• 2022-2023 CSPA Crown Award Finalist
The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

The Student News Site of Thomas S. Wootton High School

Common Sense

Rockville elections brings new leadership, plans for more youth involvement in government

Voters+enter+the+polls+at+Rockville+City+Hall+on+Nov.+7+to+vote+for+the+next+mayor+and+six+city+council+members.
Photo by Elizabeth Mehler
Voters enter the polls at Rockville City Hall on Nov. 7 to vote for the next mayor and six city council members.

With the retirement of the current mayor, citizens were given the opportunity to elect entirely new leadership for the city by voting in the 2023 Rockville elections on Nov. 7.

Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton served as mayor of Rockville since 2013 before deciding to retire this year. After 10 years in office, two former city council members attempted to fill Newton’s role as leader of the city.

Monique Ashton has served on the city council since 2019 and ran a mayoral campaign prioritizing smart economic growth, advanced environment and public safety, and inclusive engagement of Rockville residents. Mark Pierzchala has served on the city council since 2007 and his campaign focused on effective community policing, increased housing, and Town Center improvements.

On Nov. 14 the city’s Board of Supervisors of Elections certified the results, announcing Monique Ashton won with 7,298 votes. Last year a decision was made by the city council to add two additional council member seats, so for the first time, six city council members were elected. There were 12 candidates for city council and Kate Fulton, Adam Van Grack, Izola Shaw, Marissa Valeri, and Barry Jackson were newly elected. David Myles was reelected, continuing to serve since first elected in 2019.

The ballot also included four non-binding advisory referendum questions, allowing voters to state an opinion without changing Rockville law. The questions included allowing city residents without U.S. citizenship to vote, limiting elected officials to three terms, creating representative districts to elect some or all council members, and allowing voters aged 16-17 to vote. 8,665 voters voted against lowering the voting age, and 3,601 voted in support of it, indicating it is unlikely Rockville’s voting age will be lowered in the near future. “I think a majority of the population is uneducated on local government. If a 16-year-old knows that the election is happening and wants to vote, they have most likely done more research on the candidates than most adults,” senior Leah Kaplonuvich said.

Despite youth not yet being able to vote, Ashton feels there is a need for more student involvement in government in other ways. Ashton advocated for the creation of the Youth Commission, which appointed student nominees last year [this reporter is a member]. Youth Commission members develop recommendations for the Mayor and Council about programs, policies and legislation to promote the health and well-being of young adults. While the commission has been created and members have been appointed, including three seniors from this school, they have not yet met due to the lack of a staff liaison. “We need to get that stood up, I think that will help guide a lot of recommendations to get youth involved. Their issues are our issues and we need to do better at listening to them, so I’m really looking forward to working with the youth commission,” Ashton said.

Student members of the commission have felt frustrated by the city’s inaction so far. “I would absolutely like to see the Rockville City Government start coordinating meetings of the Youth Commission. Many of us are seniors and halfway through our terms and still have not met yet,” senior and Youth Commission member Nico Dorazio said.

In addition to working with the Youth Commission, Ashton plans to create internship opportunities for students at the three public high schools in Rockville. “Our city needs to create leadership and internship opportunities, let them get involved in our local government at every level. That is something I will work to get started,” Ashton said.

Van Grack also feels passionate about youth involvement in government and plans to work alongside Ashton to make City Hall more accessible to its citizens. “I found that the elected officials in the government seem to neglect the youth. We need to actually get involved. I’ve actually reached out to a number of the government teachers in the elementary schools and junior highs and high schools, like Wootton, saying let’s get some of the government officials in to talk about what it is,” Van Grack said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Common Sense
$2000
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Thomas S. Wootton High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Elizabeth Mehler, news editor
Senior Elizabeth Mehler is an Editor-in-chief in her fourth year on Common Sense. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with friends. She hopes you find Common Sense to be both engaging and informative. You can find her on IG @elizabeth.mehler
Donate to Common Sense
$2000
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Common Sense Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *