Incumbent Rockville Mayor Seeking Third Term

Incumbent Rockville Mayor Seeking Third Term

Bridget Donnell Newton forms slate with incumbent council member Feinberg and three newcomers

| Published:
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From left, Kuan Lee, Suzan Pitman, Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, Council member Beryl Feinberg and Monique Ashton

Dan Schere

Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton is running for a third term and is forming a slate with four City Council candidates.

Newton, 61, was elected to the Rockville City Council in 2009 and has served two terms as mayor since 2013. She made the formal announcement Friday night at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Rockville.

Newton said her goals for another four-year-term include finding a final solution for the former RedGate Golf Course site in east Rockville, adding more green space to the city, making progress on the rehabilitation of King Farm Farmstead and fostering the city’s partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools.

“I’m not looking to change things as much as I’m looking to continue to enable the city to reach the potential that puts quality of life and inclusion and safety for all in the forefront,” she said.

Election Day is Nov. 5, and this is the first city election to be conducted entirely by mail.

Newton will be running with a slate of four candidates for the council. The candidates are incumbent council member Beryl Feinberg; Monique Ashton, a public relations executive and coordinator of the Richard Montgomery High School Cluster; Suzan Pitman, formerly the president of the East Rockville Civic Association; and Kuan Lee, an attorney and board member of the Rockville Sister Cities Corp.

Ashton was one of three finalists for a vacancy on the five-member council that occurred last November following the election of Julie Palakovich Carr to the state legislature. None of the finalists were selected to fill the vacancy because none garnered a necessary three-vote majority from council members.

Opposing Newton in November will be fellow council member Virginia Onley, who announced earlier this month that she would be running for mayor, along with a four-candidate slate of her own, which includes incumbent council member Mark Pierzchala. Onley said the council’s inability fill Palakovich Carr’s vacancy was part of her motivation for running.

No other candidates have filed for the mayor’s office in the city of 68,000. The filing deadline for the nonpartisan race is Sept. 5.

Newton, who has often found herself on the opposite side ideologically from Onley and Pierzchala, disputed the notion that the council failed to attempt to resolve the vacancy, noting that she had requested the council discuss the matter in closed session.

“In fact, I and council member Feinberg tried diligently to talk about how we as the elected were going to go forward, and we were repeatedly shut out of that process,” Newton said.

Newton said she hopes that by running with a slate, the council members elected next fall will be able to better form a consensus on key issues.

“There have been several lost opportunities in the city due to the fact that people don’t always work together,” she said.

This election will be conducted in a vote-by-mail format, in which voters will be able to either mail their marked ballots, or drop them off at City Hall. Voters may either vote for candidates individually or vote for an entire slate.

Newton said the next five months on the council will be a challenge, with council members running against each other.

“I think that’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to be incumbent on us to put politics aside and do things in the best interest,” she said.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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