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?
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.