Newton pledges to preserve the ‘small-town feel’ of ‘big-city’ Rockville -- Gazette.Net







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Rockville’s new mayor said she looks at the post not as a challenge, but as an opportunity to lead people to make Rockville the best city.

“We must protect the small-town feel of our big city,” said Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, shortly after officially taking office. “... We are the best place to live, work, retire and raise a family.”

Newton took the oath of office Sunday afternoon at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre in Rockville. In a speech to an almost-full house, Newton said she hoped the mayor and council would quickly adopt legislative priorities for the coming year and support the Montgomery County Public Schools’ request for more funding.

She also said she wants to help find a better space for the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department; to start a small-business grant program through Rockville Economic Development Inc.; and to get to work on Rockville’s Pike Plan.

“The pike is a retail mecca,” she said. “... (We should) encourage development that is moderate in scale and doesn’t block the sunlight and create a canyon-like feel.”

Newton’s first official duty as mayor was to swear in the new council. The three first-time council members are Beryl L. Feinberg, Virginia D. Onley and Julie Palakovich Carr. Council member Tom Moore is returning for his second term.

Together, the five officials make up Rockville’s 64th mayor and council.

Eileen McGuckian, founder and former director of Peerless Rockville, served as the master of ceremonies and gave an overview of the city’s political history. From 1864 until 1888, Rockville was led by three commissioners. It then moved to the current system of a mayor and four council members. The diversity of the mayor and council increased over the years, and Viola D. Hovsepian was appointed in 1984 as the city’s first woman mayor. Now, the mayor and council has four women and one man, and Onley is the city’s first female African-American council member.

The new mayor and council met for the first time Monday at City Hall.