This story was first published at 8:54 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2023. It was updated at 6:25 p.m. to include the comments from the projected winners of Rockville’s city election (Monique Ashton, Kate Fulton, Adam Van Grack, Izola Shaw, David Myles, Barry Jackson and Marissa Valeri).
Monique Ashton defeated fellow city councilmember Mark Pierzchala to win Rockville’s mayoral election with 58.71% of the total votes, according to the city’s unofficial results.
Ashton received 7,190 votes to Pierzchala’s 5,006 votes, or 40.88%. According to the city’s website, there were 51 mail-in votes for the mayoral seat. Ashton, who was first elected to the City Council in 2019, ran on a platform of smart growth, strong schools, inclusive community engagement and bringing industry to Rockville.
Ashton is the first woman of color to be elected Rockville’s mayor.
She told MoCo360 that she is honored to be the first Black and Latina women to serve as Rockville’s mayor and said the experience has been “surreal.”
“I’m excited. I got a phone call from the governor’s office and I’m ready to just put out a vision and a path forward to work collaboratively with my council member colleagues as well as multiple levels of government to get results for Rockville,” Ashton said.
“I mean, we’re looking at everything from economic development, pedestrian safety to looking at how we can support our seniors and our children. I’m just thrilled to have this opportunity, she said. “I know what it means. To me, It’s not a title. It’s an act of service and I intend to really deliver
Pierzchala, who stated to MoCo360 he viewed himself as the “underdog” in the race, said Tuesday afternoon he was hopeful for his chances thanks to his 12 years of experience on the council.
Joining Ashton to serve four-year terms as the new City Council are Kate Fulton, Barry Jackson, incumbent David Myles, Izola (Zola) Shaw, Marissa Valeri and Adam Van Grack.
Fulton received the highest vote total with 8,867 votes or 14.47%, followed by Van Grack with 7,997 votes (13.05%), Shaw with 7,520 votes (12.27%), Myles with 6,114 (9.98%), Jackson with 5,919 votes (9.66%) and Valeri with 5,905 votes (9.64%).
The day after Election Day, Fulton told MoCo360 that she was thrilled and grateful to voters and the wide community support. She was especially grateful to he husband who was her campaign manager, moral support and door-knocker, she said.
She added, “I’m eager to get down to the real work of serving. And I want to be open available and responsive to all of Rockville. I am also incredibly impressed with the fellow elected and the collegiality. We’ve already established amongst the group. I think we will be a really great group of people to get good things done in the next four years.
Van Grack said that he was very proud of the “grassroots campaign” that he ran.
“I could not be more thrilled with the results,” he said. “The voters of Rockville have trusted me to serve on the city council and they’ve elected me to serve in the on behalf of the community that I grew up in. And, having this trust and receiving their trust in this role will be the honor of my life.”
Shaw, who received the third highest number of votes, said that she was “incredibly grateful” to have won a spot on the council and was looking forward to working with fellow city councilmembers and the new mayor, especially on issues such as affordable housing and revitalizing Rockville Town Center.
Myles who was reelected by Rockville voters wrote in a campaign email, “We encountered several unforeseen challenges in our re-election effort. Those challenges became life-lessons on faith, endurance, and loyalty—lessons that I will never forget. … While I have been given the honor of serving four more years as a Rockville City Councilmember, I will redouble my efforts to make every minute count.”
Jackson said that he was proud in his campaign and is ready to “get to work for the people of Rockville.”
He added that on the list of priorities for council hiring a new city manager is one of the items at the top of the list. “Because if we get that right then we have a city manager that we can work with, and who will take our priorities and be able to implement them for the next four years,” he said.
Valeri, who lives in Twinbrook, said that she woke up in “disbelief” when the results first came out in the early morning hours of Nov. 8. “I’m still kind of stunned. I felt everything for my community, for Twinbrook for the entire east side of the city, for everybody across the city that believed in me. It was a lot. It was a lot of emotions.”
She one thing that she is most excited to begin working on in city council is implementing Rockville’s Pedestrian Master Plan.
The council field was packed with candidates with a total of 12 seeking to join the city’s governing board.
Paul Scott received 5,054 votes (8.25%), Richard Gottfried received 4,065 votes (6.63%), Anita Neal Powell received 3,790 votes (5.16%), Ricky F. Mui received 3, 165 votes (5.16%), Daniel Belay received 1,977 votes (3.23%) and Harold Hodges received 636 votes (1.04%).
Results of the referendum advisory questions
Rockville voters also had four referendum questions posed to share their opinion to the council. The referendum questions are nonbinding, and simply serve to allow voters to express a preference. The mayor and council will make the ultimate decisions on those issues.
Voters largely were against allowing the voting ages to be lowered allowing 16- to 17-year-olds to vote as 8,593 voters opposed the question compared to 3,542 in favor with 249 not stating an opinion.
The margin was slightly closer for the question on allowing Rockville residents that do not have U.S. citizenship to vote with 7,857 against and 4,150 for with 277 voters having no opinion.
Voters overwhelmingly supported a three-term limit for officials with 9,162 in favor and 2,761 against and 453 with no opinion.
In a much tighter vote, 6,328 voters were against creating representative districts to elect some/all councilmembers with 5,021 in favor and 982 having no opinion.
The wait for the official results
According to Rockville’s website, votes will be certified and announced Nov. 14.
Rockville saw a slight increase in voter participation as 12,637 cast their ballots compared to 12,213 in the 2019 elections for a 3.47% increase. Rockville allowed voters to vote three different ways, by mail-in ballot, drop-boxes and voting centers that were open on Election Day.
Polls at City Hall and Thomas Farm Community Center opened at 7 a.m. on Nov. 7 and closed at 8 p.m. Five drop-boxes were also available to voters to drop-off their ballots in secure ballot drop-boxes.
Voters began receiving ballots as of Oct. 13, however there were reports of some voters having issues with mail-in voting such as some receiving ballots in the mail late and technical issues with the tracking of ballots that had been mailed-in.
The Rockville Board of Supervisors of Election issued a statement on the ballot tracking issues which said, “This technical issue has not affected the integrity of the city’s election process. This issue affected only the ability of voters to track their ballots through the United States Postal Service. The issue had no effect on the actual delivery of ballots.”
Those who want to confirm that their ballot has been received by the city can visit this webpage and select “Ballots Received” to search their name on a list.
A swearing-in ceremony for the new city leaders will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 19 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Drive. The council will have its first meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at City Hall, 111 Maryland Ave.
Rockville holds its elections every four years, with the mayor and council serving four-year terms. The next election will be held in 2027.