Rockets react to Rockville-Gaithersburg election

On the ballot for this election, Rockville residents were able to vote for mayor and council members, as well as answer four advisory referendum questions regarding different topics.
On the ballot for this election, Rockville residents were able to vote for mayor and council members, as well as answer four advisory referendum questions regarding different topics.
Christiana Vucea

On Nov. 7, the sixty-seventh election in history of the City of Rockville took place. Voters casted ballots to elect the new Mayor of Rockville and six new council members.

There were three key election dates for voters. On May 1, voters received the Candidate Information Election Packet. Oct. 13 was the cut off date for registered voters to mail in their ballots. Nov. 7 was election day, where registered voters completed their ballots in-person at City Hall or by mail before 8 p.m.

Many RM students were unaware of these important dates.

“I had no idea,” sophomore Neha Jayawardhane said. “Nothing was advertised around my neighborhood.”

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However, the RM community is overall supportive of participating in voting during the election.

“It is important to be involved in the community and have your voice heard,” sophomore Amreen Hossain said.

The candidates running for Office of Mayor were Monique Ashton and Mark Pierzchala. The candidates running for Office of Council were: Danniel Belay, Kate Fulton, Richard Gottfried, Harold Hodges, Barry Jackson, Rick F. Mui, David Myles, Anita Neal Powell, Paul Scott, Izola (Zola) Shaw, Marissa Valeri and Adam Van Grack. These candidates were all certified by the Board of Supervisors of Elections.

RM students also have some opinions on the traits that make a candidate worthy of being elected.

“[A quality candidate is] outspoken, takes into account people’s voices, has good leadership skills, good morals, good intentions,” Hossain said.

Students also value diverse representation in their city government.

“I think a diverse city council is important to reflect a diverse city. I wanted to have a candidate that actually interacts with people, not just someone who is a higher up or isn’t really a part of the community,” Jayawardhane said.

The official election results were shared on Nov. 14 with a total number of voters being 12,770, according to the City of Rockville Website.

Voters elected Monique Ashton for mayor with 7,298 votes, while challenger Mark Pierzchala received 5,028 votes.

The council members elected were Kate Fulton (8,948 votes), Adam Van Grack (8,072 votes), Izola (Zola) Shaw (7,612 votes), David Myles (6,163 votes), Marissa Valeri (5,995 votes) and Barry Jackson (5,962 votes).

In addition to electing a new mayor and council members, this year’s ballot included a series of questions for voters to express their preferences on without causing any changes to the law.

One question on the ballot asked if Rockville residents aged 16-17 should be allowed to vote. An overwhelming majority of voters responded to not allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote, with 3,601 voting “Yes” and 8,665 voting “No.”

RM students seem to share similar sentiments to Rockville’s voters on this issue.

“Heck no! I don’t think they are responsible enough,” Hossain said.

The ballot also included a question asking if city residents without U.S. citizenship be allowed to vote. Voters expressed concerns over allowing city residents without U.S. citizenship to vote, as 4,208 voted “Yes” while 7,926 voted “No.”

Additionally, the ballot contained a question regarding if elected officials should be limited to three consecutive terms. Most voters also supported limiting elected officials to three consecutive terms, as 9,267 voted “Yes” while 2,786 voted “No.”

As for the question regarding if some or all six council members should be elected by representative districts, voters were almost evenly split on whether some or all six council members should be elected in this way, as 5,090 voted “Yes” and 6,378 voted “No.”

The newly elected Mayor and Council held their first meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 20 where they verified election results and discussed community matters.

Students at RM find the importance of having a local government in order to ensure that all people’s voices are heard on community issues.

“We should be more involved and know more about local things and what happens in our community,” Jayawardhane said.

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