VIDEO: Onley Launches City Council Bid
Longtime civic activist calls for 'foster[ing] relationships' and 'smart tax growth.'
Calling for greater citizen participation in city government—and greater outreach to the community through government—longtime community activist Virginia Onley formally announced on Sunday that she is a candidate for the Rockville City Council.
“I believe that you need a government that’s all-inclusive, that includes everyone and where you have your say,” she said from the plaza of the Americana Centre condominiums, where she serves on the board of directors.
Onley highlighted her civic experience and her 35-year career at IBM. “I think that has prepared me for budgeting and making good, sound business decisions,” she said. “I will make these same decisions for you on the Rockville City Council.”
Onley campaign manager Janet Wilson said she has come to know Onley through their time together on the Americana Centre board, where Wilson and Onley have each served as president.
“I’ve seen that she has a lot of credibility, she puts her personal desires aside for what’s right for our community, and I think she will do the same for the City of Rockville,” Wilson said.
Onley is chairwoman of the Rockville Housing Enterprises Board of Commissioners. She has been a presence on Rockville commissions for most of the past two decades, including stints as chairwoman of the city’s senior citizen’s, compensation and human rights commissions.
Onley ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2009, garnering 9.79 percent of the vote (2,225 votes) and finishing sixth out of 10 candidates.
The city holds nonpartisan elections in odd-numbered years for the four seats on the council and for mayor. This year’s election will take place Nov. 8. Onley is one of eight candidates running for the council.
Onley said that she wants to return “respect and decorum for one another” to the council.
“Sometimes our meetings are just all over the place,” she said. “They are ‘til midnight. And it doesn’t need to be that if we get people who are elected who have the city’s best interest in mind.”
She called for better relationships between the city and “community partners like Montgomery College, like Montgomery County and the state of Maryland.”
On the economic front, Onley called for “smart tax growth.” She cited the city’s success in attracting Choice Hotels International to Town Center as an example of one way to attract revenue that will keep citizens’ taxes down while drawing other businesses to Rockville.
Onley does not support using taxpayer dollars to cover operating revenue shortfalls at RedGate Golf Course.
“I will only support RedGate if we are able to come up with a viable plan for RedGate to survive as a financially-independent golf course,” she said in prepared remarks sent to Rockville Patch that were not ultimately part of her announcement speech. “I feel hopeful that there are things we can do to get RedGate back on track.”
She said that she does not support turning the course over to developers. The course “should remain a golf course or be preserved as a recreational space for family use,” she said.
Onley is running as “an independent candidate,” she said.
“Talk to me. I’m listening. I want to know what’s on your mind,” Onley said.