Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton formally announced her candidacy for mayor Thursday, before a crowded room of supporters at VisArts in Town Square.
“I think it’s just a continuation of my vision for Rockville, my hopes for what we can do,” Newton said. “I feel that in my three and a half years on the council I made a difference. I’ve made some progress and I’d like to continue that.”
Crowded into the gallery space, supporters sipped pink lemonade and ate cupcakes as they shook hands with the mayoral hopeful. In her speech, Newton joked about reusing old campaign materials—some people wore stickers that said "Newton for Mayor"—though “Mayor” was handwritten beneath “City Council,” which was scratched out.
Among her supporters was Doug Duncan, who served on the Rockville City Council from 1982 to 1987 and was mayor of Rockville from 1987 to 1993. Duncan is running for Montgomery County Executive, a position he held from 1994 to 2006.
Maryland Del. Luiz R. S. Simmons, (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville, also came to support Newton. Councilman John Hall Jr. and council candidate Virginia Onley, who is part of the Team Rockville slate, also attended.
But one of Newton’s most vocal backers Thursday was Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio, who is not running for re-election this year.
“How many times can you leave something and feel that you’re leaving it in good hands? That is really remarkable,” Marcuccio said.
A Rockville resident since 1981, Newton was elected to the City Council in 2009 and was re-elected in 2011.
Newton said Thursday that much of what she would make a priority as mayor reflected her priorities when she ran in 2011: addressing the city’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, which is meant to ensure the city’s roadways, schools, emergency services and water and sewer services can handle the impact of development.
Newton is president of the Maryland Municipal League’s Montgomery County Chapter and is serving her third term on the MML legislative committee.
The city has benefited from Newton’s work with MML, Marcuccio said, pointing to the state’s restoration of highway user revenue.
Highway user revenue represents a portion of the city's share of gasoline tax and vehicle registrations collected by the state. The city's share peaked at $3.3 million in fiscal 2007. The fiscal 2014 state budget increased the city’s share to $1.6 million—a stark contrast to the $507,100 the city had expected to receive.
Newton said she wanted to continue focusing on relationship building, working more with Montgomery County, Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery College.
So far, only one other person has filed to run for mayor, second-term
Councilman Mark Pierzchala, who’s leading the Team Rockville slate.
Marcuccio offered a bit of advice for Newton.
“Don’t be any different than what you are,” Marcuccio said. “Listen to your citizens.”