VIDEO: Hall Announces Bid for the City Council
With humor and friends, the former councilman announced his candidacy on Sunday.
Calling for a vision for Rockville and greater civility from elected officials, John Hall, who last served on the Rockville City Council in 2005, announced on Sunday that he is seeking to return to the council.
Addressing supporters at Guiseppi’s Pizza in Rockville Town Center, Hall said his campaign would focus on a “vision for Rockville’s future,” including the city’s budget and service priorities, responsible management of growth and “whether we will have the kind of responsive, open, civil, respectful government that we all deserve.”
“But the theme for this campaign may just as well be ‘Give a damn,’” Hall told the crowd. “Not ‘Get into it.’ Not ‘Get over it.’ But ‘Give a damn.’ Because if we do together, we can do a lot better.”
The city holds nonpartisan elections in odd-numbered years for the four seats on the City Council and for mayor. This year’s election will take place Nov. 8.
Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and former mayors Susan Hoffmann and Larry Giammo each spoke at the announcement in support of Hall’s election. Hoffmann served with Hall on the council and Giammo served as mayor during Hall’s two terms. Hall was first elected in 2001 and again in 2003 but did not run for reelection in 2005 in order to spend more time with his family.
Hoffman called Hall a man of “political courage” and integrity.
“When he speaks you know he means it,” Hoffmann said. “He doesn’t say different things to different groups. He remembers what he said and he keeps saying the same thing. And he was a great supporter and friend of the city when he served before and will be again.”
Giammo recalled Hall’s “good nature” as a councilman.
“He is phenomenally and always respectful of other people,” Giammo said.
Hall was thoughtful, honest, compassionate and always guided by “a foundational set of values about what’s important in the community,” Giammo said.
Most importantly, Giammo said, was “how committed [Hall] is to making Rockville an even better place.”
Hall made a point in his announcement speech of defending the city’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.
Both Giammo and Hall said that they were surprised that the ordinance—adopted in 2005—is an issue again. The APFO seeks to ensure that transportation infrastructure, public schools, fire and emergency service and water and sewer service, can sufficiently handle the impact of new development.
An APFO Committee convened in January and will report recommendations to the city’s Planning Commission next month. The committee was formed shortly after the council voted 3 to 2 in October not to amend the law and while an acrimonious struggle between the city and the county school system over two portable classrooms constructed at College Gardens Elementary School still simmered.
Hall acknowledged critics of the APFO who point to school overcrowding and traffic congestion as examples that the six-year-old ordinance that Hall helped draft isn’t working.
The city also has fire hydrants and building codes, but still experiences house fires, Hall said.
“So should we start ripping up fire hydrants and dismantling building codes too?” he said. “I don’t think so. I look at the APFO as a similar tool in the city’s repertoire to responsibly manage growth, and I am committed to its viability.”
Hall said that the recent council decision not to include a $100 homeowners tax credit, which had been included in each of the past four city budgets, had the effective of “increasing property taxes for those who can least afford to pay.” He said that he would support a tax policy that relieves the burden on low-income residents and brings commercial and residential tax revenues into a better balance.
“Without increasing anyone’s tax rate—neither commercial nor residential—but merely by supporting the business community, reducing chaotic turnover and enhancing the commercial tax base, we can better bring the budget into balance,” he said.
Hall also said he would “work to restore civility and cooperation on the City Council and to demonstrate it myself.” That includes “mutual respect in our interactions with the residents we serve, the city staff that supports the mayor and council and among the members of the council,” Hall said. “Again, we deserve no less.”