Thursday, May 23, 2013 1:42 AM
Published on: Thursday, September 27, 2012
By Daryl Buchanan
ROCKVILLE-If any Rockville citizens had concerns, comments, or thoughts regarding potential changes to the City’s Charter next month will be your chance to have your voice heard in a series of town hall meetings.
The Charter Review Commission has been working since early this year on researching whether Rockville wants or needs changes to the City Charter. According to Steven VanGrack, Commission Chair, the group has been discussing possible changes to the Mayor and Council and also the election process within the city.
“We have been talking a lot about length of terms, number of council members, election years, geographical districts, new types of voting, whether the Mayor should be full time. So there is a lot here that could be changed if the City sees fit,” said VanGrack.
“We have the town hall meetings scheduled and we really want to have the public come out and tell us what they think. We are not looking to reform the entire government, but we want the community to give input on what they think is good for the city.”
The Commission also put together a list of goals for themselves as they set upon a path that could see big changes come to the city. The goals are as follows:
To advance recommendations to the Mayor and Council regarding the provisions of the City Charter as to the electoral process and conditions of holding office that will:
• Participation: Increase citizen participation at all levels of City government, in particular in the election of the Mayor and Council,
• Responsiveness: Promote City governance that listens, represents, responds and is accountable to the citizens, communities, challenges and progress of the City,
• Effectiveness: Effectuate City governance that reflects and serves the needs of a growing and diverse community within a growing and diverse region, in an equitable and inclusive manner, and
• Leadership: Encourage, bring forth, develop and facilitate citizen leadership.
The town hall meetings are scheduled to begin in October and all begin at 7:00 p.m. Citizens that want to speak will be asked to sign up before the start of the meetings. The following is a list of the meeting times and dates:
• Tuesday, October 2, 2012- Rockville Senior Center, 1150 Carnation Drive
• Tuesday, October 9, 2012- Rockshire Community Center, 2351 Wootton Parkway
• Wednesday, October 17, 2012- Lincoln Park Community Center, 357 Frederick Ave.
• Wednesday, October 24, 2012- Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave.
• Tuesday, October 30, 2012- Twinbrook Community Center, 12920 Twinbrook Parkway
Some of the potential changes the Commission is seeking public involvement on is a variety of issues. An increase of Mayor and Council terms from two to four years, increasing the council size to seven, odd numbered election years, online voting, at-large council members, and election dates and times.
VanGrack says there is a lot on the plate, but each issue is important because the city has had similar rules for quite a long time now. “Rockville needs a lot of attention. We’ve had the same rules when the city had a population of 2,000 to 3,000 people; now it’s 60,000 people,” said VanGrack.
“Do we want to consider a full time Mayor or part time? Or maybe a bigger council is an option people would like to see. Are two year terms long enough or should they be lengthened to four,” asked VanGrack. “These are a few of the questions we’re asking and we want ideas from the people of Rockville. We want to know what Rockville has to say.”
VanGrack is scheduled to speak before the Mayor and Council on October 1 the night before the first town hall to give an update to the City. The Commission is scheduled to present their findings to the Mayor and Council on December 21. More information on the City Charter Commission can be found at www.rockvillemd.gov/government/commissions/charter.