Rockville Elects First Person of Color as Mayor

November 8, 2023

Montgomery Community Media

Councilmember Monique Ashton is the new mayor of the City of Rockville, according to unofficial results.

She will be the city’s first mayor of color and succeeds outgoing Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton.

Ashton received 7,190 votes, which was almost 59% of the votes cast. Her opponent, Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, received 5,006 votes, or 40.88%. There were 51 write-in votes.

The six city council candidates receiving the most votes were Kate Fulton, Adam Van Grack, Izola (Zola) Shaw, incumbent David Myles, Barry Jackson and Marissa Valeri.

Two of the four nonbinding referendum questions were supported by the voters.

While Maryland State Sen. Cheryl Kagan was pleased that four of the winning council candidates she had endorsed were elected, she was upset with the ballot distribution and vote counting, calling it “a hot mess.”

“There was a lack of attention to detail,” said Kagan, whose district includes Rockville and Gaithersburg.

When a voter from the Bainbridge community came to vote Tuesday, she told officials that she had not received a ballot. The Rockville officials told her that was because her community was not in the City of Rockville, according to Kagan.

They discovered their mistake, but that meant between 300 and 400 homes had not received ballots in the mail, Kagan said. “That is inexcusable. There are a lot of flaws, a lot to be concerned about.”

Kagan said she would prefer Montgomery County take over elections for the city.

The winning councilmembers were chosen out of 12 candidates and will serve a four-year term, as will the newly elected mayor.

Fulton received 14.47% of the votes, followed by Van Grack, who received 13.05%. Shaw received 12.27%. Jackson had 9.66% followed by Valeri with 9.64%, according to unofficial results.

Shaw was endorsed by Progressive Maryland and was the only one of the 12 candidates endorsed by that group.

Van Grack thanked the voters “for trusting me,” and said in statement that he was excited to service in the community he grew up in. “Now the work begins and I am ready to hit the ground running for the people of Rockville on Day One.”

There were four referendum questions, although the results are nonbinding and do not necessarily mean a change in Rockville law.

Voters did not support changing the voting age to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to participate by a vote of 8,593 to 3.542. Nor did they favor residents who are not citizens to vote. 7,857 residents were against this change, and 4.150 supported it.

Voters overwhelmingly opted to limit elected officials to three consecutive terms by a vote 9,162 to 2,761. They opted not to create representative districts to elect some or all councilmembers by a vote of 6,328 to 5,021.

According to unofficial results, 12,637 residents voted, which is slightly more than the 12,213 who cast votes in 2019.

Official results are expected to be certified Nov. 14. An inauguration ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 19 at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Drive.