ROCKVILLE – It’s official.
The Nov. 3 general election ballot in Rockville reached its limit this past Friday with nine candidates qualifying to run for four City Council seats, joining two candidates running for mayor.
With the filing deadline passing Sept. 4, two additional candidates joined the City Council field in the closing weeks: second-term city planning commissioner David Hill and A Better World Foundation CEO Patrick Schoof.
Six challengers face three incumbents in the larger race, with Council members Virginia Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr and Beryl Feinberg all running for re-election.
Along with Hill and Schoof, other challengers include former council member Mark Pierzchala, Environment Commission chairman Clark Reed and third-time candidates Brigitta Mullican and Richard Gottfried.
Onley, Palakovich Carr, Pierzchala and Reed are all running on the Team Rockville slate, led by mayoral challenger Sima Osdoby, who ran for office twice in the 1980s.
She faces first-term Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, who topped her fellow former council member Pierzchala for the top spot on the five-member legislative body in the 2013 election.
Outside Team Rockville, there are few public alliances.
Newton and Feinberg are both planning to vote for each other but haven’t announced their support for any other candidate.
Gottfried and Mullican are both running solo.
In separate interviews, Gottfried decried Team Rockville as “Team Developer,” saying he could not support any candidates on the slate.
However, he did not outright say he planned to vote for Newton either.
“Team Developer approved increased overcrowding of our schools by 10 percent” said Gottfried, the president of the Twinbrook Homeowners Association, referring to the city council aligning its Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance with that of Montgomery County.
That puts a moratorium on residential development in school zones where schools are at 120 percent capacity. The city previously set that threshold at 110 percent.
“I consider myself a neighborhood candidate,” added Gottfried.
Mullican said she plans to vote Newton and Feinberg but also has issues with the Team Rockville slate.
“I support them because of what I’ve seen on the council,” said Mullican, “but now, my thing is, I’m waiting to see what these people say at the debate. I can’t tell you I’m thrilled about the ‘team’ at all… It didn’t work well the last time they got in.”
Candidates this year are running four-year terms, twice the current term length. That means the next municipal election will be scheduled for November 2019.
Early voting will run for two days next month, Oct. 24-25, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at City Hall. Same-day registration is available for voters who cast ballots at City Hall on those days or on Election Day, Nov. 3.
City spokesperson Marylou Berg noted in an email Rockville is also piloting a new optical scan voting system.
“It will allow voters to feed their hand-marked paper ballot into an optical scanner for tabulation. The new system is used by many other states and will be implemented throughout Maryland in April 2016, with Rockville being the first local government in the state to pilot the new machines,” she stated in an email.
Meanwhile, city residents in the District 7 voting area west of Interstate 270 and south of Route 28 are no longer voting at Richie Park Elementary School.
They will instead cast their ballots at the Latvian Lutheran Church (400 Hurley Ave.).