Rockville will review its city charter for potential changes

Rockville will review its charter

11-member commission will look at size of council, term limits, and more

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Rockville will review its city charter for the first time since 2012.

An 11-member commission will look at possible updates in several areas, including whether to expand the size of the council and change term limits of the mayor and council.

On Monday evening, the Rockville City Council is expected to approve more than 20 specific topics for the city’s Charter Review Commission to study.

Election-related topics include:
● The size of the council (currently mayor and four council members)
● Term limits of the mayor and council
● Staggered terms of council members
● Representative districts and boundaries for districts
● A possible “resign to run” provision
● The process for filling mayor or council vacancies
● Alternative voting systems
● Translation of election information in various languages
● Alternative methods of methods of advertising the election
● The size of the Board of Supervisors of Elections
● Terms for members of the Board of Supervisors of Elections
● The appointment process for the Board of Supervisors of Elections
● Duties of the Board of Supervisors of Elections
● Topics raised during the vote-by-mail election, such as ballot harvesting
● Provisions that may increase voter turnout

Additional topics include:
● The mayor and council’s authority to update or add authority as needed, such as appointing a Board of Health and establishing quarantine regulations
● Provisions regarding urban renewal
● Methods of advertising public hearings
● Emergency and/or expedited legislation
● The roles and responsibilities of the three charter appointed officials, and possible conflicts with the administrative responsibility of the city manager
● Regulations on firearms
● Upkeep and maintenance of sidewalks

The council created the list of topics at its Oct. 19 meeting. It agreed to add the option that the commission also can choose what it wants to review, which could possibly include none of the council’s listed topics.

The city is required to review its charter every 10 years.

Council Member Mark Pierzchala said at the Oct. 19 meeting that some topics are ambiguous.

“I’m very comfortable with that because it is then up to the Charter Review Commission. … Philosophically speaking, we could really constrict what they could discuss, or we can have some broad points that give them a little bit of freedom to come up with some creativity,” he said.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton agreed that the commission should have freedom.

“I think we also want to make sure that the Charter Review Commission has the opportunity to dig into something that they may have thought of that we haven’t thought of, so not to [constrict] their review to only these things that we’ve mentioned this evening,” she said.

On Oct. 19, the City Council approved 11 members to the city’s Charter Review Commission. Their terms will end in June 2022, when a review and report is due.

The appointed members are:
● Fred Evans (chair)
● John Becker
● Dave Gottesman
● Harold Hodges
● Jack Kelly
● Krishna Kumar
● Anita Powell
● Judy Rudolph
● Izola Shaw
● Marissa Valeri
● Robert Wright

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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