senior features editor
Springfield has Mayor Quimby. Quahog has Mayor West and McDonaldland has Mayor McCheese. Unfortunately, the only way students will be able to talk to these TV mayors may be through some great dream or hallucination. Then again, they are in luck, because one of the stars of local channel Rockville TV 11’s city council meetings, Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton, is always eager to hear the ideas of her constituents.
Ironically, the major catalyst for Newton’s life behind politics was when she was watching the very channel back in 2009. “My daughter Meg came downstairs that night from doing homework because she heard me loudly fighting with someone. What she saw was me frustratedly yelling at the TV while I was watching the city council meeting,” Newton said. “I realized then that if I was this passionate about something, I should get involved.”
Once a Parent Teacher Association president and a Bible school leader, now Newton has a hefty workload and works at least 60 hours a week as Mayor of Rockville. “I have 7,900 emails in my inbox and our brief book last week was 1,100 pages. I like to do one thing at a time, but it’s hard to keep up with all the paperwork and opportunities that comes through our city government,” Newton said.
The students here may not be aware of her presence, but Newton is especially concerned with the affairs of this school. Specifically, she has worked with people like substitute teacher and activist Randy Alton in trying to incentivize developers to convert the empty Rockshire buildings into a fun hangout spot for students. “Safety is also one of my main concerns for Wootton,” Newton said. “I can’t even comprehend why that pole on the bridge between Frost and Wootton is there. I want to get rid of it so that pedestrians and bikers can actually have room to move without crashing into each other.”
Although she only currently holds domain over the city of Rockville, Newton hopes that someday the ideas that she has for the future of secondary education can be implemented across the country. “It’s getting harder and harder to find enough land to build specialized high schools like Edison, the technology school in Silver Spring, so we need to find a way to build more institutions that will put more emphasis on training our next generation of scientists. We need to get away from that framework of 3,000 kids on a high school campus because we’re not keeping up with other countries in biotech and cybersecurity fields,” Newton said.
On the rare occasion that she gets downtime from the full days of her part-time job, Newton seizes the opportunity to do activities like gardening, horseback riding and reading. “I used to have season tickets for the Caps, but now I don’t have that kind of time anymore,” Newton said. “It makes me hope that at least kids can be kids while they’re in this great stage in life, and aren’t so bogged down with schoolwork.”