As a city of 60,000 or more, Rockville still has a small-town feel with tree-lined streets and local businesses.
While many people find the city a desirable place to live, the evolution from small town to large suburb can be a recipe for tension. On top of that, the rules put in place to limit development have had unexpected consequences. City leaders are having a substantial debate over the next steps.
Next month, Rockville voters will cast ballots at a time when the city is at the cusp of changing its culture. Growth, and the city’s management of growth, have guided The Gazette’s endorsements. For that reason — and several others — we endorse the Team Rockville slate.
The city’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance and its Adequate Public Facilities Standards deserves study. And we believe the Team Rockville slate will make well-reasoned changes to the rules — not to allow widespread development, but to make sensible changes for the city.
Team Rockville includes Mark Pierzchala, a battle-tested, two-term councilman who now wants to succeed Phyllis Marcuccio as mayor. Pierzchala and Marcuccio have disagreed often on city matters, and his election could mean a new direction for the city. With his pro-business agenda, residents would have a clear vision of what that direction is.
The slate also includes Tom Moore, the only incumbent seeking re-election, as well as Beryl L. Feinberg, Virginia Onley and Julie Palakovich Carr. Feinberg, Onley and Palakovich Carr would be serving their first terms in elective positions.
Of the slate’s four council candidates, Palakovich Carr is the easiest to endorse. She provides fact-filled answers to questions, and the city will be well-served by the thoughtful analysis she’ll bring to the council.
Virginia Onley has worked her way up, serving on her homeowners’ association and other city bodies. She has a passion for the city. She’s a good soldier who has worked hard for the city.
The last two endorsements come with caveats.
Moore, a lawyer, has a reputation for interrogating anyone testifying before the council. He should recognize that a city resident appearing at a city meeting is not a witness at trial. Still, he — and Pierzchala — provide a strong voice for open government.
Beryl Feinberg also serves as deputy director and chief operating officer for the county’s Department of General Services. She promises to recuse herself whenever county and city matters conflict. We can trust her to weigh judiciously the line of what’s appropriate and what isn’t. What concerns us, however, is whether she’ll be effective in both jobs. The city and county are likely to disagree, and she could face the difficulty of professional responsibilities and political service.
Ordinarily, we would shy away from endorsing an entire slate; we think it’s justified this time.
The past few years, Rockville council meetings have been marked by sniping and in-fighting. These five people came together to say they could work together to find solutions. There’s no guarantee that the slate will find harmony the next two years, but at this point, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
More than anything — more even than the growth issues the city faces — Rockville needs a governing body that can work together. It would be an overstatement to say that the Rockville council mimics what we’re seeing in Washington,D.C., but Congress serves as a stark reminder why elected leaders need to work for common goals.
Also, Team Rockville’s opponents did not field a complete slate, so at least two members of Team Rockville are going to win no matter the results on Election Day.
In the mayor’s race, Pierzchala faces Bridget Donnell Newton, who is also a two-term council member. For the council, Claire Marcuccio Whitaker and Don Hadley are candidates. Newton, Whitaker and Hadley are longtime Rockville residents. Each brings talents and experience that could serve the city well. And we believe each has the city’s best interests at heart. In another election, with different candidates, any could have earned our endorsement. This year, with this field of candidates, we picked Team Rockville.