ROCKVILLE – Brigitta Mullican said she is running as the most-nonpartisan candidate in Rockville’s already nonpartisan election.
A retired U.S. Department of Health and Human Services budget officer and a previous candidate for city council, Mullican kicked off her campaign for Rockville City Council on July 14 promising to be an independent voice on the council if elected.
Before dozens of supporters in purple shirts who packed into the Twinbrook Community Recreation Center in Rockville, Mullican promised to be the alternative of the bitter-political divide in the city.
“Each candidate is supposed to run on his or her own merits, and act on city matters on their merits, not as slates that put a premium on conformity rather than originality,” Mullican told her supporters. “One slate running against another is really just another form of political partisanship.”
David Hill, a former candidate for Rockville’s city council, introduced Mullican at her event, saying she was the only truly independent candidate running. Hill previously ran against Mullican in the 2015 election, and said while he disagreed with her on some issues, he decided to back her this time around.
“I admire that Brigitta has the confidence to ask a former opponent to make this introduction,” Hill said. “It speaks to her ability to work with all comers in the public sphere and to keep her eye on the benefits for the community.”
Bridging the political divide in the city is one of the critical planks of Mullican’s campaign. She said that she does not belong to either one of the slates that are currently running. In Rockville elections are nonpartisan, but this time around most candidates have joined one of two slates: Team Rockville and Rockville Forward.
The four current members of the mayor and council have fought with one another over the last four years. While sometimes the divide is over policy, often members of the council complain about a lack of trust in one another.
In the last election, Team Rockville won three spots on the mayor and council with Virginia Onley, Mark Pierzchala and Julie Palakovich Carr all taking seats. Their three-vote majority has caused a divide on the council as Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and Councilmember Beryl Feinberg have accused the members of Team Rockville of voting as a bloc.
In response, for this election, Newton and Feinberg have joined together to create their own slate — Rockville Forward — to band candidates together as an alternative to Team Rockville.
Mullican has positioned herself in the middle, promising to be a swing vote between the two factions if she is elected.
In addition to fighting partisanship in the city, Mullican has pledged, if elected, to be a superior steward of the city’s budget, to help stimulate business in Rockville Town Center by making parking free on the weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and encourage more growth and development in the city.
Mullican also proposed increasing the size of the council, saying the city has grown, while citizen’s representation in government has not.
“It is time to right-size our city government, to scrutinize the budget to avoid waste and to make sure we don’t duplicate services provided by other organizations,” she said.
Mullican has been active in the city, serving on the planning board and the Rockville Sister City Corporation. She ran in the last city election in 2015, finishing seventh.
In addition to Mullican and Pierzchala, Cynthia Cotte Griffiths, James Hedrick and David Myles are running for council as a part of Team Rockville. Feinberg, Monique Ashton, Kuan Lee and Suzan Pitman are running for council as part of the Rockville Forward slate.