This article was updated at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2023 to correct that Richard Gottfried ran for the Montgomery County Council and Rockville City Council. He never served on either of the councils.
Updated at 12:13 p.m. to include that Gottfried ran for City Council in 2019 and has lived in Rockville for 33 years.
Updated at 12:47 p.m. to clarify that Harold Hodges no longer works at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin as stated on his LinkedIn profile.
Updated at 1:55 p.m. to clarify Kate Fulton’s employment history as a chief operating officer.
Updated at 5:08 p.m. to correct the name of the King Farm Citizens Assembly and to clarify Barry Jackson’s employment and residential history.
Beyond choosing the mayor and six City Council members in the Nov. 7 elections, Rockville residents will also vote on key issues including lowering the voting age to 16 and setting council term limits.
Registered voters will consider four referenda questions: lowering the voting age to 16; permitting residents who are noncitizens to vote; setting term limits for mayor and city council; and creating representative districts.
This will be the first year that six council seats will be up for grabs, according to the city council. In February, the City Council unanimously voted to expand to seven members, including the mayor. Previously, there were four council seats.
Running to take current Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton’s place are councilmembers, Monique Ashton and Mark Pierzchala. According to City of Rockville records, Newton has served as mayor for three terms since she was first elected in 2013. Pierzchala has served on the council for 12 years and was first elected in 2007. Ashton was first elected to council in the 2019 elections.
When asked why she was not running for reelection, Newton said, “I have been mayor for 10 years. I’ve been on the council for a total of 14 [years], I will be 66 in November, and I think it’s time to try some other things, to turn the mantle over to the next mayor and council.
“It’s been an incredible opportunity for me to serve as mayor. I love this city. And I think it’s been a privilege, but it’s time to move on,” she said in an interview with MoCo360.
There are 12 candidates who have been certified by the Board of Supervisors of Elections to be listed on the ballot: Danniel Belay, Kate Fulton, Richard Gottfried, Harold Hodges, Barry Jackson, Ricky Mui, David Myles, Anita Neal Powell, Paul Scott, Izola Shaw, Marissa Valeri and Adam Van Grack.
About the City Council candidates
Belay is an intelligence operations specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to his LinkedIn profile. In an email to MoCo360, he said that he has worked in the federal service for about four years and has lived in Rockville for about five years. From 2020 to 2022 he served on the City of Rockville’s Board of Supervisors of Elections.
Fulton has lived with her family in Rockville for nearly 14 years, and has led a career in government as a lawyer, policy-maker, chief of staff and chief operating officer, she wrote in an email to MoCo360. According to her campaign website, her government career has spanned 20 years. She works as the chief operating officer at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, division of supervision and regulation.
Gottfried is a certified public accountant (CPA) who started his own practice in Rockville in 1990, his business website states. He has lived in Rockville for 33 years and is a part-time adjunct instructor at Montgomery College and creator of the Washington Area Tennis Association, he wrote in an email to MoCo360. In addition, Gottfried ran for the Montgomery County Council in 2018 and the Rockville City Council in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019.
Hodges is a 14-year Rockville resident and is originally from Los Angeles, California, according to his Rockville City Council application. According to his LinkedIn profile, he is the chief executive officer of TutorCoachPool and the director of finance and administration at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB). According to the communications director at ICPRB, Hodges no longer works at the organization.
Jackson has lived in Rockville for almost 20 years with his family and is the president of the King Farm Citizens Assembly, he wrote in an email to MoCo360. He works as a communications advisor in the Office of the Chief of Staff at AARP and is on the Board of the Rockville Area Village Exchange (RAVE), a non-profit organization that helps seniors socialize and age in place. According to his campaign website, he has been an active voice advocating for pedestrian safety and increased police coverage.
Mui is a member of Rockville’s Human Services Advisory Commission, and was appointed in 2022, according to the City of Rockville. He works as a management consultant at Accenture consulting firm and has lived in Rockville since Oct. 2020, he wrote in an email to MoCo360. In addition, he is a 12-year U.S. Navy veteran and was a naval officer for 10 of those years, according to his campaign website.
Incumbent Myles was first elected in 2019. He has lived in Rockville for seven years and works as a general pediatrician, he wrote in an email to MoCo360. Additionally, Myles served three years active duty in the U.S. Navy, is a cyclist and member of the Rockville Bike Advisory Committee and a member of the county’s Mental Health Advisory Committee, his campaign website states.
Neal Powell is lifelong county resident and the founder of the Lincoln Park Historical Foundation an the Leroy E. Neal African American Research Center, according to the Montgomery County Volunteer Center website. She has also served in leadership positions in several state and county organizations and committees, such as the Rockville Historic District Commission and the Montgomery County NAACP, the website states.
Scott has lived in Rockville for more than seven years and is a commissioner on the City of Rockville’s Transportation and Mobility Commission. Additionally, he serves as the vice-chair on the King Farm Citizens Assembly Board of Trustees and is a board member on the George B. Thomas Learning Academy, which provides Saturday schooling at 10 MCPS schools, according to a video on his campaign website.
Shaw moved to Rockville more than a decade ago and is a community leader, policymaker and an advocate, per her campaign website. She works as a communications strategist at Publicis Sapient. For the City of Rockville, she is a commissioner on the Charter Review Commission and is second chair of the county’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee, according to the City of Rockville.
Valeri has lived in Rockville for 13 years and is a community leader and advocate for pedestrian and public safety, her campaign website states. She works as a physician outreach specialist for the Montgomery County Medical Society and is the cofounder and chair of the Rockville Pedestrian Advocacy Committee and has served on the Twinbrook Community Association’s Executive Committee for the past five years, she wrote in an email to MoCo360.
Van Grack has lived in Rockville for most of his life and is a managing partner at the law firm he co-founded, Longman & Van Grack, he wrote in an email to MoCo360. He served on the Public Policy Committee at the Rockville Chamber of Commerce until his announcement to run for City Council. Additionally, Van Grack’s father served as the Mayor of Rockville from 1985 to 1987, according to the City of Rockville.
How to vote
The City of Rockville will hold a vote-by-mail election this year. Ballots will be mailed to every registered voter on or before Oct. 13 in advance of Election Day on Nov. 7. Completed ballots must be returned to the city by 8 p.m. in person at City Hall or by mail.
There are three ways to vote:
- Mail the completed ballot to City Hall. The ballot has pre-paid postage and must be received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 7.
- Drop off at a 24/7 election drop box, which will be in the parking lot of City Hall, at 111 Maryland Avenue and at the Montrose Community Center, at 451 Congressional Lane.
- Go in person to one of the two election day voting centers located at City Hall and the Thomas Farm Community Center, at 700 Fallsgrove Drive.
Rockville residents who are not registered to vote will be able to register in-person on election day, or can register to vote in the city at any time.
There are different ways to register to vote: through the Montgomery County voter registration website; in-person at Rockville City Hall, a public library, U.S. post office or the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration; or by phone, 240-777-8500 to request registration forms.
Ballots will be sent to the address listed on residents’ voter registration record. To confirm that your address is correct, you can check on the Maryland State Board of Elections website.
According to Rockville’s voter registration webpage, to be eligible to register to vote in Rockville elections one must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 16 years old – but cannot vote until they are 18 years old to – not under guardianship for mental disability or have not been found by a court to be unable to communicate a desire to vote.
Two of the referenda questions in the upcoming elections will address Rockville residents’ preferences around permitting 16-year-old residents and non-citizen Rockville residents to vote. The results of the referenda will not result in any changes to the law but will aid the City Council in the creation of new laws by considering how voters voted on the questions.
MoCo360’s 2023-2024 Voters Guide includes information on local and state elections and candidate profiles. Visit it here.