Showing posts with label Rockville election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rockville election. Show all posts

Monday, January 18, 2016

Public forums scheduled to discuss recent Rockville election

Rockville's Board of Supervisors of Elections is hosting a pair of forums in the coming weeks to analyze the November 2015 City election. The forums are open to the public, and it is hoped that candidates who ran in the election will also be able to attend one of the two dates.

The first forum will be held from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, January 23. The second will be from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, February 4. Both will be held in the Mayor and Council Chambers at Rockville City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave.

At least 3 problems came to light during the November election. Questions were raised by one candidate about the machines used. Second, many inactive voters' names remain on the voter rolls. And third, there were reports that there was not a chief judge in each polling place at all times.

If you want to discuss these, or any other concerns that came to your mind during this most recent election, this is the perfect time to do so. For reference purposes, you can read the Elections portion of the City Code here, in Chapter 8.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Newton reelected Mayor of Rockville; Team Rockville takes 3 of 4 Council seats - 2015 election results (Photos)

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton
addresses supporters after
winning reelection last night
Incumbent Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton crushed challenger Sima Osdoby Tuesday night, easily winning reelection with 64.85% of the vote. Osdoby's Team Rockville slate colleagues fared far better in their City Council races. Incumbents Julie Palakovich Carr (12.50%) and Virginia Onley (11.44%) won, as did challenger and former councilmember Mark Pierzchala (11.68%).
A jubilant Newton supporter
celebrates as the Mayor's
big win is announced
Councilmember Beryl Feinberg bested all of the Team Rockville winners with 14.36% of the vote, and was the only independent Council candidate to win last night. The independent candidates were within winning distance though, with Richard Gottfried the top vote-getter among them at 10.25%. These election results are being termed "preliminary results" by the City.
Newton's campaign manager
and husband, Fred Newton,
welcomes the crowd
Council candidate Patrick Schoof (10.07%) managed to finish just behind Gottfried, despite being relegated to "Page 2" on the Early Voting machine ballot; how much his and Council candidate Clark Reed's (9.51%) vote totals were affected by that unfair circumstance remains to be determined.

The other two Council candidates, Brigitta Mullican (10.04%) and David Hill (9.83%) were not out of the running by any means. This was a fairly close election in the Council races.
Newton arrives at her
post-election party at
American Tap Room in
Rockville Town Square
But voters still chose a divided government, and Newton and Feinberg acknowledged in their victory speeches that all of the winners will have to work together to be successful.
Beryl Feinberg accepts
the microphone from Newton
after winning reelection
to her Council seat
"Two years ago, Beryl and I found out we were sisters," Newton told supporters at a post-election gathering at American Tap Room in Rockville Town Square. "We have found a way over the past two years to come together, to work together."
Former Mayor Jim Coyle
arrives at the party
In thanking her husband and campaign manager, Fred Newton, Bridget Newton promised this would be her last election in Rockville. Fred Newton found himself under attack from the Team Rockville slate in the final week of the campaign, an attack that culminated in an election-eve hit piece mailing that included false accusations against him, Bridget Newton, and Rockville Planning Commission chair Don Hadley.
Fred Newton hands the
microphone to Bridget Newton
after announcing the
election results to the crowd
Bridget Newton grew emotional as she described her husband's efforts as campaign manager while juggling an out-of-town work commitment, and the false charges lobbed by opponents. "He's been working his tail off," she said, "and probably of anybody, he's taken it the hardest. He's got my back."

Of the last-minute smear campaign, centered around a now-infamous mailing that carried an Osdoby authority line but also Team Rockville logos, Newton said, "The last 24 hours have been a low point, probably, in Rockville politics. I have never seen anything like what hit your and my mailboxes yesterday."

Pledging the controversy over that mailing is "not over," Newton said, "You cannot say those kind of things and not have anything happen." Hadley has already warned Osdoby and Seventh State blogger David Lublin that they may be responsible for damage to his professional name and reputation as an attorney.

"Don Hadley was maligned yesterday," Newton added. "I hope people realize that you cannot do that type of thing and just walk away."

Who all the players behind the mailing were is not yet clear, but Newton's supporters were anxious to find out. The hit mailing that arrived in voters' mailboxes Monday may also have impacted the results. Not only was Newton's win resounding, but the nasty mailing may have turned off some voters from voting at all.
Feinberg was the top
vote-getter on the Council
Of the 40,749 registered voters in Rockville, only 6,343 (15.57%) voted last night and during the Early Voting, or by absentee ballot. Turnout was actually higher in 2013 at 16.62%, and there was much hand-wringing after the election about that low number. Whatever efforts were made to address that have clearly failed.
Newton and former
Mayor Larry Giammo
Despite the negative political atmosphere, Newton pledged that "we are moving forward with the leadership of this city. We are going to move this city forward in a very positive way." In addition to thanking her staff and supporters, Newton also thanked the independent Council candidates.
Coyle and fellow past
Mayor Steven Van Grack
confer as they await
election results
She also congratulated the winning Team Rockville candidates. "Together we can do this. We can make this a great, great leadership team," she vowed.

Feinberg agreed, telling Newton, "You and I found a fantastic way to work together." Referring to her legislative priorities, Feinberg said, "I have a laundry list at home, so I have to call Bridget probably tomorrow to talk about what I want to work on." Budget and purchasing issues would be at the top of that list, she predicted.
County Councilmember Sid Katz
Both Newton and Feinberg expressed interest in holding a Mayor and Council retreat as soon as possible, to foster a better working relationship among the incoming body, and set "rules of the road."
Council candidate Patrick Schoof
and former
Councilmember Anne Robbins
Among a long list of independent candidates and VIPs at Newton's event were former Rockville mayors Jim Coyle, Steven Van Grack and Larry Giammo; former Gaithersburg Mayor (and current District 3 County Councilmember) Sid Katz; state delegate and 8th District Congressional candidate Kumar Barve; former City Councilmember Anne Robbins; City Council candidates Hill, Schoof, Gottfried, and Mullican; Hadley and Planning Commissioners Jack Leiderman, Charles Littlefield and Gail Sherman; former planning commissioner Dion Trahan; and former Montgomery County Public Schools administrator and County Council candidate Fred Evans.
Council candidate Brigitta Mullican
Rockville Planning Commissioner
and Council candidate David Hill
All of last night's winners made history, as they will be the first Mayor and Council to serve a four-year term.  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, at 603 Edmonston Drive. Their first meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 16.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mullican outraises everybody, Osdoby edges Newton in Rockville election money race

Rockville City Council candidate Brigitta Mullican raised the most in campaign contributions of any candidate on the 2015 ballot, according to the Initial Pre-Election campaign finance reports filed October 1 with the city Board of Elections. Mayoral challenger Sima Osdoby edged ahead of incumbent Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, largely thanks to a $1000 check from Town of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Z. Slavin.

Mullican's report appears to have the longest list of individual contributors, who donated a total of $8069, more than either mayoral candidate raised. She spent $3896.44, and had $2741.15 left over.

Former councilman Mark Pierzchala has the most money in the bank after loaning his campaign $10,000, but he also had the second-largest take in the period with $5385 in receipts. His balance is now $12668.40, after spending $2716.60.

Osdoby raised $5133, spent $1272.91, and had $3979 cash on hand as of October 1. Newton took in $3891.61, spent $1490.24, and has a balance of $2643.44.

Incumbent councilmember Beryl Feinberg raised $4635, spent $4166.77, and had $1443.30 left as of October 1.

City Council challenger Richard Gottfried raised $1060, spent $13597.56 - the most of any candidate on the ballot - and showed a balance of $880.

Fellow council challenger David Hill drew $1558 in contributions, spent $545.77, and ended the period with a balance of $1,246.

Incumbent councilmember Virginia Onley reported $2527.29 in receipts, $1543.61 in expenditures, and a balance of $1095.42.

Her fellow council incumbent Julie Palakovich Carr earned slightly more: $2865; spent 2016.14, and reported a balance of 1023.70

Council challenger Clark Reed raised $2136.70, spent $884.59, and has $973.77 on hand.

Rounding out the council race, challenger Patrick Schoof raised $950, spent $700.94, and has $379.32 remaining.

The Team Rockville slate reported an intake of $5893.09, primarily from its members; has spent $1867.99, and has a balance of $4062.52.

Pierzchala, Onley, Palakovich Carr, Reed and Osdoby are on the Team Rockville slate. Newton, Feinberg, Gottfried, Hill, and Schoof are running as independents.

It's important to remember money isn't everything in elections, as Josh Rales or Steve Silverman can tell you.

Photo via Brigitta Mullican for Rockville City Council Facebook page

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tom Moore not running for reelection to Rockville City Council

Rockville Councilmember Tom Moore has made his election decision - he won't be running again this November for the City Council. Moore made the announcement in an email to supporters Friday.

He cited the time public service has taken away from his family as the major factor in his decision, writing that "my family has paid a high price while I have campaigned and governed virtually nonstop over the past six years, and it is time for me to turn my attentions homeward."

Moore's announcement also cited his accomplishments on the council, including preserving Fireside Park Apartments as affordable housing, tougher ethics rules, limiting retention of citizen data by Rockville Police license plate readers, and his successful effort to weaken the city's school overcrowding rules over vehement, well-organized resident opposition. The latter victory has opened the entire city to new development proposals, as no schools are deemed over-capacity under the new rules.

While Moore did not divulge any future political plans, he did hint that he will be throwing his support behind some of the candidates running for council seats this fall. Moore ran an unsuccessful campaign for the District 3 seat on the Montgomery County Council in 2014, losing to Gaithersburg Mayor Sid Katz.

Moore's decision ensures there will be at least one new face on the council in the next term.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Rockville residents had the opportunity to address the Mayor and Council on the proposed lengthening of 2-year elected terms to 4 years at a public hearing last night. A majority of city voters supported the proposal on last November's ballot. Far fewer turned out to speak at the hearing Monday night at City Hall.

Former city councilmember Mark Pierzchala testified in favor of the change, but lamented the "construct" of the less than 17% of registered voters who voted speaking for the other 83%. Pierzchala, an expert on surveys and statistics, urged the mayor and council to put a second issue - moving city elections to presidential years - back on the ballot again in 2015. That particular calendar change was rejected by city voters in 2013. This time, Pierzchala suggested, the ballot question language should include a statement explaining the benefit intended by the initiative's supporters - namely, increasing voter turnout.

Resident Joe Jordan, who served on the Rockville Charter Review Commission, noted that the majority of voters who didn't turn out last November had the same chance to vote as those who did. Jordan also spoke in support of 4-year terms Monday night.

Twinbrook Civic Association President Christina Ginsberg was more skeptical of the change. Ginsberg said elected officials' efforts to avoid frequent elections, and put forward additional changes that would favor incumbents, were "very dangerous." She recommended the council take the opposite approach, and make changes that would reduce the advantages of incumbency. Such changes, she said, could motivate new challengers to run. Ginsberg mentioned several ideas, including public financing, campaign finance reform, and a limit on how many mailings city candidates could send out.

Another resident, who lives in the Rockshire neighborhood, said she and her husband specifically chose to move to Rockville 37 years ago for its frequent elections, which she believed made municipal government more accountable.

The Mayor and Council are now expected to act on the change to 4 year terms, on the basis of voters' recommendation last November.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Jim Marrinan, a former Rockville city councilmember, expressed concerns about recent and future city elections at last night's Mayor and Council meeting. Speaking during Citizens Forum, Marrinan submitted a written outline of issues he believed the city's election board should review.

Marrinan said the under-17% turnout in the 2013 city elections was unacceptable. He suggested early voting be adopted. The election night delay in the counting of votes was also troubling, and should never happen again, he said.

He also criticized the involvement of partisan elected officials in this month's non-partisan city election. Marrinan did not name any specific individuals, but has been critical of partisan politics entering municipal elections in the past. When former councilmember Bob Dorsey challenged Montgomery County Councilmember Phil Andrews in a Democratic primary for the District 3 county council seat - while still holding a city council seat- Marrinan warned of fallout at the city level. A city official could become less effective, with constituents saying, "I didn't like what that councilman said when he ran in that partisan race," Marrinan argued at the time.

He also suggested that the use of Ritchie Park Elementary School as a polling place while school is in session is a danger to students there, presumably referring to cars coming and going during arrival and dismissal times.

Marrinan endorsed the Team Rockville slate in the 2013 city elections.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


With the 2013 Rockville Mayor and Council election results in, we know who won. But why did they win, and what messages are the voters sending to government through their choices?

There are no exit polls, and we don't have much information about what parts of the city most actively turned out to vote. But we can draw some preliminary conclusions today:

1. Rockville voters prize comity over policy.

Just about all we heard about during the final weeks of the election was the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. And turnout at a public hearing on that issue was large, organized, and just about unanimously opposed to altering the APFO. But yesterday, voters elected only one candidate who aligns with that position, new mayor Bridget Newton. Is that a contradiction?

On paper, yes. But many in Rockville have been critical of the ongoing squabbling between factions during Mayor and Council meetings. A high profile example of diplomacy trumping policy is former mayor Jim Coyle.

Coyle, a highly-regarded leader in the city, was arguably one of the most effective speakers opposing the high-density, mixed-use draft Rockville Pike plan in 2011. But in the election, he endorsed Team Rockville, which favors more growth on the Pike than its independent challengers did. This is a contradiction. However, Coyle has been outspoken in his belief that the city worked better when it elected slates that had general agreement on broad issues. The results suggest a number of voters agreed with Coyle.

2. East Rockville may have been a factor.

East Rockville, like Twinbrook, has been taking the brunt of development side effects, and not getting a lot of attention from politicians. It is also an area seeing an increase in young professionals. Those two trends might be among several reasons Julie Palakovich Carr received the most votes. As she mentioned in the debates, residents of East Rockville are displeased about a number of issues. Displeased voters vote. Politically-engaged young professionals likely saw Palakovich Carr as someone like them: of a newer generation, but wanting to be actively involved in the city. And she was very effective in bringing up practical issues like crime and rat control in East Rockville during the debates.

3. Among voters who did their homework on the candidates, a majority favored denser, urban-style growth for Rockville.

Was it that pro-development voters turned out in greater numbers? There is a contradiction to that, in that they elected a mayor who does not favor that type of growth. But with a 3 vote majority carrying on all issues, Mayor-Elect Newton will face a challenge in stopping it. Palakovich Carr and Virginia Onley, in particular, expressed some reservations about the Rockville Pike Plan during the debates, suggesting they did not entirely share their Team Rockville colleagues' growth agenda. If they hold to that independent streak, there could be room for Newton to reach compromises on height, density and other provisions. But, if you are a developer, you have to be feeling fairly good about the election results this morning.

4. Start early, or form a slate.

The only thing more embarrassing than the low turnout was the lack of candidates running. Don Hadley and Claire Marcuccio felt compelled to enter the race late, knowing they were at a disadvantage, because they could not believe no one else besides Team Rockville was running. The fact that Hadley was just about 80 votes short of winning the fourth seat suggests that he would have won if he had had more time. He had not planned to run, of course, so it was not poor planning on his part. But it is a good example for any candidate who sat out this time, that someone favoring more responsible growth can win if they have sufficient time to make the case with voters.

And if slates remain in favor, it may be necessary to form them to win.

5. Voters want Newton to be a check on Team Rockville.

Newton does not have the votes to stop a 4-1 decision. But the mayor does have power to control the agenda, steer policy, and make appointment nominations. This means that, for example, Newton can continue to fill Planning Commission vacancies over the next two years with residents who share her principles on development and growth.

The ballot question results also speak to voters sending a nuanced message: Yes, we want you to have more time in office, but we want active, engaged voters to have their voices heard in off-year elections.

6. There's much we won't know until this council begins work November 18.

Is it really a 4-1 split? Will independent thoughts, and the message voters have sent about cooperation, allow for alliances to form on various issues? My guess would be that it's possible. Citizens will be the best judge, and will play an important role at Citizens Forum and during public hearings, in communicating their concerns and priorities to the new Mayor and Council. This has certainly been the most across-the-board qualified group of candidates to run - to a person - in my time following Rockville politics. So, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics play out over the next 2 years.


Complete 2013 Rockville Election results: Click here

During the recent federal government shutdown, some argued that electing more women to Congress would end its legislative gridlock. But can electing more women to the Rockville city council have the same effect on a body recently criticized for bickering between factions? The city is about to find out.

No public list of past councilmembers is available online, as best I can tell. But the next Mayor and Council certainly contains the highest number of women members (4) in my recollection, if not in the history of Rockville. Voters yesterday chose a woman (Bridget Newton) as mayor for the third consecutive time since Mayor Larry Giammo left office. And the top votegetter in the council race was a woman, as well (Julie Palakovich Carr).

Tom Moore will be the sole male elected official in Rockville for this term of office.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Former Montgomery County School Board member Laura Berthiaume has released a letter strongly endorsing Bridget Newton for mayor, and Don Hadley and Claire Marcuccio Whitaker for city council, in today's Rockville election.

Berthiaume also provides a detailed analysis she says proves that keeping the city's strong Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) in place - as the three candidates she endorsed have promised to do - will not prevent schools from being built in the future.

Recent attempts to weaken the APFO have been presented to suggest the ordinance was responsible for Montgomery County Public Schools not adding school facilities in Rockville. Berthiaume's provided evidence demonstrates that the APFO was not to blame in any of those instances. Rather, other issues at the county level interfered, Berthiaume writes.

Instead, Berthiaume argues strongly for keeping the APFO guidelines in place to prevent even more overcrowding in Rockville public schools. She says that Rockville Pike development will add
4-6000 new units alone. By 2016, Julius West Middle School will have more students than many small colleges, she notes.

"Do you want to see our sole middle school handling 1,800 or more students by 2020?," Berthiaume asks fellow voters in her letter.  "Please ask yourselves that question as you go in to vote [today]."

"It seems to me that one set of candidates [Team Rockville slate] favors essentially unlimited residential construction along 355, no matter the impact on our schools, while three excellent candidates will protect our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) standards," she writes.

Her letter concludes:

"If you care about our children --or if you are just the sort of person who doesn't want to live in Crystal City - and never did - I ask you to please go out [today] and vote for Bridget Newton for Mayor, and Don Hadley and Claire Whitaker for Council."

Whitaker has also been endorsed by Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich, Senator Jennie Forehand, and Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


If you were tuning in for drama, zingers, and contentious bickering, you were very disappointed by the end of the Rockville City Council debate hosted by the League of Women Voters. No political careers ended, and every candidate came across as qualified and prepared to serve on the council.

With no knockout blows landed, Rockville is headed for a turnout-based election. Having a slate in Team Rockville, and needing a 3-vote majority to steer the city's direction, the factions are clearly defined. Those who favor higher-density development, and a higher rate of population growth in the city, will tend to favor Team Rockville (although not every member of Team Rockville has the same position on building heights, or what changes he or she would favor in the city's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance). And those concerned about building heights, traffic impacts, and other effects of dense urbanization, will likely back the unofficial slate of Bridget Newton (for mayor), Don Hadley and Claire Marcuccio Whitaker.

Which faction can turn out their folks on election day? That is the big question.

Hadley and Whitaker have clearly become more comfortable with each debate, after entering the race at the last minute to deny Team Rockville an unopposed sweep. Both were on message on their primary agenda points in consecutive televised debates: opposition to a dense urbanization of Rockville, and concern over the city's finances and debt.

Councilmember Tom Moore offered a different perspective, citing the benefits of bond-funded construction of city facilities. Moore also scored points with longtime city residents with his brief anecdote noting his grandmother's lengthy service as a scheduler at the city's senior center. A minor point, but one that can carry weight in a municipal election.

Beryl Feinberg had her best performance at this debate. The question regarding how candidates would protect the city from future economic downturns was tailor-made for Feinberg, who has spent years working on budgets for Montgomery County. Just as Virginia Onley was effective on housing in the Twinbrook debate, I think voters came away from this one associating Feinberg with budgetary experience. (Of course, depending on a voter's opinion of the county budgets of the last few years, that could be a plus or a hindrance).

Onley did well, as did Julie Palakovich Carr. Carr emphasized again her experience on the city's APFO review commission, which required consensus-building among stakeholders with often opposing interests.

Feinberg, Onley and Carr express independent views often enough that - while Team Rockville supporters will vote the slate - it will be interesting to see which TR members are the choices of those backing Hadley and Whitaker. Carr has repeatedly declined to take a position on the controversial ballot questions, for example. In contrast, Moore has dedicated much of his allotted speaking time to strongly urging his constituents to vote for 4 year terms, and to hold city elections in presidential years. And Feinberg, Onley and Carr have made comments throughout the debates that suggest they favor less density and height in future development than Moore and mayoral candidate Councilmember Mark Pierzchala.

Friday, October 11, 2013



A civil debate produced virtually no heated moments in Twinbrook last night. Mayoral candidates Bridget Newton and Mark Pierzchala (both current Rockville city councilmembers), and council candidates Julie Palakovich Carr,  Beryl Feinberg, Don Hadley, Virginia Onley, Tom Moore, and Claire Marcuccio Whitaker answered questions prepared by the Twinbrook Civic Association.

The forum was moderated by former Maryland delegate Cheryl Kagan.

In my personal, subjective opinion, the debate was not a game-changer for any candidate. No one hurt themselves, no one sounded unqualified to serve, but neither did anyone score sufficient points to change the dynamic of the race.

The three candidates who did the best job of conveying a compelling argument for election Thursday evening (again, in my opinion), were Hadley, Onley and Whitaker.

Hadley has been an intelligent, deliberative member of the Rockville Planning Commission, and currently chairs that body. His remarks in the second debate emphasized having an inclusive process and discussion as the city confronts major development pressures inside and outside its borders.

Some in the city are "moving too quickly" to embrace a dense urbanization model for development in Rockville, Hadley said. There are "questions that have to be answered, before we rush into this lock, stock and barrel," he suggested.

One of the biggest questions is traffic congestion, and Hadley acknowledged that, despite the work of the Planning Commission, congestion would remain a problem if the Rockville Pike plan passes. He noted that the proposed Montgomery County Bus Rapid Transit line for Rockville Pike would have only two stops, and therefore not be a viable system for actual residents.

Hadley also mentioned the issue of diversity in city outreach, suggesting Latino and Asian residents were under-represented on the council, in development discussions, and even in the debate audience. This was an important topic to raise, as this is a major problem countywide. Many of the areas targeted for "infill development" or redevelopment are currently home to large numbers of residents for whom English is a second language. Therefore, many are not even aware that proposed zoning changes and master plans could force them out of their current homes and businesses. One Rockville official told me he regretted the lack of successful outreach to Latino residents in areas like Twinbrook, despite the efforts made in that direction.

Finally, while some proposals seem to gain traction at the council level despite majority opposition among voters, Hadley promised a different approach. "I don't want to preach to the public; I want to listen," he said.

Onley was effective in highlighting the incredible challenge of affordable housing facing the city. It was an opportunity to capitalize on her relevant experience with Rockville Housing Enterprise. She expressed pride in the $32 million mortgage that protected 236 residents at the Fireside Park apartments from large rent increases, calling it a "win-win" for the city.

Moore concurred, calling it "our finest of the things I'm most proud of" in his first term in office.

The other strong point of Onley's case was having compelling statistics to round out her case. She noted a affordable housing opportunity recently drew 5000 applications for RHE. Recently, architect and urbanization advocate Roger Lewis told the Rockville Planning Commission to pass a Pike plan that would permit dense development in Rockville. Yet, just a few months ago, Lewis acknowledged in his Washington Post column that the current Smart Growth Juggernaut will not provide the amount of affordable housing he and other advocates had previously claimed. In substantive terms, Onley said she would oppose fee-in-lieu arrangements that would allow developers to buy their way out of minimum affordable housing requirements.

Whitaker made an effective argument for caution in plunging into urbanization of the city. With two phases of White Flint development creating 9600 units apiece, Whitaker said, more than 30,000 new cars would be brought to Rockville Pike. Only a small percentage of those new residents will drive, she said.

Whitaker also made a good point on the city's finances. She cited Rockville's neighbor, Gaithersburg (which has been in a land-grab battle with Rockville along their shared border, it should be noted), for taking a better approach, in her opinion. Under Mayor Sid Katz, Gaithersburg has $0 debt, and $65 million "in the bank, earning interest," she said. Ironically, Gaithersburg has experienced a real estate development boom in recent years, yet at far lower densities than those at White Flint, or proposed in the Pike Plan draft.

Onley and Whitaker also connected with the average working person in the city. The former noted the misperception that "everybody is rich in Rockville," while the latter recalled her early years in East Rockville, wearing "clothes that were made out of chicken feed sacks."

Other candidates made good points as well. Carr pressed the overlooked issue of crime in East Rockville, saying she was surprised to find out 2 police officers were tasked with patrolling that entire area.

Newton concurred, and was able to highlight that her work with the Maryland Municipal League resulted in 2 additional officers being added to the city police force.

Pierzchala displayed his background in public service and statistical data, with his proposal that the city change the methods by which it measures success in responding to citizen complaints.

Feinberg promised she would place a special priority on senior citizen issues, such as the needs of residents who are aging in place.

And Moore pointed to his success in advancing significantly more stringent ethics and disclosure requirements for elected officials.

One slightly odd element to the debate format, was the seating arrangement, which emphasized that there were two separate factions as if they were political parties, rather than seat candidates in alphabetical order. Hadley drew attention to it, saying the seating "implied divisions that don't necessarily exist."

So, no one was knocked out of the race. Hadley, Onley and Whitaker have not necessarily pulled ahead in the race. But I thought they put themselves in a strong position to do so if they build on their performances Thursday in the next debate.

That final debate is scheduled for October 22.