road and Chapman Avenue. Other signs would be attached to the buildings above ground level, hence requiring an air rights easement to protrude into the public space above the sidewalk. 

Proposed Rockville Pike signage locations

The space in question belongs to the City of Rockville, but could later be ceded to the Maryland State Highway Administration if a FLASH bus rapid transit station is constructed at Twinbrook Quarter. Route 355 itself is currently a MDSHA right-of-way. The land directly adjacent to it on the east side of the Pike presumably was turned over to the City of Rockville when a city-controlled parallel service road was proposed. Only a portion of the service road has been constructed so far.

Halpine Road sign locations

The 99-year agreement proposed would be revocable at any time on 30-days' notice by the City. Twinbrook Quarter would assume all maintenance, insurance and liability requirements for the portions of the right-of-way and air rights in question. The Mayor and Council will review and discuss the proposed agreement and easement at their meeting tonight, January 22, 2024 at 7:00 PM. City staff recommends that the Mayor and Council approve and authorize the Acting City Manager to execute a Revocable License and Maintenance Agreement and an Air Rights Easement for Private Amenities in the public right-of-way with Twinbrook Quarter, LLC.

Chapman Avenue sign locations

Monday, December 18, 2023

Rockville Mayor & Council to be briefed on proposed Rockshire Village development tonight

Rockville's Mayor and Council will receive a briefing on the Rockshire Village development plan proposed by local developer EYA at their meeting tonight, December 18, 2023 at 7:00 PM. Approval of the plan would require amending the 1966 Rockshire development plan for this property, a former shopping center located at 2401 Wootton Parkway. 

The proposal under discussion is essentially the same as was first introduced this past spring. 31 single-family homes, 29 3-to-4 story townhomes, and a neighborhood park would be constructed on the property. The amount of commercial and office space proposed has been reduced from 5,500-square-feet to 5,200 SF (the original size proposed last spring was 5000 SF). EYA is also seeking a parking waiver related to the commercial/office portion of the project, as well as a road code waiver for a proposed private alley, which would not comply with a City requirement that any road constructed must either connect to an existing road or end in a cul-de-sac.

Following tonight's briefing, EYA will be asked to revise its plan to address existing concerns about the driveway access from Hurley Avenue, outdated traffic studies being used by EYA, trees, the relocation of a trail near the Korean Presbyterian Church, parking capacity, and pedestrian access to the retail structure from the Carl Henn Millenium Trail that were raised this fall by nearby residents and the Rockville Planning Commission. In addition, the plan revisions would address any new concerns expressed by the Mayor and Council at tonight's meeting.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Rockville Mayor & Council to consider dissolving Civic Center and Mansion Subcomittee

Rockville's Mayor and Council will consider a resolution that would dissolve the City's Civic Center and Mansion Subcommittee at its meeting tonight, December 4, 2023 at 7:00 PM. The subcomittee was created in 1991, when the process of creating an historic district around the Glenview Mansion and surrounding grounds was getting started. Over 30 years later, the mansion and grounds are now part of the Rockville Civic Center Park historic district, and the subcommittee has guided to completion the major projects to restore, maintain and enhance the property. As a result, the subcommittee itself - along with several other related City commissions - have recommended disbanding the subcommittee.

Dissolution of the subcommittee will have no impact on funding for the mansion and park. Anticipated future projects will be of a scope that can be successfully handled by the Department of Recreation and Parks, and the Recreation and Park Advisory Board, city staff have concluded. As a result, the staff report suggests the Mayor and Council approve the resolution at tonight's meeting.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Rockville election results: Monique Ashton elected Mayor; Van Grack, Jackson, Myles upend Rockville United slate sweep

Rockville Mayor-Elect Monique Ashton

Rockville election results unofficially show Monique Ashton has been elected to serve as the city's next mayor. Ashton's full Rockville United slate was slightly less successful, as voters chose Barry Jackson, incumbent Dr. David Myles, and Adam Van Grack over slate member Paul Scott. Rockville United slate members Kate Fulton, Izola Shaw, and Marissa Valeri were victorious, however, giving Ashton a potential 4-3 working majority on any issue the slate members have consensus on. 

Rockville voters spoke loudly and clearly on a series of controversial ballot questions, overwhelmingly opposing allowing non-citizens to vote in City elections, electing councilmembers by districts rather than At-Large, and allowing residents as young as 16 to vote in City elections. Term limits, by contrast, were a winning proposal for the low-turnout electorate; the mayor and council could be limited to 3 terms in the future, should Ashton and the Council enact the non-binding term limits initiative approved by a whopping 74% of voters yesterday. 

Ashton will be the City's first mayor of color when she takes the oath of office at an inauguration ceremony for the new Mayor and Council at 1:00 PM on Sunday, November 19, 2023 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, located at 603 Edmonston Drive. The public is invited to attend the ceremony. She defeated long-serving Councilmember Mark Pierzchala by an unofficial margin of 58.71% to 40.88%. 

Voters likely took note of Ashton's very active term on the City Council. At a time when Rockville businesses were struggling during the pandemic, Ashton was highly-visible and engaged in public events and business ribbon-cuttings where other elected officials were often missing. And while her election is historic for the City - in contrast to some politicians - she did not make breaking that racial barrier a focus of her campaign, instead making her case to voters solely on her record and vision for the future of Rockville.

Incumbent Councilmember Dr. David Myles rivaled Bill Clinton as the "Comeback Kid" of last night's contest. Despite a stellar personal resume as a physician and U.S. Navy veteran, Myles' political career teetered this fall when an alleged episode of domestic violence resulted in his arrest, and the arrest of his wife. Both were initially charged in the case. The ensuing TV news coverage raised sincere concerns among advocates for victims of domestic violence, but was also seized upon by some who disfavored his reelection. 

While there were calls for Myles to end his campaign, Rockville City police officers cited his wife as the "primary aggressor" in the incident, and the assault charge against him was eventually dropped. Myles briefly reignited the controversy by making an introductory statement on a domestic violence-related Mayor and Council agenda item a few weeks after the incident. A few of his colleagues, and some residents attending that meeting, denounced Myles' remarks shortly after they were delivered, stating that he was not to have been the councilmember to introduce the resolution. It was unclear how Myles gained the floor to speak, if that had been decided beforehand.

Although it would be considered a serious political error by most people to have engaged in the topic of domestic violence at a time when he was being told by many to step aside, Myles' remarks were touching on a legitimate topic: abuse or violence against men by their spouse or partner. It is a matter that often receives little attention in the discussion of domestic violence. Myles' reelection - and the dropping of the charge - give him some level of public vindication, as well as four years in which to try to put the episode behind him with new political accomplishments.

Fulton, Jackson, Valeri and Van Grack scored convincing victories through name recognition from their active participation in the community over the years. Jackson and Van Grack were able to prevail over the Rockville United slate by combining that with a tremendous amount of old-fashioned hard work in their campaigns over the summer. Both corralled lengthy lists of prominent endorsers, with names that could boost a campaign. Van Grack ran what was arguably the most sophisticated and media-savvy campaign of all the contenders, and it paid off at the polls, as he received the second-highest vote total of the five elected to the City Council. Shaw put together a compelling progressive message, and rode that ideological lane to victory.

Despite the controversial ballot questions, turnout remained low in the 2023 City election. One reason for this may have been the lack of clear contrasts on development issues in the race. For example, only Pierzchala and Council candidate Anita Neal Powell stated that they opposed the construction of multifamily housing in single-family-home neighborhoods. Both lost.

The consensus of so many candidates in favor of such a contentious proposal suggests a sea change in city politics. Ashton follows two strong-willed mayors who will be remembered for blocking - at least temporarily - urbanization plans that would have upended the city's suburban character and decimated its booming Rockville Pike retail sector. Newton and the late Phyllis Marcuccio pulled out all the stops to appoint Rockville Planning commissioners who represented the interests of residents, as opposed to the developer-beholden Montgomery County Planning Board. Developers came back again and again with attempts to water down infrastructure requirements, and sometimes won with this battering ram approach. But the city's character held, and Herculean efforts by Marcuccio and Newton saved neighborhoods and the Rockville Pike shopping corridor that is the highest generator of commercial revenue in - and for - the state of Maryland.

As such, Ashton's future nominees to the Planning Commission will be awaited with great interest. Her level of commitment - and that of her new colleagues - to a Thrive 2050-style bulldozing of single-family-home neighborhoods like Twinbrook and Hungerford will also be closely monitored. In her previous campaign as an ally of Newton, and in her time on the Council over the last four years, Ashton has appeared to favor responsible growth policies. If she can maintain that, and play 4-D chess with Planning Commission appointments like her two immediate predecessors, Ashton will join them in being remembered for defending the interests of residents, under enormous pressure from builders of multifamily housing and the media outlets they control.

Still, in the short term, there's a sense that advocates of responsible growth have temporarily and unexpectedly ceded the political stage in Rockville. A sense that people who should have run in this election - with its many open seats - didn't. The hyperventilation and overeager campaigning by developer-controlled media outlets like Greater Greater Washington bordered on the comical in this election, as a result. All the articles, endorsements, and region-wide social media mistargeting were largely a waste of time and energy. There was no contest on the next major development issues in this election. Just as Pierzchala and Powell were the only candidates who told GGW that they opposed Thrive 2050-style upzoning of neighborhoods, Richard Gottfried was the only person running who had taken an outspoken public stance in favor of responsible growth in the past. He, too, lost. But even if all three had won, they would not have been able to form a majority on certain growth issues.

So, maintaining the character of Rockville will be a serious challenge in the upcoming Mayor and Council term. Other challenges will include the struggles of businesses and the empty storefronts of Rockville Town Center, a persistent spike in crime, and a lack of civic participation in elections. The first meeting of the new Mayor and Council will be held on Monday, November 20, 2023 at 7:00 PM at City Hall.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Barry Jackson receives endorsements of 13 local officials in Rockville City Council race

Barry Jackson
, a candidate for the Rockville City Council in the November election and President of the King Farm Citizens Assembly, has received the endorsements of several current and former elected officials. His campaign announced the support of Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, Montgomery County Councilmember and former Gaithersburg mayor Sid Katz, Gaithersburg City Councilmember Robert Wu, and Maryland State Delegate Joe Vogel (D - District 17) yesterday. "Having worked with Barry in his capacity as President of the KFCA, I support his candidacy for City Council," Newton said in a statement Wednesday. "Barry brings leadership experience and a new perspective - and he'll work to make our City safer and more equitable for all."

Former elected officials endorsing Jackson include past Rockville mayors Susan Hoffmann and Steven Van Grack; former Rockville City Councilmembers John Britton, Piotr Gajewski, Tom Moore and Bob Wright; and former Kensington mayor Pete Fosselman. "Barry is inclusive, he listens, and he fights for his community but is not abrasive," Hoffmann said Wednesday. "He will fight for you." Jackson also has backing from prominent community members, including peace activist Jeni Stepanek, former Senior Citizens Commission chair Anne Herbster, and KFCA board member Matt Roh.

“I am honored to have the support of so many local leaders," Jackson said in a statement. "Their support reflects their confidence in my experience and ability to bring real, positive change to Rockville’s City Council."

Photo courtesy Committee to Elect Barry Jackson

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Adam Van Grack endorsed by District 17 Senator Kagan, Delegates Spiegel & Vogel in Rockville City Council race

Delegate Ryan Spiegel

Adam Van Grack
, a candidate for Rockville City Council, has added to his lengthy list of endorsements from area elected officials. Newly-appointed Maryland State Delegate Ryan Spiegel (D) has joined his District 17 delegation colleagues Senator Cheryl Kagan (D) and Delegate Joe Vogel (D) in backing Van Grack in the race. "Adam Van Grack has been an active member in the Rockville legal community for many years," Spiegel said in a statement. “He has the expertise and experience to excel on the Rockville City Council, and he is the type of leader who I know can get big things done. I am proud to endorse Adam Van Grack for Rockville City Council and urge you to join me in supporting him."

State Senator Cheryl Kagan

"Delegate Spiegel has set the standard for effective local leadership and I’m proud to have his support in this race," Van Grack said. "During his time on the Gaithersburg City Council, Delegate Spiegel was an effective voice who listened and delivered results not just for Gaithersburg but for all Marylanders. As a member of the Maryland legislature, I have no doubts that he will continue to benefit from his leadership and I look forward to working with him and our District 17 delegation to deliver results for Rockville, District 17, and our state."

Delegate Joe Vogel

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Rockville City Council candidate Izola Shaw announces endorsements

Izola Shaw
, a 2023 candidate for the Rockville City Council, announced a long list of endorsements at a fundraising event. Elected officials endorsing Shaw so far are Montgomery County Councilmembers Will Jawando and Kate Stewart, Gaithersburg City Councilmembers Lisa Henderson and Robert Wu, and former Rockville City Council member Virginia Onley. “I am proud to support Izola Shaw for Rockville City Council,” Jawando said in a statement Monday. “She has a proven track record of community service and policy experience. Our County has benefited from her dedicated work to advance equity.”

Shaw has also received the endorsement of several community leaders, activists and organizations. These include Progressive Maryland and CASA in Action. Among the individuals supporting Shaw are Rockville resident and community faith leader Rabbi Rain Zohav, Rockville resident and activist for peace Dr. Jeni Stepanek, community organizer Alex Vazquez, and Rockville resident and community organizer Sandy Shan. Also endorsing Shaw is Dr. Tasnuva Khan. In addition to her position as a the pharmacy manager at Adventist Shady Grove Hospital, Dr. Khan is a co-founder of the Muslim Voices Coalition, an activist for social justice, and a community organizer. She is also the project director of the Faith and Vaccines project at Resolve, a nongovernmental organization focused on social, health and environmental issues and partnerships.

“Izola Shaw is someone who ‘walks the walk,’" Rabbi Zohav said in a statement. "She demonstrates what it really means to reach out, engage, and empower people from all walks of life in the decisions that directly affect them. She embodies the values of love and respect for all of our neighbors — goals our community strives to build. For these reasons, especially at this moment in time, Izola Shaw is uniquely qualified to serve on the Rockville City Council.” 

Shaw has a professional background in community and economic development, having worked at all levels of government, and as a leader of development projects in 12 African countries. Closer to home in Rockville, Shaw has served as a member of the Rockville Charter Review Commission, where she focused on initiatives that could broaden civic involvement and outreach. During the pandemic, she successfully advocated for a temporary freeze on rent increases in the city.

"[My] vision for Rockville is simple yet powerful," Shaw said in a statement. "I want to ensure that all residents receive the quality services they need and have the opportunity to engage in making policies that directly impact their lives. No one should be left on the sidelines, and I have a unique ability to break down barriers to civic participation."

"You will hear a lot of buzzwords in this race like ‘government equity,' ‘diversifying our workforce’ and ‘more representation.’ If candidates are not working to build support from different communities across our beautiful diverse City and addressing those communities’ needs, then they are just words."

Shaw is running for the City Council as a member of the Rockville United slate in the November election.

Photo courtesy Friends of Izola Shaw

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Ashton to lead Rockville United slate in 2023 election

(L-R: Kate Fulton, Izola Shaw, Paul Scott,
Monique Ashton and Marissa Valeri

A perennial feature of Rockville city elections has been candidate slates. 2023 will see that streak continue with yesterday's announcement of a Rockville United slate. Mayoral candidate Monique Ashton will head up the five person slate, which was revealed at her campaign launch event in Rockville Town Square on Saturday afternoon. Joining Ashton on the Rockville United slate are City Council candidates Kate Fulton, Paul Scott, Izola Shaw, and Marissa Valeri. 

“I am proud to stand beside these four people and look forward to working with them to govern the city,” Ashton said at yesterday's event in Rockville Town Square. “Together, we can ensure that all voices within the city are heard and that Rockville remains vibrant, safe, and desirable for our children and grandchildren.”

With several additional City Council candidates being certified by the Rockville Board of Supervisors of Elections last Thursday, there are now 12 people running for 6 Council seats. Councilmember Mark Pierzchala is the only other candidate for mayor who has been certified by the BOSOE as of this morning.

It's possible that other slates of candidates may form in response; this has happened before. Slates can gain advantage simply by providing a short-cut for voters who don't want to research every candidate running. But they can also turn off other voters who don't like being told who to vote for. And some candidates may find an independent run allows them to distinguish themselves better in a crowded field, where they may have winning niche issues that a broader slate message would ignore.

The City Council candidates who are not part of the Rockville United slate are Danniel Belay, Richard Gottfried, Harold Hodges, Barry Jackson, Ricky Mui, incumbent City Councilmember David Myles, Anita Neal Powell, and Adam Van Grack.

Photo courtesy Rockville United

Friday, September 8, 2023

Monique Ashton to officially launch campaign for Rockville mayor September 9

Rockville City Councilmember Monique Ashton will formally launch her campaign to be the city's next mayor tomorrow, Saturday, September 9, 2023 at 2:00 PM in the town square at Rockville Town Square. Ashton says her campaign agenda will focus on affordable and workforce housing, enhancing public safety, improving pedestrian safety through Vision Zero, and investing in infrastructure. While on the City Council, she has worked on economic development issues, public safety, climate change, and returning millions of dollars to the City through resolution of tax duplication matters with the State of Maryland.

“Serving this vibrant community has been an incredible honor, and I am eager to continue working towards making Rockville an even better place to live, work, and raise a family," Ashton said in a statement. "I am committed to working collaboratively with City, County, State, and Federal officials, community leaders, residents, businesses, nonprofit organizations, faith-based leaders and other stakeholders to address the opportunities and challenges facing our city. With their support, we can continue to build a brighter future for all of Rockville's residents."

Ashton has already picked up several major endorsements from local, County and State officials. Among those now backing her mayoral campaign are County Councilmember and former Gaithersburg mayor Sid Katz, current Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman, State Delegate and former Gaithersburg City Council member Ryan Spiegel, County Councilmember and former Takoma Park mayor Kate Stewart, County Councilmember and former Gaithersburg City Council member Laurie-Anne Sayles, and current Gaithersburg City Councilmember Lisa Henderson.

"Monique has proven herself to be a tireless, compassionate leader in Rockville and Montgomery County," Stewart said in a statement Thursday. "I have seen her in action working effectively with other elected officials in Montgomery County and Annapolis to advance our communities. She shows up for the hard work of making policy, getting into the details, and bringing stakeholders together. I look forward to her continued leadership."

Mayor Ashman called Ashton "a brilliant and gifted leader. I’ve watched her bring people together to get big things done, both in Rockville and beyond. She consistently works to find the best solutions and practices to bring to bear in her community. I know that she is 100 percent dedicated to making Rockville the very best that it can be."

Ashton will face off against fellow City Council member Mark Pierzchala in the November 7, 2023 election. Full information on registering to vote, voting by mail, and all other election-related issues can be found on the City website.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Rockville goes purple again for opioid addiction awareness (Photos)

Rockville's Mayor and Council have proclaimed September as National Recovery Month, to bring attention to the nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction. The theme for this year's effort is “Opioids: Let’s Talk About It,” with the goal of encouraging dialogue and openness about opioid addiction, and awareness of the need to avoid stigmatizing addiction. Residents and visitors will see the most visible representation of the month-long campaign in the purple hue being projected onto City Hall, the Rockville City Police Department, and other city buildings, as well as purple light posts around Rockville Town Square.

The Rockville City Police Department will host the Rockville Goes Purple Drug Takeback, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, September 23 at the department’s headquarters parking lot at 2 W. Montgomery Ave. You can also join RCPD officers at the Rockville Senior Center from 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, September 27 to learn about opioids and drug problems in our community, and how you can help.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Montgomery County sheriff endorses Adam Van Grack for Rockville City Council

Montgomery County Sheriff Maxwell Uy has endorsed Adam Van Grack in the 2023 Rockville City Council race. Uy has spent nearly three decades with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department, before being elected sheriff himself last November. Van Grack has now earned 15 endorsements by public officials at the local, state and federal levels. The support from Uy bolsters Van Grack's emphasis on public safety as a priority issue in his campaign agenda.

"Adam will bring a valuable common-sense, results-driven approach to the Rockville City Council," Sherrif Uy said in a statement. "His long record of work in our community and his commitment to working collaboratively with public safety agencies to ensure safe neighborhoods is why I’m proud to endorse Adam Van Grack for the Rockville City Council."

"Sheriff Uy has been part of Montgomery County law enforcement for almost three decades, and his community engagement is exemplary," Van Grack said Thursday. "I am truly honored to have the support of Sheriff Uy in this election. The City of Rockville must prioritize safety and security, and establishing a partnership with all law enforcement agencies within Montgomery County is important for City leaders."

Photo courtesy Friends of Adam Van Grack

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Rockville City Manager resigns

Rockville City Manager Rob DiSpirito has resigned. He submitted his resignation to the Mayor and Council after they held a closed session Thursday "to discuss the appointment, employment, assignment, promotion, discipline, demotion, compensation, removal, resignation, or performance evaluation of the City Manager, employees (sic) over whom the Mayor and Council has jurisdiction." As with most resignations of city staff, the reason for the resignation is not likely to become public, unless the departing official decides to issue a statement. The Mayor and Council have named Deputy City Manager Barack Matite as acting city manager, effective immediately.

A search for DiSpirito's replacement will be complicated by the rapidly approaching city election this November. With the Mayor and Council now serving four year terms, several City Council candidates have called for the selection of a City Manager to be postponed until the next Mayor and Council take office.

"I was disappointed to learn about the resignation of Rockville City Manager Rob DiSpirito," City Council candidate Adam Van Grack said in a statement Saturday. "Although we do not know the details surrounding this resignation, Rockville must carefully and thoughtfully select its next City Manager, who will have tremendous influence on city policy and decisions going forward."

"The new Mayor and Council will work with the new City Manager for at least four years. Therefore, they should have significant input into the selection of that City Manager through an open process that allows them to determine the City Manager’s qualifications...I urge the current Mayor and Council to hold off any City Manager candidate search or appointment until after the new Mayor and Council are seated in November, and I respectfully request that Barack Matite remain Acting City Manager through the election."

City Council candidate Barry Jackson concurred that Matite should stay on as acting city manager through the election. "We need to have the newly elected Mayor and City Council hire a City Manager through a transparent and thorough process," Jackson said in a statement. "Rockville needs to have a City Manager who has the full confidence of the new Mayor and City Council and of all Rockville’s residents. We can only do this with a process begun after the election of a new Mayor and City Council."

DiSpirito served as Rockville City Manager since November 2016. Matite has served as his deputy since January of this year, and while he probably didn't anticipate having to step into the top job this quickly, he has seven years of experience as city manager of Eudora, Kansas.

Photo via City of Rockville

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Doug Duncan endorses Adam Van Grack for Rockville City Council

Former Rockville mayor and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan has endorsed Adam Van Grack in the Rockville City Council race. Van Grack's campaign announced the endorsement yesterday, alongside endorsements from former Rockville City Councilmember John Britton and former District 17 State Senator Mary Boergers. This brings Van Grack's endorsement haul from current and former elected officials to fourteen.

"Like me, Adam Van Grack was raised in Rockville and has been an active member in our community," Duncan said in a statement Tuesday. "I am proud to support him for City Council and I know that he will be an excellent City Councilmember for all of Rockville." It's an ironic twist, as Duncan defeated Van Grack's father, former Rockville Mayor Steven Van Grack, in the contentious 1987 Rockville mayoral race. Duncan went on to become one of the biggest power players in Montgomery County political history, serving as County Executive from 1994 to 2006.

"As we continue to get our message out, I'm humbled and excited that respected leaders are stepping up to support us," Adam Van Grack said Tuesday. "Former County Executive Doug Duncan, former Councilmember John Britton, and former State Senator Mary Boergers have all demonstrated what it means to be effective public servants and community leaders—and I’m proud to have their endorsements."

Friday, August 4, 2023

Delegate Joe Vogel to brief Rockville Mayor & Council after not receiving invite to June meeting

Maryland State Delegate Joe Vogel (D - District 17) will brief Rockville's Mayor and Council on the results of this year's legislative session at their meeting this coming Monday night, August 7, 2023 at 7:00 PM. Vogel requested this opportunity to address the Mayor and Council after failing to receive an emailed invitation to their June 12, 2023 meeting, at which the District 17 delegation was scheduled to deliver this briefing. "After a thorough investigation, Rockville’s Information Technology Department confirmed the issue resulted from a glitch with Microsoft Office 365," a City staff report states regarding the incident. "City staff have since confirmed that Delegate Vogel is receiving emails from the City and the technical issue has been corrected." 

Vogel is currently running for U.S. Congress to represent Maryland's 6th Congressional District. That seat is being vacated by Congressman David Trone (D), who is running for U.S. Senate. The District 17 delegation briefings to the Mayor and Council have historically been part of an effort to coordinate City priorities with legislative action in Annapolis.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Marissa Valeri running for Rockville City Council

Montgomery County native and Rockville community leader Marissa Valeri is running for a seat on the Rockville City Council in this November's election. Valeri's campaign said in a statement that she is the only Council candidate from the east side of Rockville Pike to declare their candidacy so far. The filing deadline for submitting a nominating petition is September 8, 2023.

Valeri is a resident of Twinbrook, which hasn't had a representative on the Council in 16 years. She has served as the president of the Twinbrook Community Association in the past. Valeri highlighted that and other service positions on her resume to several dozen supporters at a campaign launch event. In addition to working in the nonprofit sector for over 25 years, she has served on the most recent City of Rockville Charter Review Commission, and is a co-founder of the Rockville Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

This will be the second City election in which you will have the option to vote by mail. Ballots will be mailed to every registered voter in the City of Rockville on or before October 13, 2023. Return your postage-paid ballot by mail by 8:00 PM on November 7, 2023. You can also drop your ballot off in the dropboxes located in the parking lot of City Hall or Montrose Community Center. And there will be two places to vote in-person on Election Day, November 7, 2023: Rockville City Hall and the Thomas Farm Community Center.

Photo courtesy Marissa Valeri for Rockville City Council

Friday, July 14, 2023

Rockville Mayor & Council to review branding options for new city tagline and logo

Branding and marketing consultant Medium Giant will present two possible branding taglines, and two branding logos, to Rockville's Mayor and Council at their Monday, July 17, 2023 meeting. Medium Giant was awarded a contract last June to devise new branding to replace the City's existing "R" logo and "Get Into It" tagline. A year later, the firm has generated options centered around a diversity theme, and with visuals inspired by existing City iconography.

The diversity-themed tagline options are, "Everyone in All We Do," and "Forward Together." Option 1 requires a lot of thinking to figure out just what the heck it means. Option 2 sounds like a Plan B fished out of Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters trash can. Who knew we might one day be nostalgic for "Get Into It?"

Logo options are stronger than the tagline choices, and Medium Giant deserves credit for drawing on symbols unique to Rockville. Option 1 is a twist on the existing "R" logo, but with a walking R that is supposed to suggest the City is moving forward and progressing. It also plants a cross bottony from the City flag into the top half of the letter R, although it flips the color from red to white. Option 2 is inspired by the "Spirit of Discovery" mural on the exterior of City Hall. It could be said that Option 1 is not something you would be confused or surprised to see on a piece of mail from the City in your mailbox.

The Mayor and Council could vote on the branding Monday night, postpone a final decision, or ask the contractor to revise or entirely redo either the tagline or logo (or both). Once a final tagline and logo are approved, Medium Giant will provide the City's Public Information Office with "the deliverables" to begin a citywide implementation of the new branding. The PIO will then instruct all City departments on use of the branding in communications and public outreach. According to the agenda report, this process would take about three months, and could require additional taxpayer funds.

Images courtesy City of Rockville

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Rockville City Council candidate Adam Van Grack announces 10 more endorsements

Rockville City Council candidate Adam Van Grack released a list of ten more endorsements of his campaign by local, state and federal elected officials yesterday. Van Grack had already been endorsed by former Rockville mayor Susan Hoffmann. His newest endorsements come from former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, former U.S. Congressman Tom McMillen, former Rockville mayor Steven Van Grack, former Rockville City Councilman Bob Wright, former Kensington mayor and current director of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Pete Fosselman, Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman (District 15), Maryland State Delegates Marc Korman (District 16) and Joe Vogel (District 17), former Maryland State Delegate Bill Bronrott (District 16), and former Montgomery County Board of Education member Alan Cheung.

"Our campaign for Rockville City Council is gaining momentum, and these endorsements are proof that we are building a campaign to win in November," Adam Van Grack said in a statement. "I am honored to receive the support of such a vast list of leaders from all levels of government, from the halls of Congress to our City Hall. As the only candidate raised in Rockville, we are building a campaign for a better future for this city that I love."

"Adam understands the challenges facing our city and he knows the solutions that we need," Vogel said in the joint statement Tuesday. "When we send Adam Van Grack to the City Council, he will spend his time working to make Rockville a better city for all." Vogel is also currently a candidate for U.S. Congress in Maryland's 6th Congressional District.

Hoffmann reiterated her support for Van Grack yesterday. "I support Adam for the Rockville City Council," she said. "I know that he will be an outstanding leader responsive to our residents and the needs of the City. His Rockville roots and range of unique experiences make him the right Councilmember to take on the crucial challenges facing Rockville City government at this time."

Photo courtesy Friends of Adam Van Grack