Twinbrook Community Association

The unofficial results of the election have been posted on the City’s website. Mayor Newton won re-election, and Councilmembers Feinberg and Pierzchala were also re-elected. Monique Ashton and David Myles are the new Councilmembers.

 
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TCA does not and will not endorse any candidates, and solely acts as a clearinghouse for information to assist the community in making a decision on which candidates they will vote for.

Mayoral Candidates




 Bridget Donnell Newton

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Bridget Donnell Newton

Neighborhood of Residence: West End

Office Seeking: Mayor

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

The number one challenge facing our City is managing growth. This means having the infrastructure capacity (schools, water and sewer, adequate resources for our police and fire departments, roads and transit system) in place to adequately support new development as well as the organic growth in turnover of existing housing. Rockville must work with our partners in Montgomery County and MCPS to get our existing schools – like Twinbrook Elementary - rebuilt - so that all are safe and welcoming with up- to- date classrooms, technology and resources. Good schools create great neighborhoods and great neighborhoods support great schools. I worked hard to convince MCPS to build Bayard Rustin - our newest elementary school- to full capacity – and thank goodness they did since Bayard Rustin is nearly at 100% enrollment in their second year. The City needs to continue to replace our water and sewer pipes to keep up with increased demand and ensure that our public safety officers have the equipment they need to provide critical safety to increased residents and businesses. We must ensure safety on all transit modes (including auto, bus, metro, bike and pedestrian) and coordinate with our county and state partners on accessibility and Vision Zero.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

We are a city of neighborhoods and Rockville must offer a “continuum of housing” so that there are options for every interest, need and budget. I believe that the best communities are those that have a cross-section of housing, incomes and cultures. The City of Rockville is fortunate that we control our own zoning - therefore we can make changes to allow for more options than single family, apartment or condo. I’d love to see row houses like in Baltimore, duplexes/triplexes and quads as seen in DC. We need workforce housing so that our police, firefighters, teachers, social workers can live in the community in which they serve. We need universal design housing so that those with ADA requirements have options that meet their needs. For as long as I’ve been on the Council – I’ve been requesting that developers also build apartments with 3 or 4 bedrooms so that families can live comfortably. I also strongly support maintaining our garden-style apartments as they tend to be a bit bigger, offer balconies and more community style living. When I moved to Rockville in 1981 – I lived at 1001 Rockville Pike and felt very fortunate to have a balcony and green space within my community. Rockville also needs to examine our MPDU regulations to ensure that they are providing the opportunities originally intended. Rockville has many methods to ensure that we encourage housing for all who want to live and work in our City – requiring more MPDU’s in new development, supporting our care giver partners in their efforts and through Rockville Housing Enterprises. Ensuring that every neighborhood is supported equally with regards to City Services and Code Enforcement is vital to maintaining the wonderful mix and quality of options Rockville offers for living in our City.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

Rockville has several transit options within our borders (3 metro stations, MARC and Amtrak, Metro buses), however I have always felt that we were missing the first and last mile. We need some sort of shuttle (or circulator) to get from neighborhoods to transit, town, shopping and dining. I realize that ride-sharing apps are attempting to fill the need however they are also contributing to the emission pollution and congestion. I want to partner with Montgomery College and County officials to establish a new shuttle between the Rockville Campus and Town Center during the week. Scooters are a popular new option – for some – but we need to work through the initial challenges they’ve presented when just abandoned in the middle of our sidewalks. With respect to the State’s proposed I 270 project, I have testified and personally met with state officials to express the concerns of our community. Although it appears that any future widening south of 370 would occur within existing right-of-way, building roads and not transit is not forward thinking. All you have to do is look at what’s happened in Virginia, Texas, Illinois and Indiana to understand that ceding land to a private entity (or another country) to build toll lanes is a bad idea. I was shocked to hear Maryland’s Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn say at a County Council meeting that the reason they were widening I-270 South of 370 FIRST, was so that the tolls would pay for widening the road from 370 to Frederick. Toll roads are regressive and tend to hurt those who can least afford the additional commuting expense. I am also disappointed that other proposals such as a monorail from Frederick to Shady Grove has been given little interest as it could potentially be an environmentally and cost effective alternative since it would run in the State’s right-of-way, not take years to build and offer a hiker/biker trail underneath. Finally – pushing WMATA to best serve Rockville is another project I’ve been pleased to work on as Mayor. Rebuilding both the Twinbrook and Rockville Stations would be incredible opportunities for economic redevelopment and offer safer and better experiences for travelers. I’m the only member of the Mayor and Council to testify at METRO in favor of ending the Red Line turnback at Grosvenor resulting in all trains now running to Shady Grove Station. A huge win for Rockville’s commuters. While Chair of the Transportation Planning Board, I was proud to work together with regional partners at the state and local level to secure historic new dedicated funding from the DMV to support WMATA – another big win for Rockville and our region.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

Some people want to blame the APFO for the slowdown in development that occurred during and following the Great Recession. The fact of the matter is – we are the place we’ve all moved (or stayed) BECAUSE of the great schools, safe neighborhoods and preeminent services. Children crammed into portables, insufficient public safety or lack of premium services come when the rate of development out paces the government’s ability to provide those things which enhance the quality of living. We’ve got to address our concept of school buildings and funding. Perhaps money could come from a larger cut of the casino revenue spread per student throughout the State. Or the County could repurpose empty office buildings into magnet or technical middle and high schools. We need to be more creative in our thinking about what a great education really means and also value acquiring skills in trades, technology and cyber security. We should be publicizing the partnership opportunities currently offered by Montgomery College/MCPS whereby a High School Junior or Senior can get a dual degree – MCPS Diploma and Associates Degree at the same time. That would be a huge savings for our families as well as opening up seats in High School classrooms.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

Environmental sustainability and economic development are not mutually exclusive – they are partners. Corporation, small businesses, retail and restaurants are all dependent on location and the ambiance of their surrounding area. I think that the more green space we include in our downtown, neighborhood centers and redevelopment areas (Twinbrook Quarter, Stonestreet, ) the more time people will want to spend there. REDI (Rockville Economic Development, Inc.) and the Chamber have new Executive Directors and their energy and creativity will be instrumental in moving Rockville forward with regards to our commercial and business development goals. I’d love to see an Arts and Culture District in Rockville so that there’s more to do and learn. We have incredible talent here – let’s find a way to create space so that our artists can work where they live.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

From the beginning - I was one of two on the current Council who strongly supported the Pedestrian Safety Advocacy Committee. After several life altering collisions between pedestrians and vehicles – the City needed to take an immediate and direct approach to ensure that our community could safely navigate our streets. Though Rockville adopted Vision Zero a few years ago – we’ve have had more focus on moving traffic and creating bike lanes which - while very important – does not encourage multi-modal options and pedestrian safety. The PSAC will help us get there and I intend to continue attending their meetings and consider their recommendations carefully. I have heard from many of you that you would like more bike paths so that you and your families and friends can ride for leisure, errands, exercise – but not in or alongside traffic. I wholeheartedly support the Great American Rail Trail - and I hope to partner with all our stakeholders to find ways to create more connectivity through neighborhoods and to existing trails such as the Carl Henn Millennium or the Capital Crescent Trail.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

When this proposal was raised late this Term – I agreed that we should convene a Charter Review Commission and give the community the opportunity to weigh in and also suggest any other changes we might make to our structure for good governance of our City. Unfortunately – that proposal failed to move forward. The issue of increasing the size of the Council was put before the voters in 2013 and was not supported by the majority of voter. Therefore, adding 2 council members by a vote of the sitting Mayor and Council without input from the community seemed to be self serving as campaigning for the 2019 term had already begun. As Mayor I have made a concerted effort to nominate a diversity of residents to each board and commission. Diversity across all sectors including but not limited to racial, ethnic, religious, gender, age, geographic, education, time in Rockville and thought. Rockville is the 9th Most Diverse City in America – and we have a wide ranging spread of opinions. I value that diversity and think we are more representative of our whole community when we listen to understand and not prejudge people’s positions.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

Rockville has a Council-Manager form of Government which means the Council sets policy and gives direction, and the City Manager is responsible for implementation. That is different than your question suggests. The Mayor and Council also supervise (and give direction to) the City Attorney and the City Clerk/Director of Council Operations. I think this is a fair and reasonable form of governing - as the people elect the mayor and council to represent them and they in turn are supposed to represent those viewpoints. I have served 4 years as a Councilmember and now 6 as Mayor. I firmly believe that once elected - it is then their obligation to work together to serve the people. That means putting aside personal differences, moving forward together, and working in the best interest of the whole city – not just one’s own neighborhood, community or viewpoint.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

The answer to this is an unequivocal YES.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

If I was given $1million - I would give it to Twinbrook Elementary School. Rehabilitation of critical areas, another counselor in the Linkages to Learning program to work with students and mental health, ESOL classrooms and support, more teachers and resources, and to make the outside playground area inviting are all critical equity measures that should not be delayed another minute. If I don’t get that $ million– I give you my word that I will continue to work with Mr. Devan and support the administration, staff and PTA. I have enjoyed running with everyone in the Fun Run over the years and will continue to partner with County Councilmember Sidney Katz, Board President Shebra Evans and all our elected representatives to see that we move Twinbrook to the front of the MCPS Capital Revitalization and Expansion list. All elected officials must come together to ensure that we provide quality and equitable education at every school – including and especially to our students at Twinbrook Elementary School. I believe that good schools build good neighborhoods and good neighborhoods support great schools.


Virginia Onley

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Virginia Onley

Neighborhood of Residence: Americana Centre

Office Seeking: Mayor of Rockville

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

Housing Affordability and Town Center parking. We need to work with developers to increase our affordable housing numbers and we need to work with Federal Reality to address our parking issue in Town Center.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

We currently work with Rockville Housing Enterprises to foster more housing affordability. I am advocating pushing harder for developers to increase the number of homes they make affordable. We need to change our laws and advocate for housing both rental and ownership for young married couples, police officers, fire fighters and teachers.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

We don’t have enough public transportation options. We need more mass transit options. We need to come up with a BRT Plan for Rockville. Both Montgomery County and Rockville have BRT Plans.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

No, it is not working as intended. Unfortunately the acronym APFO scares people and it is misunderstood. Its purpose is to guide us so that we balance our infrastructure with school capacity and development. We have not been able to balance the APFO infrastructure guideline with our school capacity and our severe housing shortage. I propose we lift some of the development limits around our Metro Districts and in Town Center to help with this balance.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

I will continue to support economic development that fosters environment sustainability. We have an environment commission that promotes our sustainable community through initiatives relating to natural resource development. I will continue that our sustainable initiative.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero?

What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality? This is an ongoing process and I will continue to foster, street and vehicular safety, making changes were necessary on our roads, at street crossings and at intersections.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

Yes, I support increasing the number of councilmembers. I brought forth an initiative that failed on a 2 to 2 vote to add an advisory referendum question to this year’s election ballot to increase the number of councilmembers. As we grow and become more diverse, it is imperative that we harness our diversity and increase the opportunity for more racially and ethnically diverse voices and more geographic representation from across our entire community to be heard and participate in our governing process.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

Yes, I am satisfied with our City-Manager form of government. I feel it’s best for the Mayor and Council to set policy and govern. This allows the governing body to pay attention to how the City is run and not worry about the day to day activity of running our City.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes, absolutely, as a women, a minority and an individual who started school during segregation and integrated after starting school, I know firsthand how it feels to be discriminated against and I will continue to support and fight for the equal rights of all individuals.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would apply it to our parking crisis in Town Center. That would alleviate some of the burden on those patronizing Town Center and be a win for our entire City.


Monique Ashton

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Monique Ashton, MPH

Neighborhood Where You Reside: West End. I have lived in both East and West Rockville over the past 15 years.

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

There are a number of challenges facing Rockville that I will tackle through community engagement and input, data driven analysis, expert consultations, strategic planning, and collaborations with city staff and council. For the purposes of this question, I believe that our city is need of revitalization and smart growth, while also balancing the need to ensure that our we consider our city’s infrastructure needs to protect our residents from untenable school overcrowding, traffic congestion and pedestrian safety issues, and water, sewer, and police needs. I will work with city leaders and communities to help ensure economic vitality, walkable neighborhoods, and safe vibrant spaces for our families to enjoy. As new developments are proposed I will take measures to support and attract small businesses; preserve green space; create opportunities for affordable and workforce housing near transit areas; and promote environmental sustainability while preserving the character of Rockville. I will also work with our city staff to ensure that our approved development is accounted for in forecasting for growth pressures with Montgomery County Public Schools, and I will coordinate at the state and county levels to advocate for adequate school capacity and capital improvement planning. We want growth in Rockville, but we have to be smart and about how we execute that goal.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

I think that the City can and should continue to help on affordable and workforce housing. Affordable housing is a national crisis and a challenge in Rockville. There a range of efforts that the city can help in: 1) Planning for affordable and workforce housing with smart growth projects near mass transit. If the city is enabling Champion projects, it can consider increasing the MPDU housing requirement from 15 to 18 percent. 2) Providing more flexibility for participants in the MPDU program. Currently, residents don’t have flexibility to easily scale up or down on housing without leaving the program and waitlisting back in. For example, a senior who no longer needs the space of a larger home can’t easily downsize to a smaller unit that would enable a family to more quickly access the housing it needs, while allowing the senior to downsize. 3) expanding our work with Rockville Housing Enterprises to increase the amount of affordable housing options available. There are several programs that are closed/ waitlisted. 4) Expand housing options so that we foster zoning and development of housing for the missing middle. This would help support housing for those who don’t quite qualify for MPDUs, but still don’t have enough resources to purchase a single family home. This type of housing can range from multi-unit or clustered housing types compatible in scale with single-family homes. This type of approach factors the need for walkable, mixed-use real estate and can help attract young talent and aging demographics. The diversity of this housing would can also allow for a spectrum of affordability, including duplexes, fourplexes, and bungalow courts. 5) Tax credits to support first time home buyers. I would also explore raising the senior tax credit. As home prices go up, so does the property value of some of the existing homes of our seniors who are on a fixed income. As a result, some seniors feel that they have to sell as they can’t afford to stay in the area. We should consider reviewing the impact of this effect and whether increasing the threshold would help seniors age in place.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

I would like to see more transit options in our city, including: 1) more ways to connect our city from North to South and East to West. 2) implementing the recommendation of the ULI report and helping the population of 15,000 Montgomery College students access Town Center and other business centers. This can help support the economic vitality of our business centers while also addressing the concerns of Montgomery College students. 3) Expanding access to mass transit across the city as well as helping those who travel north of the city utilize less cars that clog up 270 and our neighborhoods. 4) Create safe spaces for multimodal transportation including safer options to bike and walk. 5) Working with the County to align and expand the Ride On Flex pilot to areas of high need and to our business centers. I am pleased that our Mayor and County leaders worked with WMATA to eliminate the train turnbacks at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station, which has helped with faster commute options.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) is an important tool that helps to ensure that we keep pace with sufficient public infrastructure to support development before the approval of certain plans and permits. The city adopted the APFO and Adequate Public Facilities Standards (APFS) to establish minimum service standards for public facilities and services such as roads, police, sewer, water, and schools. New developments are required to perform studies to determine if the capacity of certain public facilities could accommodate new development and redevelopment and, if deemed appropriate, require that their impacts be mitigated prior to approval. This helps our city plan and keep pace with the infrastructure needs to ensure we maintain a higher quality of life and services that Rockville residents deserve and expect.

Residents expect a thoughtful and balanced growth approach to ensure pedestrian safety, traffic management, and infrastructure. The City does not control capacity and improvement projects for our schools. However, we can contribute to how overcrowded schools become. Currently, our APFO allows for schools to be 120 percent overcapacity, which is already high. Our schools represent thousands of residents in our city. Our city must help ensure that our student generation rates and approved projects are factored into the MCPS forecasting so that we can better plan for growth pressures. Portables and overcrowding can have a negative impact on our children’s education and we need to work together with the county and state to ensure our families have access to quality public school education. We also need to work with the County to ensure that we build schools to their capacity in anticipation of growth. I worked with community leaders and the County to push for one of the newest schools in Rockville, Bayard Rustin Elementary School, to be built to its maximum capacity of 740. I am thankful that we were successful because one year after the school was built we already have 730 students in the building. As the County analyzes their APFO, I would work closely with them and MCPS on strategies to foster revitalization while planning for adequate infrastructure.

We also need to look at traffic around new development and work with developers to develop creative approaches to help relieve traffic congestion. For example, I was recently at a community forum and recommended that the developer consider partnering with an area developer on a transit bus that would help residents get to the metro. We also pushed for adequate green and park space.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

It is a false dichotomy to put environmental sustainability and economic development at odds. With the latest trends in building materials, prefabricated construction, renewable energy solutions, and energy saver technology, building with sustainable standards is not only good for the environment in the long run, but it also makes for good economics for the future habitants of the development and consequently produces more valuable commercial and residential real-estate. As a council-member I will push for smart development policies that protect our environment and the creation of incentives that encourage the use of new environmentally sustainable technologies that will both lower the costs to build and provide for a more environmentally friendly buildings. Additionally we can use renewable energy to lower the cost of energy for low-income residents and make for a more affordable living experience for working class families and seniors. Grid Alternatives is an excellent example of a non-profit implementing this model successfully in other parts of the region. They work to put solar on homes of low-income residents and reduce their energy costs, as well as provide workforce training and jobs to underserved communities to be able to work in the renewable energy space. I would like to see more programs like that in Rockville as well.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

Pedestrian safety is a serious issue in our city, county, and state. A quick look at the data: Across Maryland, there are nearly 3,000 pedestrians who are injured annually. Of all the traffic deaths in Maryland, 20 percent are pedestrians. On average, 400 pedestrians are struck by vehicles in Montgomery County alone. In Rockville, there were 43 bike and pedestrian crashes in 2017, and we know the past year there have been preventable fatalities including a man who was struck this past July in Twinbrook and two people who were struck in Town Center.

The trends we are seeing in our city, mirror challenges that are being faced across the United States, including the growth of our population and more people on the road, the amount of time people spend walking and driving, and the changing nature of car sales to larger vehicles which can have a more severe pedestrian impact than cars, and increase in smartphone use by pedestrians and drivers. In addition, we know that driving slower in neighborhoods can help save lives. A pedestrian hit by a car travelling 20 mph has a 95 percent chance of survival, while someone hit by a car travelling 40 mph has an 85 percent chance of dying.

There are some simple things that we can do to improve bike and pedestrian safety. I support our city, county and state efforts to ensure that Vision Zero becomes a reality. I would also implement our City’s Bikeway Master Plan to make biking safer and our communities more connected. Given that our most dangerous hot spots for crashes occur on state and county roads, I think that communication, coordination, and advocacy are critical. As a member of the Pedestrian Advocacy Committee, I have already begun by reviewing and submitting comments to improve and build upon our city’s Vision Zero plan, met with City leaders and one of our state delegates to ask questions and share ideas, and started to map out ideas for a pedestrian portal to increase awareness, transparency, and tracking. I will support expanding education, engineering, enforcement, and policies to make our roads and sidewalks safer. I would also work to: increase tracking of what issues residents report so that we can identify trends and address issues, create a transparent portal and move forward on our City’s sidewalk development as many of our neighborhoods don’t have a safe place for people to walk, examine and address pedestrian crossing issues, and increase education and outreach to drivers and pedestrians and implement efforts on safe schools. I would also work with our city manager to engage with staff to track our progress on Vision Zero on a monthly basis, and do the same with our County and state leaders.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

Rockville has grown tremendously since the original City Council was designed. There was an advisory referenda question on increasing the number of City Council members that Rockville residents voted on in 2013 and the majority did not agree at that time. Given the growth of our city and the expanded access to voting through Vote by Mail, I think it would be prudent to convene a charter review to consider this question as well as others in the future. I would also recommend putting it to vote before our city residents our to allow for our community members to vote on this topic. I would also recommend community forum.

I also think that there are things that we can do now to engage with diverse community members. I would continue the work to reach Rockville residents through surveys, community forums, outreach to neighborhood associations, and surveys. However, I think that we should do more to reach into other centers of communities where people live, work, and pray, and congregate. I would also like to see more engagement that better represents the mosaic of our city, such as multicultural communities, working families, seniors, millennials, and other minorities. In order to reach underrepresented populations we may need to consider non-traditional ways of engagement, such as outreach through schools, places of worship, affinity groups, and door to door efforts. I would also engage in targeted efforts to welcome new residents to Rockville and engage them in our City.

I also think that it would be beneficial for a debrief with our City staff and candidates who are running after the election. We have uncovered issues and populations who have not been engaged on City matters. We have collected valuable feedback and ideas. I have been advocating on issues as I hear them on the campaign trail, and will continue to do so after the election.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

Background: Before getting into the details of this question, it is important to share that there are several types of municipal structures across the United States: 1) Commissions - Voters elect individual commissioners to a small governing board and each commissioner is responsible for one specific division of city government. One of the commissioners is typically the designated as chairman/woman, who presides over meetings. In this structure, the commission has both legislative and executive functions. This is more of a historic approach to municipal governance and it is currently the least common form of municipal government. 2) Mayor and Council - In this structure, the mayor is elected separately from the council, with significant administrative and budgetary authority and city managers have limited administrative authority. Within this category, the mayor could have weak or strong powers 3) Council-Manager This is the structure we have in Rockville. Our city has a mayor/council and a professional/civil service city manager who carries out administrative authorities. In Rockville, the city manager is responsible to the mayor and the council for the day-to-day management of city operations. Under provisions of the City Charter and code, the city manager prepares a budget for the Mayor and Council’s approval; recruits, hires, and supervises staff; serves as the Mayor and Council’s chief administrative officer; implements the city’s policies; and provides professional recommendations. This is the most common form of government. Across the United States, this form of government has the highest rate of voter satisfaction according to the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

It is beneficial for Rockville to have a Mayor and Council, as well as a City Manager. A City manager is focused on helping to support the needs of the city on a full-time basis, and does not take time to run campaigns. The city manager is intended to be politically neutral and nonpartisan as they carry out the business of the city. They also help offer continuity as political cycles change. I think this neutrality is important to the administration of the city.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes, absolutely. I have advocated for equal opportunity throughout my community advocacy, professional work, and volunteer time.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

In keeping with the responsibility of elected officials to carry out the will of the people, I would first hold a series of community gatherings to solicit input on the prioritization of needs in the community. The second step would be to find ways to leverage this $1mln grant into a larger pool of capital. We can work with a bank or private fund to utilize this capital as a loan loss reserve or first loss capital in a larger pool of money that could be leveraged to do more in the community.

One of my top priorities is community engagement, I think we all do better when more of us are at the table sharing our perspectives and recommendations. I want to utilize the funds in part to find ways to better engage all parts of Rockville in the governance process. I think that alone would dramatically improve our ability to solve for some of the tougher problems in Rockville.

Next on my list would be the Town Center, I think we could use some portion of the funds to implement some of the recommendations that the ULI consultant report suggested to help us bring new life to that space. The town center is at the center of our city and must be vibrant in order to support the economic growth and opportunity that we want to see in the rest of our city.

I would also use a portion of the money to fund some experimental expansions of city services and projects needed to support our diverse neighborhoods. These would include services for families, seniors, disabled, really all the communities in Rockville. With the advent of new technology and better ways to communicate, there are certainly a number of ways to rework our existing systems to be cheaper and more efficient and more engaging to the residents of Rockville.

Cynthia Cotte Griffiths

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Cynthia Cotte Griffiths

Neighborhood of Residence: Monroe Street & previously Twinbrook

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

Rockville's main challenge is ensuring our high quality of life. This is why my campaign theme is “Keeping Rockville the City We Love.” Rockville residents consistently tell me that they appreciate the services and amenities the city provides, but our challenge is to maintain this level of service without increasing taxes. Our police, parks, recreation programs, snowplowing, and other valued services all require a growing, diversified tax base. Rockville, and Montgomery County generally, have lagged Northern Virginia in this regard. Rockville must join with other jurisdictions in Maryland to leverage our strengths through a formal coalition, so that Rockville can thrive with new jobs for our residents, and especially our young adults entering the workforce.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

Housing affordability is an important issue for me, one I have been involved with for a long time. Before ever living in Rockville, I worked for Montgomery Housing Partnership when we built Beall's Grant, a mixed-income community on North Washington Street. Professionally, I have already worked to bring affordable housing to Rockville.

More than 10,000 Rockville households, including 53% of renters and 29% of homeowners, are cost burdened with housing because they spend 30% or more on housing (and many of these are severely cost-burdened with housing costing half of their income.) We need to fix this situation.The city must improve its reputation and have leaders that are seen as partners who will work with nonprofit affordable housing providers and the county to welcome new housing initiatives.

The Washington Council of Governments (COG) recently issued a report highlighting the affordable housing crisis in the region. Montgomery County alone needs to add over 23,000 low-cost housing units by 2030. Millennials and Generation Z are trying to get a toehold inn the rental market and become first-time home buyers. Many of these are our own children, such as my sons. Rockville has about 800 babies born to residents each year. Given our central position in the county and our access to transit, Rockville should set a goal to meet its share of the low-cost housing needed in the county.

As a councilmember, I will build upon my previous work in this area and favor land use policies that promote the creation of housing by transit centers. When people live closer to their work and in places with good access to public transportation, our roadways see less traffic. As a local government we can step in to counteract the market forces that are not meeting the demand for high-density, modestly-priced housing by growing a local housing trust fund and creating medium-density and high-density housing zones. We also should take a deep dive into analyzing the barriers for market-rate construction. A larger supply of housing brings down the cost of housing. Through the Rockville Housing Authority, we must continue to preserve naturally-occurring affordable housing such as we did with Fireside Park. We can also modify the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit program to include a broader range of households.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

Our transit options are generally robust in Rockville. We are lucky to have two metro rail stops in the city and one across the street from the city line. Our county is thriving around metro rail stations. Getting Metro to stop turnarounds at Grosvenor was a big win for us. More reliable and frequent service at our local stations enhances their value to the city. We need to do more in partnership with WMATA to improve the passenger experience at our outdated stations, including replacing the pedestrian bridge over MD355 at the Rockville metro.

As a member of Montgomery County's Microtransit Task Force, I've been involved with the pilot program for the new FLEX on-demand bus service around Rockville metro/Fireside Park/Hungerford. This pilot area suffers from a lack of transit service during the day and at night. My hope is that this new technology, that picks passengers up when needed and brings them where they need to go within a set zone, will eliminate many of our “transit deserts” without continually circulating a bus that is not as user-friendly and would have to run through areas that do not have a need.

Although I know there were concerns about the new Montgomery County FLASH Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line along Veirs Mill Road, it will bring branded, limited-stop service that will improve transit travel time with queue jumps at congested intersections, high-tech new bus stops, and pedestrian and bicycle improvements. The convenience, faster service, and updated sidewalks will add value to the neighborhood.

I would also like to see us improve access to Town Center from the Montgomery College area, possibly with new bus-on-demand service or by implementing Mark Pierzchala's idea of a direct walker-biker path through county and city land that could be used by rental bikes, e-bikes, and motorized scooters.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

The APFO has generally performed well for the capacity factors over which Rockville exercises some control like water/sewer and traffic. It’s not working as well with the schools standard because Rockville has no direct control over school capacity within the city limits. This means Rockville essentially forfeits our control of development to Montgomery County Public Schools. Obviously, we do not want overcrowded schools. As president of Richard Montgomery High School PTSA, we were distraught to loose the funding for an addition to the building two years ago after we went through the architectural phase. MCPS suddenly eliminated the funding for the addition in order to build a new Crown High School. Because the new high school would not be completed as quickly as the addition, MCPS basically pulled the rug out from under our city. This decision immediately halted Rockville's ability to go forward with the Twinbrook Quarter Champion project plan. One school decision should not halt a 30-year plan that would bring a billion dollar investment to the city, create 3,450 jobs, and produce $69.3 million in net tax revenue, which is why the Mayor and Council supported an exemption from the city's school capacity test for the Twinbrook Quarter. We need to have a constructive conversation in the city about whether we are well-served by the APFO schools standard. We also must work closely with our county and state partners to ensure the City of Rockville has sufficient school capacity to implement our smart growth plans by lobbying the state legislature and governor to fully fund school construction (such as with the Build to Learn Act). Other immediate ideas that do not require resources for construction include advocating for online courses in virtual classrooms for qualified high school students, additional consortium school choice programs, and sensible school boundary changes.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

Smart economic development at transit stations is the main way Rockville can be environmentally sustainable. Concentrating our housing and job growth near our transit stations is the kind of economic development that promotes environmental wellness because it results in fewer miles traveled on our roads and the environmental costs associated with that pattern of commuting. A sustainable environment is essential for a thriving economy and is made possible when shopping and taking care of daily necessities can occur without vehicle trips. When electricity is produced exclusively from renewable sources such as wind or solar, we can set policies for new buildings to use electricity. Companies that provide solar and green roofs to buildings can both bring environmental sustainability and economic business success to the city.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero?

The state has only just passed a bill for Vision Zero and has not yet begun implementation. Meanwhile, the county adopted a two-year action plan two years ago and has not made any progress at all. After being involved in a pedestrian accident where the driver was at fault, I've become a staunch pedestrian safety advocate. It's extremely important to elect someone like me who will make sure Vision Zero is a priority and, after we agree on our city's action plan, that it is implemented. We will need to be a strong, unified voice to force the county and state to abide by Vision Zero standards. It's obvious that it won't happen without very strong advocacy from the city, regular meetings involving all three levels of government, and definitive dates for the accomplishment of each action item. The mayor and council will need to reinforce Vision Zero as a priority to the city manager so that proper staffing and budgeting can make it a reality.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

Last time this question was on the ballot, I voted against expanding the number of council members but I have definitely changed my mind. Rockville has grown tremendously since we adopted the five-member mayor/council format. Residents will be better served by a seven-member body that represents a broader spectrum of residents. We also saw that the city was not well-served when a vacancy occurred, leaving a four-member council that often struggled to reach consensus. A larger body would make this less likely to happen.

Effective communication to Rockville residents has been a longtime passion of mine. The first step in making sure everyone is involved with decision making is to make sure they know they are welcome with language translations, diversity in images, and invitations to participate. When the Rockville Central community hub was created in 2007, we successfully involved residents from all corners of Rockville to participate in our local issues. One of the main laments I hear while canvassing is that residents no longer know what is going on since we do not have a newspaper. I had tried to fill this need for two years with Rockville View. It’s difficult for residents to participate in the decision making process when they are unaware of the issues facing the city. Clearly more needs to be done in terms of community engagement and I look forward to providing a regular emailed newsletter to residents, continuing to write about news and issues while inviting comments on CynthiaForRockvilleCityCouncil.com, and experimenting with new ways to communicate, such as with online town halls that use video conferencing.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

Yes, Rockville is well-served by its professional municipal managers. I think Rockville residents, so many of whom are professional public servants themselves, value the skill and technical competence of Rockville city staff. I would not propose changing it. If anything, I would like to see a commitment from the mayor and council to interfere less and I would demand an end to micromanaging city affairs from the dais. The Mayor and Council are to “make policy and establish a vision, and goals, for the city. The city manager, appointed by the Mayor and Council, makes recommendations to the Mayor and Council, and is responsible for day-to-day management of city operations.” The mayor and council should stick to giving clear guidance to the city manager and let him execute it rather than directing and publicly admonishing city staff. We need to reinforce the council’s fidelity to the city manager model of government and elect and reelect the leaders who abide by it. This is a priority for me and all of Team Rockville.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

There are many exciting projects I'd like to do such as new walking and biking paths over the railroad tracks in Twinbrook and Lincoln Park, a grand walkway from the Rockville metro to Town Center, and a new mixed-income housing community by transit. However, a million dollars isn't enough for any one of them! It's only enough to add about ten miles of safe bike lanes separated from traffic by dividers or about two miles of new sidewalks. After taking all this into consideration, I would love to take $1 million and start a nonprofit Rockville newspaper both in print and online with high quality professional journalism focused on local affairs. The marketplace has not provided this essential service to the city and the entire city will be well-served by unbiased reporting of the late night decisions in city hall. We need a space for the promotion of all the events, activities, and programs and the sharing of stories about new initiatives in the city so we all know what's going on.



Beryl Feinberg

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Beryl L. Feinberg

Neighborhood of Residence: Orchard Ridge

Office Seeking: Councilmember

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

There are several complex issues facing the next Mayor and Council, including reinvigorating Town Center, determining the future of the Red Gate property and the King Farm Farmstead, and adopting sustainable budgets. However, nothing is more important than the safety of our residents. A reduction of driver, pedestrian, bicyclist, and scooter traffic deaths and serious injuries rises to the top of my list as the number one challenge facing Rockville. Each life lost or seriously injured is one too many. In addition to bicycle and pedestrian safety, police responsiveness to criminal activities must be immediate and measured so that we each may go about our daily activities free from worry. To do so, requires that our city employees under the leadership of the recently hired Emergency Manager develop emergency plans, drill, and engage residents before weather events or non-weather related emergencies impact Rockville.

Adoption of a Vision Zero Action Plan by the Mayor and Council is the first step. As the umbrella document, it sets the strategic and tactical safety improvements beginning with the policy shift that traffic deaths are ‘preventable, not inevitable’, a systems approach is necessary, not a siloed, fragmented, turf driven series of enhancements. Assume drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and others make mistakes while navigating traffic roadways, sidewalks and intersections. Together we can prevent deaths and serious injuries with engineering, education, and enforcement modifications. Better road design, lighting, reduced neighborhood speed limits, more stop signs, pedestrian activated walk signals, lane markings, additional median grill works to prevent mid-street crossings, all contribute to a reduction in traffic deaths and serious injuries.

Lastly, but not the least, become involved. The Rockville Bicycle Advisory Committee or RBAC, and the recently formed Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee welcome new members and want to hear from residents. I, too, joined the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee to become a part of the solution.

Further details on how to address safety are found in the response to question number six.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

Why are homes unaffordable in Rockville so that those who wish to rent or purchase in the City are not ‘house burdened’ with more than 30% of their family income needed for housing? Families with and without children move here for the diversity, high caliber Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), and proximity to transit and major highway arterials. Property values are relatively high, translating into high property taxes and rents.

What Rockville currently does:

Rockville has several tools to encourage moderate income families to locate here, including the Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit (MPDU) program. With 660 rental and 440 home ownership designated units, this is one strategy. During this term, the Mayor and Council expanded the minimum income requirements for MPDU purchasers to 120% of the Average Median Income or AMI versus the 60% which had been in place and was simply too low to be affordable for purchase. Thus, more families with higher incomes may afford homeownership as MPDU designated units for purchase are available.

In addition, the City has a voluntary rent calculation program.

Changes we need:

Consider a change to the MPDU program to generate more affordable homes by triggering the MPDU requirement for developments of 20 or 30 units instead of the current threshold of 50 units.

One government program to assist homebuyers is to adopt a first time homebuyer tax credit on the city portion of the property tax, similar to what the District of Columbia and other cities have adopted as one of the many tools to help with making home ownership more affordable.

Revise zoning to allow for duplexes, triplexes, and quads.

Encourage and incentivize builders to construct smaller, starter homes up to 1,000 square feet, with less high cost finishes and greater density. Encourage homes across the income spectrum in all parts of the City. This will take city collaboration with developers.

So-called up-zoning to permit greater density and increased heights is touted as the cure for generating more affordable housing. However, as pointed out in Seattle, New York City and other places, the up-zoning increased the housing supply but did not lead to affordable housing, and did not drive rents downward. In fact, there were more rentals and owner occupied housing, but at increased prices, and affordability was nowhere to be seen!

In conclusion, there is a role for government programs and incentives, but unless there is developer buy-in to affordable housing, it will not be built and market forces may not drive down prices.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

There are many transportation options across Rockville, but whether they successfully meet your needs depends on where you live in the city and where you are travelling…to work, to school, to the grocery store, to one of our community centers or the Senior Center. It also depends on when you want to travel, during rush hour, or during weekend days/evenings, when bus and transit intervals are longer. Rockville is fortunate to have two Metro stations within our boundaries, and two, Shady Grove and White Flint, just outside our borders, for north/south travel.

Transportation includes rail and bus rapid transit, single occupancy vehicles, carpools, Uber/Lyft ridesharing, bicycling, walking, scooters. Transportation programs for those with disabilities include Metro Access, subsidized Call N Ride, County pilot called Flex Ride program, and senior transportation. Students may partake of the Kids Ride Free program.

Transportation options also mean advocating for a multi-modal approach, reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles on the roads, including a ‘public benefit’ of a shuttle service in Planned Developments, and setting targets for carbon emission reduction. Involve residents and businesses and prioritize low cost, low effort tasks to reduce traffic congestion.

What is missing, is neighborhood connectivity so that an elderly resident without a car in a suburban neighborhood may age in place without feeling dependent on family and friends to get to a doctor, pick up a prescription or play a game of bridge at the neighborhood community center. To fulfill these needs, the current evolution of the ‘Villages’ in Twinbrook, in King Farm, in the West End and other neighborhoods, is a huge step in the right direction.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances, first adopted in Montgomery County in 1973 and in Rockville in 2003, originated as a recognition that new development was outpacing the availability of infrastructure to support the growth. Originally applicable City standards (APFS) pertained to water supply, sewer service, transportation, school capacity, and fire and emergency services. The current City APFO is modeled after the County Council’s Subdivision Staging Policy (SSP) adopted in November 2016, which changed the methodology to calculate public schools capacity, traffic and transportation. Who would want development approvals only to discover that there is inadequate water supply and sewer services? APFS has assured the infrastructure is in place. In terms of schools, while not working perfectly, I would not eliminate the APFS nor increase the school enrollment cap to anything above 120%. This means that the individual school is already 20% over capacity in terms of high school labs, STEM classrooms, playing fields, school classrooms and increased dependence on portables. Simply stated, an educational experience in portables is not appropriate for most students. Educational research shows that early childhood education investments in smaller classroom size reaps significant outcomes in terms of school achievement and graduation rates.

The County and City’s policies are confusing, especially when large new developments cross municipal and county boundaries and MCPS boundary clusters. Understanding that the County’s SSP is under its mandated every four year review and a County Council policy must be adopted by 11/15/20, the City should not undertake any revisions of its policies pertaining to school capacity until after there is full understanding of the County’s changes. It is anticipated that the County SSP will focus on how the policies address school overcrowding.

Clearly, changes need to be made at both the County and City to better coordinate the information sharing of approved projects and pending approval projects with MCPS and Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) to overcome the silos with regard to enrollment projections.

Neighborhood turnover rates are currently not factored into school growth projections and as we have seen, many neighborhoods are experiencing generational turnover and new families are moving into older developments. Anecdotally, professional staff have opined that Moderately Priced Dwelling Units appear to generate more students than market based units – this, too, should be investigated determine if projection rates should be revised.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

Economic development includes so-called Smart Growth multi-family developments that are near transit, walkable, pedestrian and bicycle friendly, with ground level and/or anchor retail establishments. As part of the Development Review Process, conformance with the City’s Master and Neighborhood

Plans, Zoning Ordinance, Recreation and Parks PROS Plan, Forest Conservation, Water and Sewer requirements and Comprehensive Transportation Plan are required. These guiding documents, plus the review and recommendations by the Planning Commission, and if appropriate, by the Mayor and Council, provide guidance. In addition, pre-application community meetings, meetings with neighborhoods affected by a proposed development and a public hearing provide input during the process.

Economic development goes beyond large-scale housing development to smaller in-fill properties. It also includes corporate development, incubators, and support for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Our City incorporates environmental sustainability through the following efforts (as shared by our City Manager):

Municipal efforts:

The Swim and Fitness Center locker room renovation includes LED lighting and low flow fixtures and is pre-approved for a Pepco $1,028 energy efficiency rebate.

Completed LED exterior lighting retrofit at Lincoln Park Community Center (exterior building lights and parking lot lights) with an MEA grant and Pepco rebates.

As part of Pepco’s Small Business Incentive Program, received free quick energy checkups at the Croydon Creek Nature Center, Rec Services Building and Elwood Smith Center.

Issued an IFB for utility consulting services to audit and track municipal electricity (112) and natural gas (27) utility accounts. Awarded contract to Eric Ryan Corporation. The contractor now enters monthly utility data for all accounts into the online EnergyCap software and uploads facility accounts directly into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

The Water Treatment Plant electrical upgrade and renovation capital improvement project included an energy audit for renovated spaces and a design that includes LED lighting and HVAC upgrades.

Partnering with Maryland Energy Administration for technical assistance to evaluate LED streetlight retrofit and financing options for approximately 6,000 city and utility owned lights.

Awarded contracts to lock into cheaper natural gas and electricity supply rates for bills issued after June 2020. The estimated annual savings for cheaper natural gas supply is $13,167/year. The estimated annual savings for cheaper electricity supply is $53,468/year; plus avoiding a cost increase of $42,456/year.

Joined the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program as a partner in May 2019.

Continue to work with the Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group to purchase wind Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for 100% of municipal electricity use (facilities, street lights, water and sewer utilities).

Facilities replaced 8 rooftop HVAC units at the Senior Center.

Community initiatives include (as shared by our City Manager):

Coordinated with the non-profit Solar United Neighbors (SUN) and other jurisdictions to host a third Montgomery County Solar Co-op. 43 people attended Rockville’s May 7th information session. After the co-op closes on September 6th, SUN will provide a status report.

Rockville Community Services and Environmental Management are coordinating with the non-profit Blockchain Frontiers Foundation (BFF) to market free energy audits and weatherization services for low-to-moderate income homeowners. This is funded by a $365,500 Maryland Energy Administration grant to BFF.

Working with Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and various energy organizations to host a Home Energy Roadshow at Lincoln Park Community Center on September 28. Planned attendees include Montgomery County DEP, Rife Lighting Contractor, Montgomery County Health and Human Services, Housing and Community Affairs (Habitat for Humanity), Pepco and their quick home energy checkup contractor, Solar United Neighbors, BlockChain Frontiers Foundation, and the City’s electric vehicle.

Provided stakeholder input to Montgomery County for the launch of the new Energy Coach online platform in the fall of 2019. The program will help residents learn about energy savings opportunities and access energy services/incentives.

Planning and Development Services is updating the building codes to include 2018 International Energy Conservation Code and 2015 International Green Construction Code.

Working with Pepco to install public electric vehicle charging stations at Thomas Farm Community Center (1-Fast charger and 2-level 2 chargers).

Working with the local chapter of the US Green Building Council (USGBC-NCR) to host a Building Commissioning Training on September 24th at Thomas Farm Community Center that is open to private and public sector professionals.

Coordinating with the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments (COG) and Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection to research options, feasibility and costs of a public EV education and marketing campaign. Evaluating potential procurement and funding challenges.

Provided support to Montgomery County DEP and USGBC-NCR for Montgomery County’s annual Energy Summit in April of 2019.

Entered into a MOU with COG for climate action planning support services to provide technical assistance to support the development of the City’s climate action plan. Over the next year, the City will work with COG, Montgomery County, Takoma Park and other regional jurisdictions to develop regional climate action education and outreach campaign materials to aid jurisdictions with climate action planning public engagement.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

Implementation of the City’s Vision Zero plan must incorporate a city-wide approach with all stakeholders. To ‘know’ if we are successful, measureable outcomes for action items should be included. Strategies include the appointment of a Vision Zero Coordinator; development of a ten year action plan; education and outreach to seniors, school age children, person with disabilities as populations most at risk for severe collisions; expansion of the Safe Routes to School programming; bicycle safe riding training; engineering improvements advancing city road design standards; safety improvements to trail crossings and intersections; improvements to traffic signals; accelerate sidewalk construction; development and completion of a Pedestrian Master Plan; increased enforcement of drivers as well as violators of pedestrian and bicycle safety laws; and expansion of automated enforcement to address speeding, red light violations and stopped school bus violations.

Collaboration and partnership with Montgomery County public Schools (MCPS), the County’s Department of Transportation and Police Department, the Maryland State Highway Administration, and WMATA is imperative to reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian crashes. The latest draft of the Vision Zero Action Plan underscores that the majority of bicycle and pedestrian crashes as well as the top intersections where these occurred are on State roads, namely 355 (Rockville Pike), 586 (Veirs Mill Road), and 28 (Norbeck road). Strategies include 1) a citywide crash study to review the causes for serious crashes, identify high injury networks and priority projects in collaboration with our partners; 2) a review of transit stops and identification of unsafe pedestrian and bicycle crossings and ways to correct unsafe areas with High Intensity Activated cross Walk Beacons or HAWK and Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons or PHBs; 3) jointly develop projects where the city, county and state work together to implement safety projects; 4) accelerate sidewalk construction projects in identified high injury intersections; and 5) expand the network of bikeway facilities on city, county and state roadways; andn6) expand the Safe Routes to School programs in collaboration with MCPS.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

The question of increasing the size of the City Council from four to six or some other number is important. However, one simply cannot raise this subject without simultaneously determining if other changes should be made, including whether there should be councilmanic districts or not: whether terms should be staggered to prevent a wholesale turnover of elected officials after an election; whether the Mayor should be separately elected or should be the candidate who receives the most votes, rather than occupying a separate position; whether the mayoral position should rotate during the four year term among all the electeds; and what changes are necessary to the duties and responsibilities of the mayor and the councilmembers. All these are important issues, and I believe that a Charter Review Commission should convene, study these issues, solicit resident input through town meetings across the city, and make recommendations to the Mayor and Council during the next four year term.

Involvement of residents runs the gamut from responding to constituent emails and neighborhood concerns, and meeting with them during the monthly Drop In sessions. My greatest feeling of accomplishment comes from working with many Rockville neighborhoods on issues of pedestrian/bicycle safety, pathway lighting needs, missing sidewalks, and school safety needs. While our dedicated professional staff respond to issues, they simply cannot see everything…they need resident eyes and ears to alert them to issues. Your concerns become my concerns.

Attending civic association and homeowner association meetings and annual neighborhood meetings increases my awareness of local of issues. Similarly, appointments to boards and commissions with the lens of demographic diversity enriches neighbors meeting neighbors and more fully engages those communities who may feel marginalized.

As a Council liaison to several boards and commissions, this is another avenue to meet more residents and work together to solve problems.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

To begin this response, understand that there are four basic structures for municipal government:

1) Commission; 2) Weak-Mayor; 3) Strong-Mayor; and 4) Council-Manager. Each has pros and cons. Under our Council-Manager form of governance, the City Manager is similar to a chief executive officer who runs a corporation and the mayor and council are the board of directors. The City Manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the City, and implements the policy directives and ordinances passed by the elected officials.

Conversations about changing the form of government often begin when residents believe the current structure and organization is not serving their best interests. However, in my opinion, it is not the form of government that is the current problem, but rather the underlying politics that has led to inertia. With an elected body that pledges to work collaboratively, come prepared to meetings, seek innovative solutions to complex issues, and treat each other with respect, this form of government works effectively, efficiently, and permits professional staff to manage daily affairs.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

I firmly believe in and support policies and practices in support of equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Among my accomplishments while serving as a Councilmember, I initiated the Minority, Female, Disabled (MFD) Procurement Program, so that the goods and services purchased by the City better reflect the diversity of our population. (See https://www.rockvillemd.gov/231/Procurement) Technical assistance to MFD vendors is provided, professional staff attend MFD procurement fairs, and annual reports incorporate outcomes for this program.

My leadership brought Project Search, a program dedicated to providing education and training to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through an innovative workforce and career development model that benefits the individual, to Rockville. Through my efforts, the City’s personnel complement includes two part-time dedicated positions for persons with disabilities.

Throughout my six years on the Council, I have led the charge for LGBTQ enhancements to policies and practices. Annually, the City participates in the Municipal Equality Index, and proudly, the City’s scores reach above ‘100’. Progress was made on an inclusive workforce; a youth bullying prevention policy for city services; and contractor and subcontractor non-discrimination ordinance. Hiring practices and procedures manuals include provisions against discrimination of all types listed.

In terms of immigration status, I fully embrace the Rockville City Police policies, procedures and practices that do not ask a person’s immigration status. I want our residents to reach out to our police and seek help, as necessary, not turn away from them for assistance. Community policing seeks to maximize relationships with all our diverse neighborhoods and residents so that people feel safe to shop, worship, play, and go about daily activities free from fear.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

Assuming that the $1 million is a one-time only award, I would propose the following to address the unmet needs of Rockville seniors, contribute to the revitalization of Town Center, and enhance the relationship between Montgomery College Rockville Campus students and our businesses:

Develop a plan to purchase or lease two 12-passenger neighborhood buses, one for additional senior transportation and one dedicated as a shuttle for students and faculty from the college to Town Center. This dedicated funding would be less than $1 million annually to acquire/lease the vehicles with the remainder in a dedicated reserve for the bus replacement/lease funds. A portion of the funds would provide seed money for certified drivers, bus maintenance and fuel. Eligibility criteria and outcome measures would be developed to assess its usefulness.


Richard Gottfried

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: RICHARD GOTTFRIED, TCA PAST PRESIDENT and 12-YEAR TCA BOARD MEMBER AS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OUTREACH CHAIR AND TREASURER.

Neighborhood of Residence: TWINBROOK

Office Seeking: COUNCIL

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

The number-one challenge facing Rockville today is located in the City’s budget, where our business-type activities, which includes our funds for water, sewer, refuse, parking, stormwater management, amount to a NET DEFICIT in the amount of $11.6 million. However, the City shows a NET SURPLUS of $7 million corresponding to the City’s property and income taxes collected from taxpayers in the amount of $18.7 million. Hence, the City’s dilemma. The City would need to raise property taxes in order to cover increasing deficits in our business-type activities caused by increased development. Rockville residents may be questioning: How can there be a budget deficit when every year the City raises these business-type activities fees, i.e., water (an increase of 4.9%), sewer (an increase of 9.7%) and stormwater management fees (an increase of 3.4%). Therefore, my question to Rockville residents is, Why are we not in a budget surplus for these business-type activities? My response to this question is: If elected, I will advocate for research with regard to which parties are not paying for these essential services that the City is providing. If we do not identify these parties, Rockville residents will incur increased fees year-after-year for these services.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

Rockville plays an important role with regard to addressing affordable housing, and Rockville does this very well through the City’s Rockville Housing Enterprise, which offers several options for affordable housing in the city. The Rockville Housing Enterprise:

Owns and operates 105 Public Housing units.

Administers 414 units in its Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program.

Owns and operates 56 units of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) in the King Farm and Fallsgrove neighborhoods

Owns and operates 4 other affordable housing units in King Farm and Fallsgrove neighborhoods

Owns 236 units at Fireside Park, of which 118 units are affordable.

Rockville already utilizes the Housing Trust funds as a source of offering affordable housing units. The biggest incentive that developers had in their tool chest was the 20% rehabilitation tax credit for building affordable housing buildings; however, this credit was eliminated under the new Tax Act of 2018.

Due to the elimination of this tax credit, I will be advocating for the City to utilize the new Opportunity Zone legislation under the new Tax Act of 2018 so that developers can utilize this new law to invest in new affordable housing buildings.

If elected, I will introduce legislation requiring an additional type of affordable housing currently trending on the West Coast for young adults and seniors known as “dormitory-style units.”

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

The Transportation options currently available in Rockville are limited.

Do we have enough options?

No, we need more options.

I would advocate for increased use of the MARC trains with additional trains running during the rush-hour commute times. I would research the bus schedules and ridership usage statistics and suggest reorganizing the bus routes that are not at full capacity so that they become near to or at full capacity. I would advocate for more transportation services oriented toward the senior population to service their unique needs.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

YES, I do!

The question is not whether the APFO is working, it is! The problem is that our current Mayor and Council continue to ignoring the APFO standards corresponding to infrastructure (such as water, sewer, stormwater management, schools and traffic) by granting waivers or exemptions to the APFO standards for developers.

This is why Rockville residents have and will continue to have more traffic, why our infrastructure costs for water, sewer, and stormwater management continue to show a budget deficit in the amount of $11.6 million despite annual increases in fees to residents, and why are schools continue to be overcrowded.

Maintain school capacity at 120%.

Research which parties are not paying for their fair share of costs for water, sewer and stormwater management.

I will be advocating to create a sustainable plan for the increased traffic and increase in infrastructure costs to support our growth over the next 5, 10 and 15-year period.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

I will be advocating for a long-range plan to require all City of Rockville buildings to have solar panels and for our police cars to be electric or hybrid. Also, I will be advocating to increase in electric car charging stations.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

I will be advocating for a Pedestrian Master Plan and a Sightline Master Plan. These plans would try to increase the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and scooters. I will also be advocating for timing of the City’s traffic lights and crosswalks to facilitate better traffic flow.

Having recently run for Montgomery County Council At-Large in 2018, I have developed relationships and partnerships with our County Executive and Council members as well as our state legislators representing in all districts in Montgomery County, not just District 17.

When the County proposed to build an unnecessary multimillion-dollar office building adjacent to Broome Middle School, I led the Twinbrook Parkway Collation in partnership with other Rockville Twinbrook neighbors to stop this County office building from being built, which saved the Rockville taxpayers over $14 million. I accomplished this goal by partnering with other civic leaders and with four of the County Council members.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

YES, I do!

District council members may be necessary to better represent our distinct neighborhoods in the City of Rockville as the City grows.

I already have 12 years of experience involving residents from all neighborhoods of Rockville in the decision-making process:

As Past President of the TCA, I re-gained the trust and re-established relationships that were severed in previous years by the Twinbrook and Meadow Hall Elementary schools PTA’s, the Twinbrook Pool, Richard Montgomery High School PTA and the Twinbrook Library.

Regarding zoning ordinances, I re-wrote the zoning ordinance for home-based businesses and formed the Home-Based Action Team, an advocacy group for home-based businesses.

Advocated for neighborhood input regarding the long-range Twinbrook Neighborhood Plan

As a past president of the TCA, I collaborated with other civic leaders, on a quarterly basis, who represented neighborhood associations in the West End, Lincoln Park, East Rockville, Hungerford, Montrose communities.

I worked with different civic groups that formed the Twinbrook Parkway Collation in order to prevent the County from building an unnecessary $14-million office building from being built for only 20 County employees, when approximately 15% of the County’s office space was vacant and could reasonably accommodate these 20 additional employees.

I partnered with “CCARD” in order to stop the Bus Depot located in the Shady Grove Metro station being moved to Carver Education Center, Lincoln Park Neighborhood and to Avery Road. I partnered with the following neighborhoods, such as, Aspen Hill Civic Association, Norbeck Road Association, Manor Lake Association, Flower Valley Association, etc.

I worked with the senior community that are on a fixed income to help them save money on their real estate tax bill by presenting a seminar on How to qualify for the homeowner property tax credit and senior tax credit. I also started the conversation on Twinbrook having a Twinbrook Village.

Finally, I am an advocate for inclusivity in the decision-making process. This means soliciting input from all Rockville residents.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

Currently, YES, I am. The Mayor and Council are part-time positions, which allow council members to hold full-time jobs. With the size of our City it makes sense that Rockville has a City Manager who carries out the day-to-day administrative operations.

The City of Rockville could considered implementing alternative forms of government such as the Mayor-Council form of government as described in the National League of Cities.

Characteristics include:

Mayor is elected separately from the council, is often full-time and paid, with significant administrative and budgetary authority

Depending on the municipal charter, the mayor could have weak or strong powers

Council is elected and maintains legislative powers

Some cities appoint a professional manager who maintains limited administrative authority

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

YES, I do support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

I support Rockville’s decision on the Fostering Community Trust ordinance and

I support the Diversity and inclusion initiative by the City of Rockville.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

Fund more senior services.

Fund more care-givers.

Create a sustainable plan for the increase in traffic.

Research ways to reduce our deficit for the business-type activities such as our water, sewer, and parking deficit in the amount of $11.6 million.

Create a Rockville Trolley.

James Hedrick

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: James Hedrick

Neighborhood of Residence: Twinbrook

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

While I am focused on multiple important issues in this campaign, I think the top challenge facing Rockville is job creation. Many residents, like myself, commute an hour or more to a job in D.C. or Virginia. We can and should do more to encourage job creation right here in Rockville. Rockville has many of the important inputs businesses and other organizations want, including skilled and educated residents, educational opportunities, and transportation infrastructure. What’s missing are places for businesses to locate and the support to allow local small businesses to grow. We can do more with REDI to support local businesses and new entrepreneurs through grants and loans, and we can also allow commercial spaces built in the 60’s and 70’s to turn over so they’re attractive to modern businesses. Lastly, we can do more to partner with existing companies, non-profits, and the federal government to make Rockville an attractive place to locate offices.

Not only will this create jobs for Rockville residents, commercial taxes will benefit our city, helping to control property taxes for homeowners and hopefully allowing us to complete long overdue infrastructure projects, like fixing our roads and making them safer for pedestrians and vehicles.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

I absolutely believe the City government has a role to play in addressing housing affordability issues, and I don’t think the city has done enough. I serve as the Vice-Chair on the board of Rockville Housing Enterprises – the City’s public housing authority – and I have over a decade of professional experience in the housing sector. There are several strategies the city government can pursue to improve housing affordability in Rockville.

First, a major contributor to the housing affordability crisis is a lack of housing supply. We need to allow housing to be built, especially near public transportation. Allowing the construction of housing will go a long way to improving housing affordability. Focusing the construction on transit-oriented development reduces the need car-based trips, which has both economic and environmental benefits.

For increasing the supply of specifically affordable housing, we should increase the requirements for inclusive zoning and moderately-priced dwelling units (MPDUs). This would include increasing the amount of MPDUs required in new developments, as well as requiring larger 3-to-4 bedrooms options to accommodate working families, a major gap in local affordable housing. Additionally, the city should adopt "net-gain" policies for new development, requiring not one-to-one, but one-to-more replacement of any affordable housing.

Additionally, I would like the city to become more active in purchasing naturally occurring affordable housing. For example, several years ago Rockville Housing Enterprises (RHE) purchased Fireside Apartments, using low- income housing tax credits. This preserved 234 affordable units, with half being operated as subsidized housing and half as "market rate". Since RHE is a mission-based public housing authority, the "market rate" units are not priced significantly above the affordable units. Broadening this approach would ensure the long-term operation and stability of affordable housing in our communities.

Finally, I have spoken personally and publicly about the need for more affordable housing in Rockville, both when the subject of the Twinbrook Quarter development came before the city council and in my multiple interviews for the city council vacancy left by Councilmember Palakovich-Carr earlier this year. In addition, I have supported the county-wide legislation in favor of lessening the restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), which will produce more affordable rental units. Addressing housing affordability issues allows new residents to join our community, all of whom will pay property taxes to the city, shop at local businesses, and create more jobs in the area for both new and existing residents. No policy is a silver bullet, but by adopting a broad-based approach, we can support housing affordability for current and future residents in our community.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

Mass transit and public transportation are key to the future prosperity of Rockville and our surrounding communities. Thousands of Rockville residents, just like me, depend on Metro, MARC, buses, and other transit options for their daily commute. And we can do even more, particularly to improve public transit options outside of peak commuting hours.

For transit, we must address two concerns. First, we need to continue to improve our options to make transit consistently cheaper and easier than driving. This includes recent improvements to Metro like eliminating the turnback of trains before they reached Rockville. That small change has significantly improved ridership on Metro. But we must also improve transit options within Montgomery County and Rockville. This includes options like the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which would allow people to move and commute quickly within Montgomery County. Also, as a consultant, I was involved in the Houston bus re-route plan that significantly improved their ridership; we should encourage a full-review of the bus system in Montgomery County and Rockville.

Secondly, we need to improve transportation options within our city, and make day-to-day getting around without a car easier. And safer! Both Rockville and Montgomery County have seen too many pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries. We need to fully implement Vision Zero. We need to improve bike paths, sidewalks, and pedestrian access so alternative means of transportation are less dangerous and more welcoming.

Additionally, we must also be skeptical of “solutions” that waste precious transportation resources. The widening of I-270 just doesn’t make sense, particularly when large scale transit options would be much more efficient and effective at reducing congestion. We should advocate for more transportation dollars – both state and local – to go toward transit and alternative transportation improvements.

Finally, as we did with Twinbrook Quarter, Rockville should focus any new development on transit-oriented projects close to Metro stations, to minimize the need for personal vehicles for commutes, errands, and other daily tasks. We should require that new developments include accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists as well, so our community has all the transportation options it needs to thrive.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

I have a kindergartner and a two-year old, so I have a vested interest in the quality of Rockville schools. Our schools must have the money and the capacity they need to educate the next generation of Rockville’s children. And I have a hard time agreeing that the APFO is working as intended when moratoriums and potential moratoriums threaten to cut Rockville and Montgomery County off from the commercial taxes and impact fees we need to build new schools and invest in other public infrastructure. Without the taxes and fees from commercial construction like the recent Twinbrook Quarter, the city and the school system will not have the revenue we need to build schools or repair infrastructure, like Twinbrook’s storm water management system or local streets.

First, we need more consistent advocacy with the County and MCPS. Rockville’s school clusters are dealing with substantial capacity issues while other schools within the county are under capacity. We need to be involved early and often advocating for our schools, not just when there is an emergency situation like occurred with Twinbrook Quarter. I believe we should create an Education Commission to consistently advocate for Rockville schools with the county and state, not solely rely on individual PTAs to fill this important role. Just because we don’t control the school budget directly, that doesn’t mean that the City Council can’t be more vocal advocating for increased funding.

Secondly, we have to be involved in the upcoming boundary study. Many local jurisdictions periodically reevaluate school boundaries as a matter of course, and school boundaries should strive to best serve the population they are meant to help, our kids. However, we all also understand the benefits associated with maintaining neighborhood schools. Rockville needs to get directly involved with the boundary study process early, both to address local school capacity issues and also to ensure that Rockville’s schools and students are given the attention they deserve.

Finally, I believe the underlying issue is one of capital. Gathering together the tens of millions of dollars needed to build and expand schools quickly is difficult. Especially when the state government withholds and delays needed capital funds. We should consider and study the possibility of establishing a public bank to help finance large scale investments like school construction and public works improvements.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

First, economic development and sustainability are not opposing goals. The future of economic development - of jobs and opportunity – depends on clean energy sources and sustainable businesses. Without environmental sustainability, true sustainable economic growth is difficult or impossible.

Secondly, economic development must not just acknowledge sustainability. Environmental sustainability must be a central component of economic development. Environmental preservation isn’t just an option; it’s the key to economic development in Rockville and throughout our region. Retaining green space attracts residents and businesses, as well as reducing storm water runoff, improving health, etc. Encouraging public transit attracts residents and businesses, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing traffic. Building near Metro and transit attracts residents and businesses while reducing the need for car-based trips. Transitioning Rockville to entirely renewable energy attracts residents and businesses while saving the city money.

Finally, specific economic development must come with sustainability requirements. Transit-based development is a good start, but we must also require greenspace and enhanced storm water management with new development. Bicycle and pedestrian concerns must be addressed and improvements incorporated into new developments, including the proposed bicycle and pedestrian crossings with the Twinbrook Quarter Project, which I will advocate for on the Council. This improves long-term environmental sustainability and economic development through projects that are built and designed for the long haul.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero?

Pedestrian and bicycle safety should be of the utmost importance to all of us. The number of deaths on our roads and in our crosswalks, particularly recently near Twinbrook, is unacceptable. There are several steps we can take as a city to make our roads safer for all of us including:

1. Partner with the county and state to get HAWK signals for crosswalks on streets with many pedestrian crossings.

2. Establish separate, protected bike lanes, not just sharrows.

3. Install new street lighting and better maintain current street lights, particularly in high-traffic areas.

4. Establish clear, well-marked, well-maintained pedestrian crossings throughout the city, paying particular attention to places where pedestrians often cross without a crosswalk, to get to bus stops or other landmarks.

5. Implement speed-calming design elements on neighborhood streets, particularly those used to “cut through”.

6. Consider making the Town Center Square a pedestrian-only public space.

Most of these approaches will require partnering with MDOT, either because of jurisdictional or financial reasons. We can do more to prioritize Rockville streets with the County as well, advocating for more attention and resources be dedicated to our streets and transportation infrastructure. This means treating MDOT and the County as partners to be consistently engaged.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

Absolutely. I believe the Council should be increased by at least two more members (six City Council members, plus the Mayor) and possibly four (eight City Council members, plus the Mayor). We have had the same number of City Council members since the 1880’s, when Rockville’s population was closer to 700 than 70,000. I would also consider adopting a ward-based or combination at-large/ward-based Council to ensure representation from all Rockville neighborhoods. For example, no member of the City Council currently lives east of MD 355 (Rockville Pike), which limits the current council’s linkage to a large part of their constituency.

As part of my campaign, I have walked every neighborhood in Rockville and knocked over 5,300 doors throughout the city, from Twinbrook to King Farm to Potomac Woods to Lincoln Park. Outreach is an important part of involving everyone in the democratic process. You can’t and shouldn’t wait for people to come to you. Talking directly with residents gives you a better, more concrete understanding of their issues and concerns. They can show you the potholes; you can watch the cars speed by. If I am elected, I will continue canvassing every neighborhood in the city, knocking on doors to talk to residents directly at least monthly.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

Yes, I believe the Council-Manager form of government is appropriate for Rockville. The Mayor and City Council set policy, hire the appropriate people, and conduct oversight, much like a business’s board of directors. In my opinion, our primary issues with the city government are representation and deadlocks between members of the City Council, neither of which would be solved by changing the form of government. Changing the form of government would not have allowed the Council to fill the vacancy left by Councilmember Palakovich-Carr. However, both deadlock and representation issues would be addressed by increasing the size of Rockville’s City Council. I believe expanding the Council is the better reform.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I love this question, I thought about it a lot, and I wish I had a more glamorous answer. However, here it goes. First, repave Baltimore Road and Grandin Avenue (and take other requests for repaving abysmal streets from each neighborhood). One of the first things that got me involved in my local issues and the Twinbrook Community Association was the deplorable state of Baltimore Road - where I drive to work every day - and Grandin Avenue - where I drop my kids off at preschool. Both those roads look like someone took a jackhammer to them…though on the plus side, my kids have loved watching the City try to patch Grandin over and over from their preschool playground.

In that time, the City has spent millions of dollars on other discretionary projects but has not managed to finish fixing streets in Twinbrook (or really throughout the east side of Rockville). Fixing that neglect would be my first step. Then, with the rest of my money I would add painted crosswalks and signs to well-traveled, "unofficial" pedestrian crossings and improve bus shelters to make waiting for the bus safer and more comfortable.



Kuan Lee

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Twinbrook Community Association Municipal Candidate Questionnaire

Name: Kuan Lee

Neighborhood of Residence: King Farm

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

The broad spectrum of sensitivity towards growth and development amongst Rockville residents. At one end of the spectrum are those who prefer Rockville to remain rural-like. On the other end are those who prefer Rockville to become bigger city-like. Economic and population growth is a natural progression for a city like Rockville that is located near a major city – DC. With that said, I believe progress should always be gradual, and not immediate. That is why managed growth is important. It is about growing the city at a pace in which even the most sensitive-to-growth residents can accept. What is considered “gradual” is not determined by me or anyone on the City Council but rather by the residents of Rockville. In order to determine the amount of economic development the City can handle at a particular moment in time, Councilmembers must listen to the resident’s voices and concerns, understand the impact on City’s infrastructure from growth, and take consideration of all relevant factors the affects the community. The process takes time and effort, and it is not something that came be planned out by a few men.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

The City must work with developers and builders. Whether new housing is affordable is mostly determined by the builders cost along with the fair market value. More density or building more homes does not guarantee that housing will be more affordable. I think the City could revisit the criteria of the Moderate Priced Dwelling Units program to expand it so more can apply.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

We can improve the City’s alternative modes of transportation to encourage the use of public transit. I do believe the vast majority of single-family homeowners will still prefer to drive. However, millennials or retirees and seniors may welcome alternative, convenient public transportation to go from one place to another within Rockville.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

I believe the APFO is working as intended. It essentially mandates City Council, along with the City staff and any stakeholders, to evaluate the impact of new development projects on existing infrastructure such as schools and traffic safety. However, the Standards should be reviewed and updated periodically to take into consideration any natural transformations of the City.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

We need to maintain the balance of Rockville residential, commercial, and green space. We should explore alternative methods of public transportation for our residents such as a bus circulator, to reduce our carbon footprint. More convenient public transportation options could increase foot traffic in Town Center, which will improve City’s economic development.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

The City is moving in the right direct by establishing the Pedestrian Advocacy Committee (RPAC) as well as drafting the Vision Zero Action Plan. The Plan uses a different approach in analyzing traffic safety. City Council should empower the RPAC by facilitating discussions between the Committee and State and County representative.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

I support increasing the size of the City Council but more discussion and resident input is needed before determining the size of increase the structure of the Council. A taskforce that includes one or two representatives from all communities and neighborhoods within Rockville will generate ideas in which City Council will consider.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

I do not have specific experience or knowledge about other forms of city management to informatively comment on this topic. On the other hand, I will learn and listen to ideas about other forms of city government that the people of Rockville might recommend.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes, as the ninth most diverse city, equality is paramount in Rockville.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

$1 million is not much considering the City’s budget is about $138 million. Therefore, the money should not be used for major projects. However, the amount can go a long way for community and neighborhood groups. For example, the amount can be used as a grant or a low-interest loan to community groups in desperate need of money such as the Woodley Garden Pool group.

Charles Littlefield

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Charles Littlefield

Neighborhood of Residence: East Rockville

Office Seeking: Rockville City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

The number one challenge facing Rockville today is how to manage growth and development in a way that maintains our quality of life, and leaves no resident feeling excluded or at odds with their community. The way to address this is to have people on the city council and planning commission that are independent thinkers, not afraid to listen to both residents and developers, not afraid to keep an open mind, and not afraid to regulate development so that it produces balanced results respectful of our City’s wide range of opinions about the same. If elected, I would address this issue the way I have during my last seven years on the Rockville Planning Commission, by carefully applying the Smart Growth approach to development to the specific geography of Rockville. The main tenet of smart growth is ‘build where there is existing infrastructure in order to protect vast areas of wilderness.’ For Rockville, our existing infrastructure is the entire stretch of 355 from Twinbrook Parkway to Shady Grove, as well as the areas within walking distance of the Twinbrook and Rockville metro stations. Our new master plan and accompanying zoning laws should steer new development into these areas. Additionally, our annual budget should prioritize infrastructure in these areas and our City staff, officials and volunteers should spend as much of their working hours as they can at solving problems and maximizing quality of life there. Our vast areas of wilderness are our three golf courses and our existing City-owned park system. By the tenet of Smart Growth, we must conserve as much of these areas as we can, especially those farthest from existing infrastructure. Redgate Golf Course is a perfect example—it is an awful place to put more housing: it has no existing infrastructure, is beyond walking distance of stores and transit, and is accessed by one of the most narrow, winding roads (Avery) in our City. Trying to do anything there will sap our attention from the areas where we need to be most focused. Also, there are many in this City who value nature and want to maintain their right to access that land. Lastly, neighborhoods should have a direct say over their future development; nothing should be mandated upon them by people in other parts of the City.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

First, we should follow the federal government definition of affordable housing which is a household that pays 30 percent or less of its income on housing—this definition applies to both existing homeowners and renters, not just those lucky enough to buy a brand new home. Second, the City's affordable housing efforts should be directed at people who already live in Rockville (and have lived here the longest). If these residents needs are being met, then we should consider creating a work-reside program for employers (offset by incentives to build work-force housing) so that people already employed in Rockville are next in line to become residents here. We also need to realize that affordable housing is not just a problem of short supply: real wages in the US are only a fraction of what they use to be in the 1960s/70s. Setting a higher minimum wage is best left to the state or county, but the City can do its part by working harder to attract more, and higher-paying, businesses. Other effective things the City can do: consult with neighborhoods to find areas where zoning can be changed to allow more accessory housing, establish tiny homes communities on unused parking lots, create a public-private partnership between small-scale contractors and large developers to build the "missing middle,” and actively pursue the redevelopment of aging strip malls into small neighborhood-friendly village centers, with stores on the ground floor and 2-3 floors of apartments on top.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

Rockville is blessed with three metro stops and they are among our City's greatest assets. Compared to the metro, however, our public bus system is slower and less reliable. It is possible that a better bus system (e.g. BRT) could eventually be developed, but this is a project best left to the state or county to pursue. In terms of transportation options, the City should focus mainly on ways to increase the two most environmentally modes of transport, walking and biking. To promote walking, the City should improve pedestrian safety (see Question 6 below), consider walkability when drafting planning and zoning laws, and explore new ways to promote walkability as part of a work-reside policy or workforce housing project. With respect to biking, we need to invest in, insist on, and strategically locate safe, separated lanes for bikes, scooters and similar modes of transport. Considering the recent advent of ride-sharing and new technologies such as electric and self-driving cars, it is unclear whether private cars or public transit will become our main mode of future transport—we may even get a hybrid between the two. We should thus be cautious about permanently removing existing car lanes; instead, we should monitor what other cities are doing to better accommodate these new trends and reduce the impact that cars have on the environment.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

This question—by asking if the APFO is “working” or not—seems specifically directed at the ordinance’s school standard, rather than water, sewer or transportation capacity. Real estate developers have long hated the APFO and have consistently gone out of their way to propagandize the issue by exaggerating and misrepresenting the facts. Their efforts have been directed at converting residents into their spokespeople, since they know that the public expects them to be naturally biased against it. Top 10 things to clarify about the APFO: 1) it is not intended to reduce school overcrowding, only new schools can solve that problem; 2) it is intended to more efficiently allocate new development to areas with available school capacity, while slowing down development in overcrowded areas, so that the school construction cycle can catch up; 3) APFOs are common across America and the State of Maryland, and not some strange thing we invented here in Rockville; 4) other highly rated Maryland cities with APFOs set their threshold at 80%-90% school capacity, which occurs before schools become overcrowded; Rockville’s threshold is 120%, which occurs after a school is overcrowded; 6) our APFO doesn’t stall development in the Rockville Town Center as all pending developments in that area were grandfathered in when the law was passed; 7) when an area goes into moratorium, it only applies to multi-family housing, across a limited area and for a limited time period, commercial and other types of development can still proceed; 8) the APFO’s exemption on senior housing benefits senior citizens—who live on a fixed income and are the most harmed by high housing prices—along with their Gen X and Millennial children that may eventually need to support them; 9) MCPS will neither reward nor punish Rockville because of its APFO, they will address capacity according to their own criteria; and 10) if we do feel a key development is being held up by our APFO, the best solution is not to weaken our ordinance but to create a waiver that would only apply for large developers willing to provide extra benefits to the City as part of their overall project.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

To maintain a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development first requires a mental and spiritual commitment to the notion that the two things are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, there are too few people willing to take this first step; they believe that balance is achieved by haggling over trade-offs. Most people like trees and nature, and enjoy the benefits of living in a "green" city, while also valuing jobs and a growing economy. One concrete example of a win-win solution for both economic development and environmental sustainability: make better use of trees. The City currently has no laws or incentives for deciduous trees (which require no new technology) to be planted on the south-facing sides of buildings, nor to even require that buildings oriented their walls, windows, etc. in a way that maximizes the heating-cooling benefits of passive solar. We could exempt developers from planting trees on north-facing areas if they were to agree to make better use of trees and passive solar on south-facing areas. The developer would add value to their project by lowering their customers utility bills, and without any additional tree requirement. This type of idea is how the environmental movement first began to first get traction with corporations, namely when companies realized that not only were they polluting but they were also losing money by not making the most efficient use of their industrial inputs. There are a lot of ideas like this; we just need to find them, test them, improve them, and make them part of how we simultaneously help business and the planet.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

Vision Zero was first presented to the planning commission during our initial review of transportation for the City's 2040 master plan. There was some uncertainty around its applicability here in Rockville and I believe I was the only commissioner that voted in favor of it. I voted that way not because of Vision Zero, but because I am committed to saving people's lives. Well before "Vision Zero" was even mentioned here, I repeated its basic tenet many times to developers, city staff and members of the public—namely, that no other issue, including the environment, education or the economy, should take precedence over issues of life and death. More precisely, government should not try to place a cost-benefit monetary value on a person's life. Protecting people requires capital investment, not just talk, and I worry that policy makers will spend more time tossing around this new catchy phrase, amongst themselves and with their state and county peers, rather than investing in effective solutions. For me an effective solution is one that actually reduces the risk of a fatality to zero, not just one that "envisions" it. What are some investments that would provide pedestrians a "zero-risk" way to cross the street? The answer: bridges and tunnels. My strategy would be to start working with the state and county—as well as with developers—to find a way to jointly fund such a safe crossing, for the thousands of pedestrians that live west of Rockville Pike and walk to the Twinbrook metro station as part of their daily commute. Both the Rockville and White Flint metro stations already have such crossings; it is not fair that the Twinbrook metro—where significant population growth is occurring and pedestrian accidents frequently occur—is left behind. Ideally this would be an architecturally pleasing Gateway bridge welcoming people to Rockville, but I'd be equally fine with a cheap ugly bridge, because—as I've said—nothing is more important than a person’s life.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

Yes, I support increasing the size of the City Council. Every ten years or so, our City appoints a group of citizens to review the City's charter and explore ways to improve it. I served on the last Charter Review Commission in 2012. Ultimately, only our recommendation to switch to four-year terms was passed into law, however, we also recommended increasing the number of councilmembers from four to six (thus seven members total, counting the mayor). I still support this recommendation as our city council is too small for a City of our size and diversity. Another idea we discussed was electing a council member for each of Rockville's ten voting wards. I am somewhat neutral on that idea, however, one idea we should consider is participatory budgeting, a concept popular in other countries but virtually non-existent in the US. Rockville, however, might be a good place to try. The idea, basically, is to give a small but meaningful amount of budget authority to the City's various boards and commissions, and civic associations. For example, if we allocated $25,000 to the Traffic & Transportation Commission, they would get to decide which traffic improvement to spend it on. Similarly, for say the Twinbrook Civic Association. This would decentralize the decision-making process, and involve more residents by allowing them to have more direct impact.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

I have not always been satisfied with our city-manager form of government; sometimes I believe that city staff have too much control over the flow of information, which can impair the ability of our mayor and council to have adequate oversight, as well as the planning commission's ability to objectively review and/or condition development approvals. It helps to hear from members of the public in such cases. I have also heard complaints from people about poor enforcement of city codes; I believe our city-manager form of government might be partly to blame, since mayor and council deal more with legislation and budget, than with enforcement. Nevertheless, I am not sure that the solution is to eliminate the city-manager form of government; a better option would be to increase the level of oversight by making the mayor and council full-time positions and/or having more councilmembers. Also, I have seen our city-manager system improve over the years, especially under our current city manager. Thus, I would not propose changing it at the current time.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes. One right that is currently not enjoyed by some residents, on the basis of immigration status, is the right to vote. Some cities, such as Takoma Park, allow non-citizens to vote in their city elections. The City should host an open discussion to see how Rockville voters feel about extending voting rights to our non-citizen residents. As for other types of discrimination: I stood up for minorities when I chaired the planning commission, including an orthodox Jewish synagogue near Montrose that city staff wanted to regulate far beyond that of other churches in our City, as well as a low-income housing area in East Rockville that was not properly informed of a nearby development project. Although Rockville is a progressive place, those in government need to be vigilant for instances of discrimination that may occur as part of our day-to-day government processes.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

If I could line up other entities to contribute or finance the remaining costs, I would use the money to build a bridge across Rockville Pike near the Twinbrook metro station. If I could only depend on that $1 million, I would use it to establish a public-private partnership to fund new ideas, new local businesses, or new types of development, such as workforce housing or the renovation of strip malls into village centers with ground-floor shops and 2-3 stories of apartments on top.


Donald Masters

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Donald Masters

Neighborhood of Residence: East Rockville (Harriett Park)

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

There is a myriad of issues facing the City of Rockville that need addressing and resolution. They all have an effect on the quality of life for residents, and vary based on the neighborhood in which one lives. We also have the difficulty of being a city within a county, and rely on the county for many services of which we have little to no control over. However, having lived in the area my whole life, I've seen a pattern play out in many counties in the DC area. That is the “build-baby-build” because we need the revenue and will be left behind if we don't approach – versus the slow-growth, smart-growth, or no-growth approach.

As it appears most of the last large parcels of land in the city were built out in the 1970's and 80's, there is next to nothing left on which to build. So what remains requires tear-down and build up, or build denser if we choose to increase the population of our city. Some candidates feel we must do this or be left behind because the community around us will continue to grow. as the DC area continues to draw residents from other parts of the country.

The question to us as a city and as individual neighborhoods is: What do we want our city to look and feel like? As each neighborhood is unique, do the neighborhoods want to remain different and have the right to make those decisions for change?

Having lived here for almost four years, I've found the neighborhoods significantly different and each is proud of their character. In Arlington where I moved from is somewhat transient, while I have found Rockville to be significantly stable, with residents having lived in the area for 20-50 years or their lifetime.

Therefore, I believe each neighborhood should, as much as possible, choose to mold their future using the following concepts as they relate to their neighborhood: 1) creation of more pedestrian and public transit that is easy and safe to use; 2) housing density around the Metro stations should be allowed to increase as long as it does not negatively claim existing homeowners (as happened in Arlington); 3) a reduction of large bus and truck traffic; 4) an increase in tree cover; 5) an appropriate increase in neighborhood park size that is walkable and not restricted only to new developments.

These are the decisions we all need to consider. I would appreciate all the ideas that others may have as it is not for me to have the answers for your neighborhood.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

The City has a reasonable range of housing options from mid to upper price ranges, however it is extremely difficult for many to purchase their first home. The question I have is: Can we create housing for purchase at a lower initial cost that will allow folks to build equity and feel part of the community? Currently, almost all “affordable” and other mid-rise high rise housing being built is rental. The philosophy of asking builders to include a percentage of lower priced apartments in their construction has not been shown to solve the affordability problem. The city must undertake a different approach if it remains dedicated to adding affordable housing to the overall housing stock of the city.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

As residents more and more walk or use personal equipment to travel to neighborhood shops and to work, we need to have safe and accessible paths. The city has not included these changes in how our society is now traveling into their recent changes to the master plans. In opposite form, they have removed the requirement for service roads in redevelopments, which could have been reworked for the benefit of these new forms of travel. I want to see dedicated paths for non automotive vehicles on our major roadways for safe travel of folks who wish to use alternative means of travel.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

The recent controversy over the effects of the APFO is something I found surprising as it relates to City governance and to our school aged children. The Montgomery County school system (MCPS) continues to be in the local and national press for issues that should have sensible solutions. My experience with the Arlington school system has provided me with a similar history of overcrowding and the lack of calculated planning for new school construction. Unfortunately, the governance structure of the county school system does not appear to me to give the city the control we need for a properly functioning set of local schools where our children spend 12 years of their lives. While I have not yet reached out to MCPS to get a better understanding of what leverage the city has in the decision making process, I fear we may have to push for more control over decisions that affect the education of our children.

Regarding the APFO, we need to understand that the City of Rockville is for the most part "built out", as there is little space left to build single family homes where most families with children live.

So does the APFO really affect the higher density redevelopment? I believe it does not. If one looks at who is living in the mid-rise and high-rise apartments that are being built and have been built, they are mostly younger folks, and some older folks, both without children. Typically, when people choose to have children they move into low-rise or single family housing. And since none of that is being built in the city, the effect on the APFO is nil.

The focus should really be on neighborhood school construction, as the increase in school age children is primarily due to empty-nesters selling their homes to younger folks with children.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

Any development or re-development must include modern standards for the environmental footprint, energy usage, sustainability, and re-use. Many of the other jurisdictions around us require such requirements in new construction. It is a benefit for the developer to use and market environmental and sustainable designs when offering the properties for lease. Environmental sustainability and economic development in this day and age work well together.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

It's my understanding that the pedestrian committee is working on an accessible paths policy, and there may be some visioning statements included in the 2040 plan. However that does not help us at the present time. Regarding the county's (and state's) Vision Zero proposals, I'm not familiar with any current policy changes or transportation implementations that are advancing Vision Zero for the city. I would like to see the issues which Twinbrook are having with the Viers Mill Road traffic resolved with the construction of an underpass, allowing the two shopping areas to be more accessible without one risking one's life crossing six lanes of traffic. The traffic light sequence at the intersection does not provide for safe passage to pedestrians, and could be resolved without any construction costs. Other high pedestrian areas need to be addressed with pedestrian walkways or significant changes to road grade crossings. The big problem in the city design is we have three main state roads that bisect the city (355, 28 and Viers Mill). These roads make it nearly impossible to have unified neighborhoods because of the volume of cross-town traffic that flows through our city and the restriction it creates in our ability to make changes without first having to request and get approval from the state transportation department.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

I do not have a view at this time, and would need to study the issue in more detail. I know that there was a resolution to increase the size of the Council a few years back that was defeated. Arlington, where I lived for 35 years, has a five member at-large board, with staggered election years. Fairfax County has a larger number of members of their board which is allocated to specific districts of the county.

Some questions that need to be asked: As the City has at-large council members, is that being effective for all the neighborhoods of the city? How have the residences of the council members been distributed across the city over time? Are the voting patterns of the neighborhoods, or lack thereof, affecting the votes cast for council seats? Would assigned districts create more entrenchment on issues, or would there be willingness to join forces for the benefit of the various neighborhoods based on the needs and good of each? Should council seats be assigned to specific neighborhoods, such that each has a stronger voice at the council? Should the council seats be staggered so the entire council is not up for election in the same year? Should the current elections be moved from off-years to years when other elections are taking place?

These are all valid questions for investigation, and merit further discussion. I am willing to listen to the ideas and concerns of those who have knowledge and opinions on the matter undertaken by this question.

I am very much of the belief that neighborhoods should have the ability to direct the future of their community as much as legally possible, and I will reach out to the individual communities on issues pertaining to them to hear all voices for the variety of concerns and ideas on each topic of concern.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

I am not well versed in the other forms of local governance. Having grown up in Northern Virginia, I am familiar with the local governing bodies, most of which are very similar, although going by different names (County Board, Board of Supervisors, City Council), all with a similar "Manager" form of government. The City of Alexandria has a slightly different form, with the Mayor having more of a decision making authority, and the District of Columbia has a Mayor that in many ways is autonomous and does not answer to the city council for most actions of the office.

If there is an interest and there are reasons why another form of governance may be appropriate, I would very much like to hear from residents who may be well versed in the concepts and implementations.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes. Not sure why this is even a question. Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges written by then Justice Kennedy, there should be no question that all citizens have the same rights and freedoms, without discrimination or fear of reprisal.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

A million dollars does not go far, but the question is a fair one. Determining who and what to benefit is the hard part of this question. So with my dedication to the environment and quality of life for residents, and the issue of what to do with Red Gate, I would initiate a multi-use educational center for students and adults on all aspects of our local ecosystem and how our daily lives affect the environment around us. Maintaining the land, trees, and walkways, while adding wildflower and forest groves, so that all city residents can find reasons to appreciate, use, and learn from the sanctuary that Red Gate is.

Brigitta Mullican

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Brigitta Mullican

Neighborhood of Residence: Twinbrook

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

Rockville’s biggest challenge is that it is becoming an expensive place to live. Our property tax rate is more than 10% higher than that of neighboring Gaithersburg. While this may be inconsequential to our more affluent residents, and many of our top policymakers, the increased cost of living in Rockville is challenging many average residents. As a city council member, I will be committed to keeping Rockville affordable and to delivering quality government services. I will work to bring Rockville’s property tax rate more in line with that of Gaithersburg and champion fiscal discipline so Rockville can grow and welcome new residents. My three decades as a budget officer for the US Department of Health and Human Services has prepared me well for this. I will keep a close eye on our city’s budget to ensure quality government services are delivered and at the same time see that our local tax dollars are spent reasonably and responsibly.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

Rockville must balance development and economic growth with its responsibility to provide affordable housing for Rockville’s less affluent residents and young families. I believe this balance can be achieved by doing two key things: First, the city government should work with developers to ensure that all new developments include some affordable housing units (continue the 15% MPD requirement). In some cases, it may be appropriate for the city to offer financial incentives contingent on the inclusion of affordable housing in the development. Second, the city government must provide assistance to families if they are displaced by new developments. While it is important that Rockville grows as a city, we must be careful not to displace our more vulnerable residents.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

Transportation is a regional problem and Rockville must work with the County and State on transportation projects because the city benefits from Federal transportation funds. The City already has requirements for traffic mitigation for each development project. I would not change that. It is good that the city’s transportation fund has been used to provide new sidewalks in the Twinbrook neighborhood. I believe that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) should increase the number of Metro cars on the Redline and increase frequency to and from our area, especially during peak hours.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

We must examine carefully where we can make the biggest impact on working with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and the County Council. We are challenged by the fact that Rockville’s SCHOOLS ARE COMPLETELY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MCPS. The APFO is stymied because it cannot effectively address the issues of school overcrowding. It cannot reduce overcapacity, address school construction, program student redistribution or school boundaries. I will advocate strongly for fair distribution and adequate capacity for Rockville schools.

The imposed moratorium prohibits residential construction if student overcrowding is over its capacity. The number of students will continue to increase and demographics change which the APFO cannot control.


The Threshold Moratorium model cannot reduce the growth of the student populations nor block the sale of used properties.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

I support Rockville’s Environment and Sustainability Goals. The City’s programs and activities to date have resulted in major progress toward transforming Rockville into an environmentally sensitive and sustainable community. However, much more can be done. Sustainability does not override all other important City goals or interests but should be viewed as equally important as other factors.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero?

I support the County’s and State’s Vision Zero. To reach the goal of zero severe and fatal collisions by 2030, the current Action Plan lays out specific activities with deadlines for implementation. All 41 action items are built around five key action areas: Engineering; Enforcement; Education and Training; Traffic Incident Management; and Law, Policy, and Advocacy. I will work diligently to implement these 41 action items.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

This is a matter of concern to me. In 2002 I testified on the Rockville Charter Review proposals to increase the size of the Rockville City Council. Resident participation is Rockville’s government is most important and I would work with the City Manager to increase focus and representation of all 10 Rockville areas identified by the county as Wards. I would consider requiring candidates for the city council to be identified by Ward. In this year’s City Council election with 15 candidates, there are two wards (6 and 8) without a “local” candidate.
In 2009 there were 69 neighborhood areas identified on the city map. Many of those associations are no longer active so there is basically no representation. Town Center has dominated the Council’s attention. It is time for a plan to revitalize the neighborhood associations and residents not represented.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

I am satisfied with the city-manager form of government. I am not satisfied with the Council’s often unclear directions to the city manager who is responsible for seeing that the city functions properly. Lack of clarity is evident to those who attend Council meetings. Policies have been ignored. If the city manager’s hands are tied because of Council disagreements, residents suffer from the lack of leadership and cooperation.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would follow former Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio’s emphasis for a Rockville Science Center and invest $1 million in the completion of a Science Center in Rockville. I would challenge others to also invest to make it a reality to benefit the education of our children and STEM programs.



David Myles, M.D.

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: David Myles

Neighborhood of Residence: Tower Oaks

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

Meeting the needs of a growing population is the central challenge facing Rockville today and moving forward. If, how and where to build new housing, roads and businesses will have a significant impact on all residents. Given the environmental challenges we all face because of human-induced climate change, proposals to address a growing city must be drafted in ways that are cognizant of this reality. The challenges include transportation, education and infrastructure. Transit-oriented development (e.g. the Twinbrook Quarter) is a way to meet the some of the needs of that growing population in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment, to the extent possible. I would be sure to work with our state and county partners (County Council and County School Board) to ensure that our schools and non-city roads (e.g. Rockville Pike, Veirs Mill, etc.) can adequately absorb any proposed growth.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

As a Navy veteran I also found it difficult to find suitable housing that I could use the VA home loan to purchase. Working families, young families, veterans, college graduates, teachers and seniors are all finding it challenging to afford to live here. One way to mitigate this would be to hold developers accountable for building the actual number of affordable housing units they are required to build (12.5-15%). I would also propose simplifying the process of applying for residency in such moderately priced units.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

With three metro stations, multiple bus routes and major roadways (Veirs Mill, Rockville Pike, 270) that are becoming increasingly congested, there is a great deal of potential. A primary focus should be placed on improving the safety and accessibility to non-motorized forms of transit. Protected ADA-compliant pedestrian crossings near/over major thoroughfares and dedicated bicycle lanes in/near such areas are two initiatives that will improve everybody’s ability to move through and within the city.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

That children in some of our local schools attend classes in portables (trailers) suggests that facilities are not adequate and, thus, the APFO may not be working as intended. I would propose working more closely with the County Council and County School Board to collaboratively determine what projected growth they are planning relative to any proposed development project. Our county partners could be invited in such discussions with the Mayor and City Council having the final say. In so doing, we will right-size development.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

I do not think that being good stewards of the environment has to come at the cost of economic development. With the climate crisis we are all now facing, the jobs of tomorrow (and today) will increasingly be in areas dealing with mitigating the impact of climate change while helping us shift from a fossil fuel-based economy. As a City Councilmember, I will help ensure that newly constructed office buildings meet the highest environmental efficiency standards while providing incentives for existing buildings to adopt such standards.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero?

This is related to my answer to a previous question regarding transportation. Having a pedestrian-centric view of transportion thoroughfares is beneficial to motorists and non-motorists alike. I would advocate for ensuring our visions for the future (e.g. masterplans) at the City and County levels are working toward that end. In so doing, I would learn from best practices in other jurisdictions and incorporate that knowledge in Rockville. For example I would advocate that all major intersections should have a “leading interval” delay whereby the walk signal comes on while all traffic lights are red thus giving pedestrians more time to cross and making them more visible to drivers. Rockville is geographically unique given the confluence of modes of transportation that transect multiple jurisdictions and states which may reveal novel ways to protect pedestrians that can be communicated to our County and State partners for implementation. Finally, I would ensure that the city is working with the County and State in the collection of data that can help inform us about those streets and intersections that are most problematic.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

I support increasing the number of City Councilmembers and implementing district representation (as opposed to at-large). This will help ensure that the voices of people throughout the city are better represented. I would also push to fill the vacancies on the Boards and Commissions in a timely manner. I have encountered several individuals who appear to be qualified, but have not been considered to fill the existing vacancies.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

As it is currently implemented here in Rockville, I have no concerns about the workings of the Mayor/Council and City manger. My initial misgivings were about the lack of accountability of the City manger to the people given that the manager was appointed by the Mayor/Council and not elected by the people.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would invest that money into building and/or purchasing more housing units to be occupied by people of modest financial means.


Matthew Perkins

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Matthew Perkins

Neighborhood of Residence: Twinbrook

Office Seeking: City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

I think the number one challenge faced by the city is also the greatest source of opportunity for the city – the tremendous growth experienced in the last 20 years and expected in the next 20.  At it’s worst, growth results in individual social isolation, stresses on infrastructure, lack of civic involvement and stresses on city services. At it’s best, the growth allows us to redefine Rockville as a model city, with a truly mixed transportation infrastructure, vibrant communities served by community-based amenities, including parks but also including neighborhood-based commercial enterprises (think about Carmen’s in Woodley Park) and a city government embracing technology rather than being overwhelmed.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

City government can be more flexible in zoning, to allow for duplexes and quad units, to allow for smaller residential structures, including Alternative Dwelling Units (ADU’s).  I support ADU’s, recognizing that some may take advantage, but confident that there are sufficient safeguards in place or tools which we can adopt, like code enforcement, landlord regulations, and parking restrictions, with which we can address these issues.  Redgate golf course can be re-purposed, with part of the land being used for housing – other uses including developed parkland, undeveloped parkland, and a portion set aside for future determination. As the owner of Redgate, the city can dictate to any buyer and developer the mix of housing to be built to assure mixed and affordable options.  The city can work with developers, including non-profit developers, to ensure a mix of housing types are included in any new housing developments.

What we cannot do is to keep confining the City’s population growth solely to apartments on Rockville Pike without proper community spaces and amenities.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

I feel we are well served by mass transit and there is certainly plenty of infrastructure for car travel.  My main priorities for transportation is to build out a much greater and more convenient bikeable and walkable infrastructure, including; separate biking lanes along main routes, such as Rockville Pike and Viers Mill Road, and traffic control measures.  Better amenities and infrastructure to support walking, including wider sidewalks, trees for shade, adequate but not overpowering lighting, traffic calming and crosswalks. Amenities such as multiple biking and walking bridges over metro and railroad tracks.  As well as a long-term commitment to a more comprehensive mass transit infrastructure, possibly including light rail.

Better biking and walking infrastructure supports several of my main priorities, including community building through more neighbor to neighbor interaction, green infrastructure and practices, preparing for population growth, and encouraging neighborhood-based commercial centers and small business.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended?  Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

It is clear that the APFO has NOT been sufficient to prevent school overcrowding, whether that is a problem with the writing of the Ordnance or estimates of population growth, I do not know.  City government needs to be much more active in finding solutions to the school overcrowding problem, which directly effects so many of our residents. Possible solutions include building facilities and renting them out to MCPS, partnering with MCPS to seek additional state, federal or foundation funding, or by changing the APFO, school crowding will be a high priority to me.

Schools are just part of a larger challenge, however, with Rockville’s population expected to go from 70,000 now to almost 100,000 in twenty years.  The City needs to plan and prepare now for this population growth, including transportation infrastructure, adequate parks, and community spaces along with schools.  I drive by new apartment buildings off Rockville Pike and see residents walking dogs in the couple square feet of grass devoted to ornamental trees or in the median between road and sidewalk, because there is no access to parks or green spaces.  We cannot treat our newest residents like they don’t deserve the amenities we expect.

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

I do not agree with the idea that sustainability and development are opposing goals.  Establishing environmentally-friendly infrastructure will generate jobs and economic activity, environmentally friendly housing is smaller and so allows for more density and more development in defined spaces, green spaces, like parks, encourage neighborhood-centered development which supports small business development and small businesses.  The city will prepare for the impacts of climate change, such as more frequent and severe weather events – by burying utility cables for example. Rockville also has the talented and technical workforce to take advantage of larger industrial approaches to environmental issues. The city can lead municipal responses to climate change, and what’s more, must be part of them.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

Vision Zero can only be successful if the city is willing to adopt policies that impact drivers and recognize walking, biking and mass transit use as legitimate and equal transportation choices.  To take the bus to town center, from my home on Midway, I must cross local access lanes, 4-lanes of traffic on Viers Mill Rd and a turning lane. There is no crosswalk or light within at least ¼ mile in either direction and a very small concrete median in the middle.  Cars routinely travel at over 50 mph which makes crossing to catch the bus, even in broad daylight, dangerous and uncomfortable. We need better infrastructure for bikers, pedestrians and transit riders, but we need more traffic calming like curb bump-outs, speed bumps and rumble strips, as well as adjusting traffic lights to provide more time for pedestrian-only crossing of intersections.  Vison Zero needs to be as much about changing infrastructure as about changing or modifying attitudes.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision-making process if you are elected? 

I have already called for an expansion of the City Council.  Instead of 4 seats, I would like to see a city council of six; 2 of whom are elected as at-large candidates so represent the citywide population, and 4 members representing 4 separate council districts.  This will prevent the council from being dominated by 2 or 3 neighborhoods. I also have called on my website (mattperkins4rockville.org) to open voting in city elections to all adult residents, regardless of citizenship.  There are legitimate reasons to restrict federal voting to citizens, but for local elections it is an unnecessary distinction.

Beyond the structure of voting and government, my first priority for the council is constituent service and increasing city outreach to bring ALL residents into decision-making and into moving the city forward.  I recognize this will take a tremendous amount of work, in reaching out individually and in changing city practices, such as developing an app and text notification services for residents to opt into. My life and career have been dedicated to inclusivity and collaboration, qualities I hope to bring to city government.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

I am satisfied with the city manager form of government, but for such a system to work best, all city residents must be represented in council and mayoral oversight.  This includes increasing the number of council members and ensuring that the voices of all residents are heard and represented. The alternative – for a city run by a mayor and council - will necessitate paying council members and the mayor more than the current part-time salary.  Running a city of 70,000 plus is a full-time job for multiple people. We should examine pay for council members and the mayor regardless; I am fortunate, with a graduate degree and a 25-year career, to have the flexibility and control over my work to be able to take-on a council member’s job, but that is unusual.  We have too many people, and disregard too many voices, with the demands and current compensation levels which discourages participation by younger candidates.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes, absolutely.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I work as a technical assistance provider on a federal program with grants that are $1 million, so I’m pretty familiar with how much that is, and how little it can buy if not used well. I think that my main priorities would be to use the funding for 3 purposes;

First, to train all city staff in methods for community outreach and to develop a city plan for continuous neighborhood-based outreach an collaboration, including an aggressive internship program for students from local high schools and Montgomery College.  The purpose is to establish a culture of resident led government and local action.

Second, would be to develop a comprehensive plan for an overhaul of city technical capacity including the development of performance indicators and data collection and analysis practices.  Also developing a city app for communication and to facilitate city services. This may be the most boring response ever but an efficient and data-driven government can better serve residents while being more responsive and helping achieve city goals of equitable outcomes for all residents.

Third, and last, I would develop, with substantial resident input, a detailed plan for an innovative and transformative overhaul of city transportation infrastructure within the next ten years.  Not just pictures to show an idyllic future, but a detailed plan with staging and schedules. I believe that major funders, not just the state and county, but the federal government and large foundations will be very interested in funding a comprehensive transportation overhaul that promotes environmental transportation practices, promotes health, and promotes a diverse commercial community.  Effort spent to develop such a plan could pay for itself many times over.


Mark Pierzchala

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Mark Pierzchala

Neighborhood of Residence: College Gardens

Office Seeking: Rockville City Council

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

Housing affordability is a problem for most households, and these are caused mainly by counterproductive City policies. 

For people new to the Rockville housing market, it has become too expensive for even mid-level income people to live here. A married couple where both are new teachers, cannot afford to buy a house in Rockville. The same is true for new police officers and firefighters. Our children, when they grow up to be young adults, will have difficulty in buying a house here. Similarly, we’re seeing apartment rents that are higher than what some people pay for mortgages if the latter homeowners were fortunate enough to buy early enough.

It has also become too expensive for retirees of lesser means to continue to live here.

The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, as it has been implemented in Rockville, contributes in great measure to the problem (see below). 

The biggest solution is to allow commercially provided housing to spring up much more easily near transit centers, especially in our Town Center and near Twinbrook Metro. We need a lot of new housing and it makes sense to put it near transit, and away from our traditional neighborhoods. 

There are some housing programs, such as Moderately Priced Dwelling Units, but these programs provide only for a small percentage of all homes. Their eligibility criteria screen out modestly prosperous people. They have to live elsewhere, but then commute to or through Rockville to jam our streets and highways.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

The City must recognize that there is too much housing demand for too little supply. Our laws and our processes discourage, and sometimes prohibit, housing development where it would do the most good. This would be near Metro and other transit centers. 

While Twinbrook Quarter was eventually approved on a 4-0 vote, it almost failed because of APFO restrictions. I led the effort to increase the school capacity limit for Champion Projects. But there was a lot of fearmongering and misinformation that led to much opposition. In fact, construction impact fees more than pay for themselves in such projects.

For developers, the City is a very uncertain place to do business. Under the best of circumstances, it takes years to get a major new project started. Some never try and they go elsewhere. The major developers have other places where they can do business. The people that are hurt by these development difficulties are our own children who can’t find affordable homes as well as those who serve us such as teachers, police, firefighters, and other public servants.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

In general, transportation options are decent. A recent study found only minor gaps in available transportation services. The Urban Land Institute recently suggested the possibility of a circulator between Montgomery College and Town Center. I’m willing to consider this, but there are already 30 or 40 buses each day between the 2 locations (Metro and Ride-On buses).

The things the City could do directly for transportation are limited. If we stop development here, e.g., because of road capacity issues, we force people away from transit and then we see them as commuters. The one thing the City should do is to encourage housing development as mixed use near transit in order to reduce the need for automobiles, and to put people to work closer to where they live.

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended?  Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

Some people intend the APFO to hinder all development. For them, the APFO is working as intended, except that they would want the law to be tighter.

The official intent of the APFO is to slow development until adequate infrastructure is provided. In this respect, the APFO is an utter failure. It has not solved any infrastructure problems for schools or for roads. Rather, it has reduced resources for school construction. Smart growth projects, like Twinbrook Quarter, pay for more school capacity than school children they generate. In these kinds of cases, the APFO is counterproductive.

The impact of the APFO, and the County’s sub-division staging policy, is to take one shortage, such as school capacity, and to create another shortage, that of housing.

The APFO pits current homeowners against those of lesser means, and we should not have to be making that kind of choice.

The solution for school capacity and transit issues is to work the problem at the County level, the major funder. 



  1. How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

Infill development, such as Twinbrook Quarter, suits both the environment and economic development. You take a bunch of asphalt, and you produce homes near jobs and transit. 

With such a smart growth development, you get:

  • More trees

  • Much better storm water management

    • Also helping to preserve trees downstream from the development 

  • Housing near transit and jobs

    • Reduction of sprawl

    • Reduction of auto emissions

    • Homes that take less energy

  • Better connectivity, and better biking and walking infrastructure.

  • Better open space and parks

  • Lively, pedestrian oriented streets, parks, and open spaces.

  • The developer makes money

  • People get homes

  • The City gets a higher tax base

  • The school system gets more school capacity through impact fees than school children generated from such a smart growth project. It also gets a higher property tax base to support school construction.

What’s the problem? In a City such as Rockville, where most development is infill development, and with existing City laws, most development results in far better environmental outcomes, while at the same time, resulting in a much better and sustainable economy.

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

Vision zero, an initiative of former Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr (also a former Team Rockville member), seeks to reduce or eliminate traffic deaths and injuries for those in the car as well as pedestrians and cyclists. 

I have once walked every street in the City, and I have biked every street 4 times. No one knows the City better than I as a pedestrian or cyclist. There are issues with (1) cars, (2) pedestrians and cyclists, and (3) infrastructure.

Cars: These pose the biggest problems. Speeding is rampant, and many drivers don’t stop at stop signs, or don’t stop before turning right on red. Another huge problem with drivers is that when they want to turn right, they look left (to see the oncoming traffic). Drivers know what they’re supposed to do, they just don’t do it. It’s not an education problem, it’s an I-don’t-care problem. Better enforcement is the answer. I fully support the continued use of speed and red-light cameras. These work where they are placed, and the video that they use, support the fines. We can have more police enforcement, but this is expensive and would tax our limited number of officers. Additionally, if an officer issues a ticket, any fine is paid to the state, not the City.

Pedestrians and cyclists: As one of the more active pedestrians and cyclists, it pains me to say that these people are also a problem. This is true with distracted walking (people watching their phones, not where they’re walking). Pedestrians also bolt across streets far from intersections. Madison Wisconsin has a law called ‘sudden pedestrian movement’. Pedestrians can get a ticket for suddenly bolting into traffic. The City was having issues with U of W students getting flattened by cars. Rockville can try a ‘sudden pedestrian movement’ law. Cyclists should obey traffic lights and stop signs. I do. It wouldn’t bother me at all if cyclists were given tickets for breaking these kinds of laws.

Infrastructure: Our City’s pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is not bad and it continues to improve. We have a number of initiatives in place such as ‘complete streets’ policies and laws. Our new bikeway master plan goes a long way towards providing adequate signage and routes through the City. I do have problems with walk signals that do not work. These are all over the place. I also have an issue with intersections where you can cross a street only on one side of the intersection.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision-making process if you are elected? 

I absolutely support Virginia Onley’s initiative to increase the size of the Council from 4 to 6. I would even go to a higher number.

To get across the City participation on the Council, I would consider making some of the Council seats to be districts, while some would continue to be City-wide.

With a population approaching almost 70,000, the cost and time it takes to run effectively can be daunting to new candidates. Running for a district seat would be a much easier entry onto the Council. Rockville is not a small town anymore.

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

The City Manager form of government is perfect for Rockville. In this form of government, the elected body sets the policy while the City Manager implements the policy. 

We have problems when elected officials try to be City Executives. This is against Rockville’s law, but some try anyway. This creates confusion and puts City employees on the spot.

In a policy-making role, the elected have all the power they need. The power of the budget and the power of land use decisions are awesome powers. 

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes, and I haven’t been shy about it.

Note that when our APFO hinders development, the people most hurt are the marginalized. Our infrastructure problems should be solved by the County providing infrastructure, not by denying commercially available homes for mid-level and lower incomes.

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

There are 2 projects in Town Center where $1M could be leveraged to great effect. First is towards extending Maryland Avenue in Town Center from Beall Avenue to Dawson Street, as part of Phase II development in Town Center. The second would be to move some Power lines away from Choice Hotels International, because they want them moved to the other side of 355 (or underground). We need to keep Choice in Rockville so we would view that as an investment. I would choose the first option.



Suzan Pitman

PDF of Completed Questionnaire

Name: Suzan Pitman

Neighborhood of Residence: East Rockville

Office Seeking: Council member

What do you identify as the number one challenge facing Rockville today and how do you propose to address it?

The most pressing question facing Rockville is how we will continue to grow. Will we allow unrestrained development, or will we actively engage in thoughtful, community-oriented development that enhances our quality of life and elevates our shared experiences. 

Projects that are currently accounted for will potentially bring as many as 8,000 new residences. That’s great! We need to also make sure that our open spaces and tree canopy are protected, walking and bicycling are safe and pleasant, that we are protecting our kids and their schools to the fullest extent, and our small local businesses have a home-court advantage. Density isn’t what makes Rockville an exceptional place to live. It’s our parks and public spaces, our excellent schools, vibrant neighborhoods, and the diversity that makes all of us proud that are the things that make people want to move here. We can’t lose sight of that in favor of simply adding density. 

That said, we have a great deal of opportunity on the Pike to add quality revitalization projects that focus on sustainable, environmentally responsible commercial activities and multimodal transportation that serves all residents, from our children to our seniors.

What is the role of City government in addressing housing affordability issues in Rockville and what would you do to encourage the production of more affordable homes for working families?

Recent research indicates that supply and demand is an important part of the affordable housing equation, but high-amenity, transit-oriented development doesn’t always come with enough affordable units to make much of an impact, and income inequality has a great deal to do with housing affordability. We need to consider additional financial tools like tax credits for businesses that provide housing subsidies for employees below a designated payband to help people who work here afford to live here.

It’s essential that the City work with REDI, the Chamber of Commerce, Rockville Housing Enterprises and those wishing to develop property within the city limits to address more affordable housing. I would like to see a better-defined “Champion Project” status that includes more MPDUs and housing that’s affordable to those just over the MPDU allowance in order to receive the benefits of Champion Project status. As the minimum wage rises, we need to carefully monitor housing costs to make sure they do not rise so much that they remain unattainable by wage earners.

Additionally, the City should do more to implement the recommendations of the 2016 housing study, especially the recommendations regarding the need to create more tailored housing options for Rockville’s growing senior population.

How do you feel about the transportation options currently available in our city? Do we have enough options? How would you mitigate those concerns or change the situation?

Our cultural and institutional approach to transportation needs a bigger push towards multi-modal. Improvements are on the horizon through the bicycle and future pedestrian master plans, but follow-through is critical. More options are needed and better movement through the city can be accomplished through a City-run circulator, strategic road diets that make way for better bike lanes and sidewalks, and by better connecting our neighborhoods to one another and to transportation, commercial, and recreation hubs with safer, more pleasant walking and bicycle paths. 

Do you believe Rockville’s APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance) is working as intended? Why or why not? What changes would you propose?

When the APFO forces the City to pause and have a conversation about who we are and who we want to be, it works. The conversation needs to come earlier in the process and should not be allowed to devolve into the ugly scene we all experienced last fall. In the end, the Mayor and Council found a way forward for the Twinbrook Quarter project, and the flexibility in the solution demonstrated that the APFO works.

We can’t forget the APFO governs more than just school capacity, and includes traffic and water and sewer requirements. We need to be careful that housing and commercial growth don’t outpace the growth of our infrastructure. 

To make the APFO work better, the City needs to work harder to get more input from a broader cross-section of the residents of our City. Currently, most of the input the City gets on these issues comes from individuals with the time to provide their opinions and who are familiar with City government. The City needs to host more frequent and better publicized in-person and online town halls that allow a larger group of residents to express their opinions on what they want Rockville to be. 

How do you plan on maintaining a balance between environmental sustainability and economic development?

The largest climate “offenders” are corporations, and the green standards in the new building codes the City is rolling out are a good start towards greater accountability for developers. We need to work with companies and property managers to retrofit their existing buildings with solar and wind power, to install roof-top gardens, and to otherwise do their part to improve the environment. 

It’s also essential that we protect our tree canopy and green spaces for our health and well-being, as well as for the climate. The newest iteration of our building codes takes away protections for large trees in some development scenarios and those need to be added back

How will you implement the City’s commitment to Vision Zero? What strategies will you use to effectively partner with the County and State to ensure that Vision Zero is a reality?

Effectively implementing Vision Zero will require an action plan grounded in equity. One of the first jobs of government is to keep its people safe, and without a commitment to Vision Zero and the safety of our residents we are failing to keep our compact with the people.

Because City, County, and State roads overlap and intersect, we need a designated staff member to coordinate implementation of our program with theirs. Moving the Rockville Pedestrian Advocacy Committee under the Traffic and Transportation Commission will also demonstrate the City’s commitment to walking as a legitimate form of transportation.

As Rockville’s population continues to grow and diversify, do you support increasing the size of the City Council to offer more opportunities for representation? How do you plan to involve residents from all corners of Rockville in the decision making process if you are elected?

City Council should grow and I will advocate for a Charter Review Commission to be convened at the beginning of 2020. At least two seats should be added, and a special election should be held in 2021 or 2022 to fill the new seats and to create a rotating election so not everyone is running for office at the same time. 

One thing Rockville does well is keep residents informed about fun events and programs, like the Farmers Market and recreation programs. True involvement in the democratic process, however, can be elusive. I will work with City staff and other members of Mayor and Council to take City Council meetings and Town Halls on specific issues to different locations around the City to make it easier for residents to attend in person at locations that are familiar and comfortable. 

Are you satisfied with Rockville’s city-manager form of government? If not, how would you propose changing it?

I am satisfied with this form of government, although as Rockville continues to grow, looking at different forms of municipal government should be on the table.

Do you support protecting equal rights for all individuals in Rockville, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, ethnic origin, disability, immigration status, sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes! I want to continue Rockville’s reputation as a warm and welcoming city where people from all walks of life want to live. By doing this, we ensure that we attract a diversity of quality residents to fill roles throughout the city staff, businesses, non-profit groups, and other government entities that call Rockville home. Having top quality residents will help move Rockville forward.   

If you received a $1 million grant to use for the city any way you wanted, what would you do with it and why?

I would use that money to pilot a participatory budget process in our neighborhoods the way New York has in theirs. We have a great city staff, but they don’t know our needs and aspirations the way residents do, and this form of economic democracy gives us the ability to meet our own needs in the priority order that we determine. 

https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/575161/participatory-budgeting/