With Rockville election in the rearview mirror, looking ahead -- Gazette.Net


With the 2013 election behind them, the incoming Rockville Mayor and Council are looking ahead to the next two years, with most saying the first step is getting together to shape common goals for the next term.

Mayor-elect Bridget Donnell Newton, a two-term council member, said she and her husband are planning a dinner to get to know the incoming council members and their spouses. Newton said the first step for the new Mayor and Council is “laying out a road map or a vision for the next term.”

“My No. 1 priority is meeting with the council and everybody getting to discuss what our goals are and what we’d like to be able to accomplish,” she said.

During the election, the four incoming council members ran on a slate called Team Rockville that did not include Newton. The mayor-elect said she does not think that will matter on the Mayor and Council.

“The people chose the team that they wanted to lead the city, and as the mayor, I will lead that team,” Newton said.

Virginia Onley, who was elected to the council this year after running unsuccessfully in 2009 and 2011, agreed that the slate would not prevent them from working together.

“I don’t think the fact that she was not on the slate with us ... is going to make a difference in working toward what’s best for the city,” Onley said. “Maybe I’m an optimist, but I really am looking at it that way.”

Beryl L. Feinberg, another incoming council member, said she had already spoken with Newton and is looking forward to working with her and the other council members.

Like Onley, Julie Palakovich Carr, who received the most votes of any of the council candidates, said she doesn’t think having council members who ran on a slate that did not include the mayor will matter once they take office.

Tom Moore, who was re-elected to his second term on the council, said he thinks having four members of a slate on the council will lead to a more unified government body and an opportunity to make some progress.

“With a more unified government body, we have an opportunity to really get some things done,” he said.

While the council members-elect don’t agree on everything, the disagreements don’t tend to be fundamental disagreements about where the city should go, Moore said. He also said he has every hope that Newton will join the council members in working together.

“She is an astute politician,” he said. “She can do the math as well as anybody. ... I don’t think she wants to be on the short end of four-to-one votes for two years, so I don’t think she will be.”

Onley said she hopes the new Mayor and Council will agree to hold a retreat to work on a strategy for the next two years. She said talking with other incoming officials and “just getting my arms around what’s already on the plate” are her first priorities after taking office.

Carr said she is looking forward to sitting down with the other members of the incoming Mayor and Council. After that, she said she wants to look at Rockville’s Pike Plan and possibly advance some new initiatives, such as curbside compost pick-up, which she said she discussed with voters during the campaign.

“People seemed pretty enthusiastic about it,” Palakovich Carr said. “... I think it’s something that Rockville should be doing to build on its award-winning recycling program.”

Feinberg said she is ready to get to work on priorities she talked about during the campaign, such as studying whether services are available for Rockville seniors. The first step, she said, is finding out what services are available and then looking into reallocating resources, if needed.

“(We should study) what is being provided by the city, the county and our various nonprofits, and where there may be duplication,” she said.

Feinberg added that the city should also look at whether seniors are able to find the services that are available.

“Are we reaching those who really need the services?” she said.

Feinberg also said she wants to make sure the budgets are sustainable and planning ahead for future expenses, but first, she wants to learn more about how the city is run.

“First of all, I want to learn more,” she said. “Any new council member, I believe, has to really understand more about how the city operates. ... There’s a learning curve.”