Rock,-Hedrick

Age: 37

Political party or slate, if any: Team Rockville

Current occupation and employer (if retired, list your last job): Senior financial analyst, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)

Previous work experience (up to two previous jobs before current or last one): Ph.D. in political science, Rice University; Economic development consultant, Econometrica Inc.

Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as other unsuccessful campaigns for office): First-time candidate

Campaign contact information (website, email, Facebook, Twitter, other):

1. Why are you the most qualified to hold this position?

I have been an active volunteer for Rockville since my family moved here. I am the vice chair of Rockville Housing Enterprises, a former Executive Committee member of Twinbrook Community Association, and a member of the Boards and Commissions Task Force. I have a professional background in housing and economic development, as well as two young daughters and a vested interest in the future of their hometown.

Finally, our council needs new ideas and input. Currently, no one on the council lives east of Rockville Pike or has school-age children, perspectives desperately needed on the council, that I would provide.

2. What are the top two issues in this campaign? What specific ideas do you have to address them?

My top issue is job creation in Rockville. Many residents like myself commute an hour-plus to jobs in D.C. or Virginia. We can do more to encourage job creation here in Rockville.

Rockville has many things successful organizations look for, including skilled residents, educational opportunities, and transportation infrastructure. What’s missing are places for businesses to locate and the support that encourages local small businesses to grow. Successful businesses not only employ residents, but also contribute to the local economy and tax base.

Second, housing affordability is an ongoing challenge in Rockville. We need to address the fact that many potential residents are unable to find affordable housing within the city. Specifically, I think the city should be more active in pursuing naturally occurring affordable housing.

For example, several years ago Rockville Housing Enterprises (RHE) purchased Fireside Apartments, using a federal tax-credit program. This preserved 234 affordable units for renters, with half operated as subsidized housing and half as “market rate.” Since RHE is a mission-based public housing authority, the “market rate” units are not priced significantly above the affordable units. Broadening this approach would ensure the long-term operation and stability of rental properties as affordable housing.

3. What has been your biggest accomplishment in office? If you have not held office, what is your biggest accomplishment that has prepared you to hold office? 

This is my first campaign, but I think it’s important for younger residents to become involved in local government. In fact, I was a finalist for the recent vacancy on the council and I also was endorsed by Run for Something, an organization that encourages young candidates to run for state and local offices.

I have been involved in the Rockville community since I moved here in 2014, including as a vice chair of the Rockville Housing Enterprises. In that role, I assisted with the aforementioned refinancing of the $54 million Fireside project that preserved 234 units of affordable housing.

4. Have the current mayor and/or council taken any actions with which you disagreed? If so, what is the most significant one and what would you have done instead? 

I disagreed with the current Mayor and Council’s decision not to fill the vacancy left by Councilmember Palakovich Carr this year. I was one of the top three finalists (of 22 candidates) and I received the most votes in support of my candidacy.

However, I was disappointed in the council’s decision to abandon the process and not fill the seat. The council did not have a process in place to fill the seat, absent a majority vote (of four members), which was symptomatic of a larger cooperation and compromise issue, which I hope to help rectify as an elected official.

5. What went wrong with RedGate Golf Course? How should the property be used next?

RedGate suffered from poor management and competition from nearby courses. However, this offers an opportunity for Rockville to create something truly special.

I hope RedGate becomes a capstone to the Rockville park system. There are approximately 40-45 acres that are topographically undevelopable and should be retained as greenspace and tree cover. I also want to explore recreational facilities for the underserved east side of Rockville, like a dog park, splash pad, and athletic fields. Finally, to ensure the financial sustainability of the park, the section that adjoins existing commercial areas (on Gude and Taft) could be used as commercial property.

6. How would you describe the city’s progress in revitalizing Rockville Town Center? Would you do anything else or instead?

Progress on Town Center has been halting and slow and we need to do more. Town Center was never meant to stand on its own. We must continue to ensure the surrounding areas turn over appropriately.

As the ULI study showed, we have too much retail space and not enough residential. We are also missing other commercial space like doctors’ offices, law practices, and other professional services to bring foot traffic. Lastly, we need to address parking (I propose a free two-hour parking pilot program) and pedestrian safety around the Town Center, to ensure everyone can safely access it.