Thursday, April 17, 2014 5:25 PM
Published on: Thursday, October 03, 2013
By Holden Wilen
ROCKVILLE – Two additional candidates have thrown their hats into the ring for city council, bringing the total number of candidates to eight for next month’s election.
Don Hadley, an attorney who also serves as Rockville’s Planning Commission chair, made the decision to run. The other new candidate is Claire Marcuccio Whitaker, an assistant U.S. attorney and younger sister of current mayor Phyllis Marcuccio.
Hadley, who lives in the city’s west end, said he never originally planned on running, but he did not want to see the Team Rockville slate go unopposed. The slate is led by current Councilman Mark Pierzchala, who is running for mayor, and Councilman Tom Moore, who is running for reelection. The other members of Team Rockville are Julie Palakovich Carr, Virginia Onley and Beryl Feinberg.
With only one set of candidates, Hadley said the citizens would only get one point of view. He seeks a seat at the table to share his perspective of moderated, smart growth for city development.
“I think that the people who have been running as a slate, their vision of the city is for a form of development that is meant to optimize the density that would go into our remaining space,” Hadley said. “I believe that that is wrong for our neighborhoods. I think that we can develop in a way that is more dense where it makes sense and considerably less dense where the value of the neighborhood predominates.”
One of the main issues of importance to Hadley is the city’s adequate public facilities ordinance and standards. Hadley said he supports preserving the city’s APFO.
Whitaker, who announced her candidacy on Sept. 26 at Al Carbon, said she did not want to get involved in politics while her sister was still in office. She eventually decided to run because she too is concerned about the future of the APFO and the changes proposed by Moore and Councilman John Hall.
“The APFO is strong now, but there is a move to weaken it and have waivers go into effect,” Whitaker said. “That has been a major reason for coming into the race.”
In attendance at Whitaker’s event were Maryland Sen. Jennie Forehand (D-17); current Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton, who is running for mayor; and members of the Planning Commission, including Hadley.
Forehand pledged her support because she thinks Whitaker will bring a sense of civility to the council.
“(Whitaker) can walk in the shoes of so many different people,” Forehand said. “She can understand what other people’s needs are.”
Former mayor Steve VanGrack also attended Whitaker’s event and said he supports her because not only does he think she is a great person, but also because of her positions on various issues. VanGrack agreed with Forehand that Whitaker will bring civility to the council. He also said he supports Whitaker because she supports all of the recommended changes to the charter by the Charter Review Commission. Finally, he said supports her because she willing to deal with personnel issues in the city.
“I hope you will support her for not only the person that she is, but also for the positions she has taken,” VanGrack said to the audience. “If you do that, I am certain she will be a member of the city council.”
Other issues of importance, Whitaker said, are debt management and communication with other jurisdictions. She said she would work more closely with Gaithersburg and try to learn from them about how the city has managed to have no debt. Meanwhile, she said she would vote against any increase in debt for Rockville unless it reduced the interest rate.
Hadley said his main concerns are land use and the city’s development vision. However, he also said one of his main focuses is making sure the city is citizen-based. The mayor and council, he said, need to engage the public. He also said members of the mayor and council need to be more open-minded.
“I do not profess to know all the answers. When something comes up the first thing I am going to do is start going in from a basic citizen level. I usually come to the table with my beliefs and my thoughts, but there is a kind of dialogue and rich mixture of voices and a great interchange,” Hadley said. “There has to be a balance between not leaving your principles behind at the door but leaving some of your preconceptions behind. You should be willing to have them challenged and if you sustain them fine, and if you do not, then you learn something. I think we need a much better connection with the citizens.”
The election will take place on Nov. 5.