Action Committee for Transit endorses Team Rockville

Montgomery County’s Advocates for Better Transportation

Team Rockville cares about expanding transit options, reducing traffic, and protecting neighborhoods from harmful development so we’re pleased our hard work in this area has been recognized by the Action Committee for Transit with this endorsement:

The Action Committee for Transit endorses the Team Rockville slate for Rockville City Council. Team Rockville is committed to stopping the destructive plan to widen I-270, to making lively, walkable mixed-use neighborhoods flourish around the city’s Metro stations, and to increasing the supply of affordable housing for Rockville tenants.

The two current council members on the slate have shown their commitment to a better Rockville. Town center resident Virginia Onley, the slate’s mayoral candidate, has worked hard to make downtown Rockville thrive. Mark Pierzchala initiated the citizen movement against the I-270 widening. They are joined by three first-time candidates: James Hendrick, who has a particularly far-seeing urbanist vision, Cynthia Cotte Griffiths, and David Myles.

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Mark Pierzchala on the Impact of I-270 Widening on Rockville

Detail of Rockville from the interactive map of the I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study.

Gov. Hogan’s plans to add lanes to I-270 are now two years old and as controversial as ever, in part because residents still don’t know what to expect. I have fought against this plan from the start, and if it continues to go forward, I will work tirelessly to minimize the impact.

Options have narrowed, and the state seems to prefer those with two managed (toll) lanes in each direction because of the revenue they would provide. With these, the interstate would expand from 12 to 16 lanes through Rockville.

Under current plans, it’s unclear whether—and how many—backyards would shrink. Whatever happens, our City will see disruption for some number of years.

Some or all of the bridges over the highway may have to be rebuilt. The Gude Drive overpass will be used to provide ramps for the managed lanes. This will cause changes in traffic patterns for Woodley Gardens, King Farm, College Gardens, West End, Rockshire, Fallsmead, and nearby neighborhoods. Streets likely affected: Nelson Street, College Parkway, Gude Drive, Wootton Parkway, Watts Branch Parkway, Research Boulevard, and Piccard Drive to name just some of them. Gude Drive’s bridge is slated to have perpendicular ramps to the toll lanes. The Wootton Parkway bridge was also mentioned in one of the meetings, though the use of this bridge does not appear as likely.

Phase 1 of the state’s plans goes from just south of I-370 down to the Beltway. So far, plans do not address (1) the area north of I-370, (2) the Beltway, or (3) the American Legion Bridge.

At present, Phase II covers I-270 north of I-370. Frederick and Gaithersburg are so-called “participating agencies” for Phase II. But Rockville is not a participating agency for Phase I. Why not? We should be.

Continue reading “Mark Pierzchala on the Impact of I-270 Widening on Rockville”

Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats Endorses Team Rockville

Yesterday, the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Maryland (CAPAD-MD) and its regional organization, Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Montgomery County (CAPAD-MC), endorsed the members of Team Rockville in the Rockville Municipal election:

In their endorsement, CAPAD-MD and CAPAD-MC stated that they recognized our

commitment and proactive stance to promote diversity and fairness, recognize the special needs of multi-cultural communities, and support economic empowerment for minority communities and the community at large.  CAPAD-MD and CAPAD-MC also believe that your vision and actions would help improve Montgomery County’s and Rockville’s economic position, address and integrate the special needs of our immigrant communities, support minority small businesses, and continue to make Maryland, Montgomery County and Rockville one of the best places to live for working families. Once again congratulations.

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David Myles on the Rise of Opioid Deaths in Children

Dr. David Myles, pediatrician and candidate for Rockville City Council

When children die from opioid use, few seem to care.

A recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) documented a three-fold increase in opioid deaths among people 19 years of age and younger from 1999-2016.  I work as a pediatrician in an emergency department in rural Maryland and have treated children who overdose on opioids.  As shocked as I was to learn of this sobering statistic, I was more concerned about the lack of coverage that this information generated among mainstream media outlets.

I have generally applauded the response many segments of society (including the media, governmental bodies, law enforcement, etc.) mounted in response to this opioid epidemic.  Learning from the wrong-headed approach to the war on drugs of the 1980s in which people who used drugs often bore the brunt of the negative vitriol and related consequences, current approaches have viewed drug use as more of a health condition.  Instead of criminalizing drug use, many jurisdictions have set up “drug courts” to help people with drug use disorders get treatment and keep them out of the criminal justice system.  Even with this more well-informed approach, shortcomings exist—particularly as it is related to addressing opioid misuse for minors.  More specifically, many of the modalities used to treat opioid misuse (medications, treatment centers, etc.) are difficult for minors to access.  

When minors are discussed with regard to the opioid epidemic, the focus is often on prevention and awareness.  While laudable, such efforts do not address the needs of minors who are already misusing opioids and need treatment.

The federal government and some municipalities have made great strides in their financial support to expand centers where people with a history of opioid misuse can get help.  However, there are very few centers throughout this region and country that will treat minors who misuse opioids.  There are also medications that help people wean off of opioids (e.g. suboxone) but very few providers are certified to provide this medication for people less than 18 years of age.

Continue reading “David Myles on the Rise of Opioid Deaths in Children”

James Hedrick on the Future and Opportunity

Council candidate James Hedrick and his daughter during the first week of school.

My daughter started kindergarten.

Last Tuesday, my family and I participated in a time-honored educational tradition: the first day of school. We dragged our kids out of bed, made a giant breakfast, put them in their newest clothes, and took about a hundred pictures. Thing 1* participated with good grace, smiling for the camera and teaching her little sister how to say “kindergarten”. Then she walked with my wife and I (and some neighbors we met along the way) to her new elementary school, chatting the whole time about the reading area, her teacher, and which playground she liked best. 

Even apart from my obvious bias, Thing 1 is just about the kindest, funniest, sweetest kid in the world. She’s a great artist and a wonderful big sister who loves nothing more than rainbows, unicorns, and dancing. This morning, she was thinking about recess, the lunch she packed herself, and learning to read. Unfortunately, as her dad, I need to think beyond that (although I also packed my own lunch).

Thing 1 is just about the kindest, funniest, sweetest kid in the world.

If parenthood does anything, it changes your perspective on time. You must think five, ten, twenty years down the road. You have to think about summer camps, planning family holidays, and college savings funds. When should they get their own room? Their own cell phone? A car? 

When I started this campaign, I said I got into this race to create the best hometown for my kids that I could. When I say this campaign is about our children, I don’t mean it as a cliche; I mean something concrete for my family and yours. What kind of future are we building for the next generation in Rockville?

Continue reading “James Hedrick on the Future and Opportunity”

How Vote-By-Mail Works in Rockville

Team Rockville candidates explain how vote-by-mail works in Rockville in this short YouTube video. Remember, election day is now election month starting in early October when you receive your ballot by mail and ends when the City of Rockville receives your ballot by 8:00 p.m. on November 5, 2019. Postmarks do not count.

To receive a ballot automatically by mail, be sure you’re registered by September 20. After that, you’ll need to register in person at City Hall (you can even register and vote the same day on November 5). More information about voting is available at the City of Rockville.

Healthcare Center Residents Welcome Team Rockville

Residents at Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center show their support for Team Rockville.

Team Rockville recently met with the residents of Collingswood Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center who were interested in the upcoming election. Collingswood provides short-term care for people who are transitioning from hospital to home, as well as long-term residential care, and is one of only two skilled nursing facilities in the area to provide onsite hemodialysis. In the last election, the residents didn’t know any of the candidates so for 2019, they invited the Team Rockville candidates to learn more about them. The  residents were pleased to meet us and to learn that Team Rockville will be working for people like them.

The big news is that Collingswood Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center has been purchased by Marquis Health Services which “is proud to introduce a whole new level of post-acute care to the communities of Montgomery County.” They planning for $4.5 million in renovations, including the addition of approximately 30 private rooms and expansions of the therapy gym and common spaces, such as the dining areas and day rooms.

Team Rockville is pleased to have such a sterling facility in our City because it helps create a community that serves residents receive the care they need at every stage of life—that’s what makes a city a community. We hope you agree with us and vote for Virginia Onley for Mayor and Cindy Cotte Griffiths, James Hedrick, David Myles, and Mark Pierzchala for City Council.

Team Rockville candidates David Myles, Cindy Cotte Griffiths, Virginia Onley, and James Hedrick at Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Rockville.

Team Rockville Goes Out at Night Despite Thunderstorm

National Night Out experienced terrific thunderstorms in Rockville, but where neighborhoods could gather, Team Rockville candidates visited. To share the evening with others who weren’t able to attend, here are a couple snapshots from our visit to Living Faith Lutheran Church in Twinbrook. Thanks for welcoming us and the community during this important national event.

Did you know that Councilmember Mark Pierzchala voted to build Rockville’s police department and Mayor Bridget Newton voted against it?

Washington Post posts Op-Ed by Mark Pierzchala

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In partnership with Prince George’s County, Montgomery County recently convinced the  Transportation Planning Board at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to consider a more complete and environmentally sensitive approach to the State’s plans for easing congestion on I-270 and I-495. The new alternative to be studied includes managed lanes, reversible lanes, active traffic management techniques, spot improvements, expansion of park & ride facilities, and dedicates some toll revenues to already planned transit projects.

But as Team Rockville member Mark Pierzchala points out, this won’t be sufficient in his recent Washington Post op-ed.  As he notes, “There is too much sprawl in the region for transit alone to solve the commuting crisis…The mess is decades in the making.”  As an alternative to the endless cycle of growth and sprawl encouraged by bigger and faster highways, he suggests a better use of land through transit-oriented development.

This year, Rockville finally embraced a transit-oriented development near the Twinbrook Metro called Twinbrook Quarter. But it was a rough fight, and the project nearly failed on the issue of school crowding, even though it will pay for more school capacity than students it will generate. I don’t blame parents for being angry about schools bursting at the seams. They’re paying high property tax rates, and their children deserve better. But their children are going to grow up, and they should be able to live and work in Rockville as young adults if they so choose.

Think this is too radical for Rockville?  Actually, transit-oriented development has been around for at least twenty years and the DC region has several examples that serve as  national models. Indeed, Rockville is actually falling behind in this kind of land use planning, even though it’s an ideal solution to the region’s housing and transportation problems.

Thankfully, as our Councilmember, Mark is thinking ahead and as a part of Team Rockville, he brings with him a group of thoughtful, experienced, and diverse residents to address community issues today to create an even better future for our children and grandchildren. Mark served two terms as Councilmember from 2009 to 2013 then returned in 2015. On the Council, he has reduced spending while growing Rockville’s tax base. His experiences on the Council, as a small-business owner, as president of the College Gardens Civic Association, and his stint as chair of the Town Center Action Team, as well as his biking and walking tours of all City streets give him a unique perspective on the needs of residents and businesses.

To read the entire op-ed, see “The Interstate 270 Mess Was Decades in the Making” by Mark Pierzchala in the July 5 edition of the Washington Post.

“Run For Something” Endorses James Hedrick for City Council

Hedrick Run for Something.jpgRun for Something, a nationwide progressive organization supporting young candidates running for state and local office, endorsed James Hedrick in his campaign for Rockville City Council.  Team Rockville is proud to endorse him as well and glad he’s part of our team for Mayor and Council in 2019.

Run for Something helps recruit and support young diverse progressives to run for down-ballot races in order to build a bench for the future: “the folks we support now could be possible members of the House, Senate, and maybe even President one day.” They lower the barriers to entry for these candidates by helping them with seed money, organization building, and access to training needed to be successful. James is one of only two candidates in Maryland endorsed by Run for Something.

James has been an active resident of Rockville since 2014, where he lives in the Twinbrook neighborhood with his wife and two young daughters.  Professionally, James’s background illustrates his deep commitment to public service. Starting as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) with HUD to his recent tenure on the Board of Rockville Housing Enterprises (RHE) and the Twinbrook Community Association (TCA), James will bring a wealth of practical experience and policy knowledge to the Council. While at HUD, James worked in economic development, traveling around the country helping local officials turn federal money into economic opportunity for their communities.