Virginia Onley on Recent Nominations for Rockville Boards & Commissions

Virginia Onley, candidate for Mayor

Rockville Residents have many valuable skills that can support our common vision for a welcoming, safe, and thriving City. One of the key responsibilities of the Mayor is to nominate candidates to serve on our City’s boards and commissions. Sadly, there have been far too many vacancies – some since 2015 – stalling residents’ ability to provide vital community input and expertise. As a councilmember and a candidate for mayor, I’ve raised my concern with the numerous vacancies.  

At our most recent Mayor & Council meeting, the Mayor put forward 15 nominations, including 6 reappointments.

It’s about time. 

I believe we should give residents from across our City a chance to serve and I look forward to reviewing and discussing these nominees. The lack of action by the Mayor to fill these positions sooner has created a void of leadership. I’m ready to lead as mayor of our great City to make sure residents have a seat at the table.  

Virginia Onley is a City of Rockville Councilmember and a candidate for Mayor. You are learn more about her experience, qualifications, and vision for Rockville at VoteVirginiaOnley.org.

Dear King Farm Neighbor

As a father of two young boys, I can confidently say that we have a choice in this election. Two candidates, James Hedrick and David Myles, have young children themselves and will truly fight for King Farm’s many young families. Cynthia Cotte Griffiths, who has two boys—the youngest recently graduated high school—has years of educational leadership experience, including as President of the Richard Montgomery High School’s PTSA.

We are also proud of our diversity in Rockville and in King Farm.  Our diverse cultures, experiences, and perspectives enrich our city.  If elected, Virginia Onley would be our City’s first African American mayor and would bring her extensive experience as a current City Council member and as a leader in the private sector.  Her advocacy of affordable housing will ensure that we have a city where teachers, retail workers, young professionals, and police officers can afford to live where they work.

Last but not least, Mark Pierzchala will bring his years of institutional knowledge and experience as a City Council member. Mark has fought for a fiscally responsible city and has also been the driving force on the Council to find a suitable adaptive use for King Farm Farmstead.

I want my two young boys to grow up well-educated in a city where their bi-racial background and multicultural heritage are part of a welcoming, inclusive, and diverse community, where they will find good jobs and affordable housing when they grow up.

For all these reasons, I support Team Rockville as the team that has the vision, leadership, and values to ensure that Rockville is the ideal place to live, work, and play for generations to come.

Sincerely,

John Chu

King Farm Neighbor

The last candidate forum will be hosted at the King Farm Community Center today, October 23 from 6-8 pm

Greater Greater Washington Moves with Team Rockville

Greater Greater Washington,  a nonprofit organization that brings people together for an inclusive, diverse, growing Washington, DC region, has endorsed all five candidates of Team Rockville. Recognizing that there are two competing visions for Rockville’s future, Team Rockville’s acknowledgement of the need for housing affordability and Vision Zero policies attracted Greater Greater Washington’s attention and their conclusion that “Rockville should move ahead with Team Rockville.”

Team Rockville will work to foster growth around our metro corridors, oppose plans to widen I-270, and promote housing affordability within Rockville. Virginia OnleyJames HedrickMark PierzchalaCynthia Cotte Griffiths, and David Myles will bring an urbanist future for Rockville and we urge City of Rockville residents to vote for them on November 5.

For the detailed endorsement, read “In Rockville, Pro-Affordable Housing and Anti-Development Slates Battle for the City Council.”

Team Rockville’s Wide-Ranging Endorsements

We are honored by the many endorsements we’ve received during this election, especially because they represent both organizations and community leaders who have demonstrated their interest in the future of Rockville.

Organizations that have endorsed the every candidate in Team Rockville include the Action Committee for Transit and the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats.

Community leaders that have endorsed every candidate in Team Rockville include:

  • John Chu, King Farm resident
  • Susan Hoffman, former Rockville Mayor
  • Will Jawando, Montgomery County Council At-Large
  • Tom Moore, former Rockville City Councilmember
  • Julie Palakovich Carr, Maryland State Assembly, District 17
  • Vaughn Stewart, Maryland State Assembly, District 19
  • Sima Osdoby, former Rockville Mayoral Candidate 
  • Judge Chung Pak, retired Administrative Patent Judge at the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board
  • Ben Shnider, former Montgomery County Council Candidate, District 3
  • Steve Silverman, former Montgomery County Council President and Director of the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development.

Organizations that have endorsed individual candidates in Team Rockville include:

David Myles: CASA in Action, New Politics

James Hedrick: CASA in Action, Progressive Maryland, Our Revolution, Run for Something

Virginia Onley: Our Revolution, Progressive Maryland, CASA in Action

Thanks again for everyone’s support during this tough election and please encourage your friends and neighbors to mail their ballot well before the November 5 deadline (postmarks do NOT count!).

Clark Reed Appointed Chair of Team Rockville

Today, Team Rockville accepted the resignation of Max van Balgooy as chairman of our committee. As candidates we did not approve of his recent personal blog post concerning Beryl Feinberg that was inconsistent with the values of Team Rockville. Although she had poor judgement when using a photo without consent for a paid political advertisement, we condemn the insinuations of insensitivity around diversity and inclusion.

Clark Reed is now officially the chairman of the Team Rockville committee. Team Rockville’s candidates will continue to dedicate ourselves to working toward our vision of a city with affordable housing, good jobs, safe schools, and a government that is inclusive and achieves equity.

CASA in Action Endorses Team Rockville Candidates

CASA in Action, the region’s largest pro-immigrant electoral organization, is pleased to announce its endorsements for Rockville’s upcoming elections on November 5. CASA in Action’s Board of Directors endorsed those who support a pro-immigrant agenda that benefits working families.

“Now more than ever, our local elections are important for our immigrant community. This year we will fight to elect candidates who will provide social and economic opportunities to help all Rockville residents,” said Yaheiry Mora, Director of CASA in Action. “The candidates we endorse have a longstanding history of activism and are fearless champions in the fight for equity and justice.”

Here are the Team Rockville candidates who inspired CASA in Action members to get involved:

​As a member of the Rockville City Council for six years, Virginia D. Onley fought for progressive policies that increase participation of all residents of Rockville. This includes voting in favor of Rockville’s Fostering Community Trust Act, a critical ordinance that ensures that the City remains inclusive and safe for all members. We believe that Ms. Onley is the right person to lead Rockville as Mayor.

A fierce advocate who has dedicated his life to advancing affordable housing, James Hedrick is a progressive activist who will increase funding for housing and job opportunities for low and moderate-income working families.

As a pediatrician and physician representative for the Montgomery County’s Mental Health Advisory Committee, David Myles has worked to ensure that public initiatives are mindful of the challenges faced by children who have mental health conditions. His goal is to improve the lives and access to healthcare of all children and residents of Rockville.

Continue reading “CASA in Action Endorses Team Rockville Candidates”

Team Rockville Rallies in Lincoln Park

Team Rockville gathering in Lincoln Park to start the get-out-the-vote campaign for the current election.

This morning, dozens of Team Rockville supporters met in Lincoln Park to help get out the vote for the current Mayor and Council election. Because the east side of town is under-represented in city government and voter turnout is lower than average, we made a special push this morning to encourage residents east of Route 355 to vote-by-mail and have their voice heard by voting for Team Rockville.

Thanks to everyone that came out to walk neighborhoods in Lincoln Park, East Rockville, Burgundy, Silver Rock, Twinbrook, and more. It was great to see so many people gather on this beautiful morning, and a perfect way to enjoy Rockville and support your community.

Mark Pierzchala on RedGate Golf Course

Mark Pierzchala at the former RedGate Golf Course in Rockville.

Mark Pierzchala, a Rockville City Councilman who is up for re-election this fall, was extensively interviewed in Governing about public golf courses in “Course Correction.” The case study is Rockville’s RedGate Golf Course, which was recently managed by Billy Casper Golf until it decided to end its lease. Here’s an excerpt that provides some background and Mark’s vision for RedGate:

Back in Maryland, Rockville’s first reckoning with its municipal golf course came in 2010. The Great Recession had wreaked havoc on the city’s budget and amid all the cuts to consider, RedGate’s half-million-dollar annual losses floated right up to the top. “Many golfers were very angry about the idea of not subsidizing the course,” says Councilman Mark Pierzchala. After weighing various options, the city opted to contract with Billy Casper Golf to run the course beginning in 2011. The hope was that by folding RedGate into a national company’s portfolio, Billy Casper would make the necessary investments to get the course to turn a profit. “We knew there was a possibility they couldn’t make it work,” says Pierzchala. “But in the end, we figured it was our best shot.”

Eight years later, the prevailing market forces are now too strong to salvage RedGate. It’s surrounded by competition. Four different country club courses are just miles away, and a county-run golf course and driving range is about 10 minutes northeast. Unable to turn much of a profit, Billy Casper Golf cut down on maintaining the course, which led to a host of irrigation problems in the hilly terrain. A National Golf Foundation report issued after Billy Casper dropped the course found that it would cost at least $2.5 million to repair the drainage, irrigation, cart paths and other landscaping necessities required to restore the course to its heyday. In total, the city was looking at an investment of up to $3.7 million to get the course back in good condition. And that investment came with no guarantee that the course would then break even.

In June, the city council officially decided to consider other options for the course and took the first step in hiring a consultant to conduct a master planning process. Unlike in 2010, there was very little—if any—pushback. Instead, most council members view it as an opportunity. For Pierzchala, it’s a chance to finally get the $15 million windfall the city needs to restore a historic dairy barn and farmstead on the north end of town for use as an event venue. The city’s town center also needs new investment, he says. The councilman is hoping Rockville sells a portion of the land to a developer for mixed-use housing and retail. Others would rather invest in keeping the entire area as open parkland. The debate is sure to dominate the city’s elections this fall. “To me,” says Pierzchala, “it’s about what are you giving up to rescue this place.”

To read the complete story that puts Rockville in a national context, visit Governing.com. To learn more about Mark Pierzchala and his vision for Rockville, visit https://votepierzchala.org/.

Cynthia Cotte Griffiths on Everyone Is Responsible for Street Safety

Pedestrian and cyclist safety is going in the wrong direction. Maryland is one of 25 states to experience year-over-year increases in accidents and pedestrian deaths increased 25% in the last year.

Montgomery County and Rockville both adopted Vision Zero initiatives and Maryland followed last year. However, the devil is in the details. This means that even though all of our jurisdictions have agreed to work toward zero driver, pedestrian, and cyclist deaths, the actual action items and implementation will take more time and effort to complete than realized.

Montgomery County adopted a Vision Zero traffic safety initiative in February 2016 to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by 2030. A two-year action plan was implemented in November 2017 and half of the 41 items outlined are behind schedule or haven’t started, and a separate 10-year action plan hasn’t been touched.

Meanwhile, Rockville city staff have been working with the Rockville Traffic and Transportation Commission and other interested bodies to formulate the city’s action plan that is basically modeled after the County’s plan. Rockville was built as a suburb with car-oriented major thoroughfares designed to move traffic. As our city has grown to include more walkable neighborhoods, we must redesign to actually make the streets safe for walking and biking. This is called creating “complete streets.”

This decorative fence in the median keeps pedestrians from jay-walking on busy Park Road.

Vision Zero primarily makes sure our streets are engineered to be safe so that even if you make a mistake while driving, walking, or biking, you don’t die from that mistake. An example is the black fence on Park Road by the Rockville Metro station that prevents people from jay-walking across the street. Vehicles making left turns are the most deadly. An action as simple as adding rubber bumps along center lines forces vehicles to slow down because they have to make a sharper left turn. Installing flashing yellow lights when vehicles are permitted to make a left turn on green has also proved effective.

Continue reading “Cynthia Cotte Griffiths on Everyone Is Responsible for Street Safety”