Rock,-Ashton

Age: 40

Political party or slate, if any: Rockville Forward

Current occupation and employer (if retired, list your last job): Senior vice president, FKH, Ogilvy Health and Wellness

Previous work experience (up to two previous jobs before current or last one): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health; Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, Office of Global Health Affairs, and CMS Region II Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as other unsuccessful campaigns for office: This is my first campaign for a political office, though I have held elected community advocate positions such as Cluster Coordinator representing 7 schools in Rockville; CGES PTA president; delegate, and VP of programs at Beall Elementary School

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

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

I am a committed community leader, business executive, and strong advocate for schools, services, and businesses. My family and I have lived in East and West Rockville for more than 15 years and served Rockville for more than 10 years.

As a cluster coordinator, I successfully fought to build and expand school capacity and staffing. I also lead community forums, support small businesses, and serve as a neighborhood captain. I have also served on the Rockville Adequate Public Facilities Workgroup and Pedestrian Advocacy Committee.

Professionally, I am a senior vice president with proven business and government management experience.

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

A Balanced, Strategic Approach to Development: Our city is in need of revitalization and smart growth to support economic development, while also balancing the need to ensure that we consider our city’s hometown character and infrastructure needs to protect our residents from school overcrowding, traffic congestion and pedestrian safety issues, and water, sewer, and police needs.

As new developments are proposed, I will take measures to support and attract small businesses; preserve green space; create opportunities for affordable and workforce housing near transit areas.

Protecting our schools is key in this process. We should not compromise our students and families with overcrowded schools. I will also work to ensure that our approved developments are accounted for in forecasting for growth pressures with Montgomery County Public Schools, and I will coordinate at the state and county levels to advocate for adequate school capacity and capital improvement planning.

Seniors Aging in Place: As we grow, we must also consider how we can help our seniors age in place through strong services, implementing neighborhood villages, and considering an increase to our senior tax credit.

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?I am proud of the work involved in creating the new Bayard Rustin Elementary School. The effort involved consensus building across multiple communities, listening to community needs, and working across city, county, and state government to advocate for its development.

I have also worked with the county to advocate for new staffing and improved programming in local schools. I will continue to increase coordination with the county to ensure we are planning for our future, and increase engagement with our families. I used many of the same strategies to find consensus on the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance workgroup.

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 think disagreement is expected on occasion, as long as it is civil.

In general, I would like to see more of an effort to work towards consensus building. It is important for our council members to engage in a healthy debate, utilize data analysis to examine key issues, and work harder to more deeply engage our communities in these discussions.

For example, the proposals to increase our Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance to 150 percent created a debate that pitted development vs. schools and overcrowding. I think both are needed to move our city forward, and each must consider the other.

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

The challenges faced for our municipal course, are part of the national golf landscape — roughly 200 golf courses closed in 2017. The 18-hole RedGate Golf Course was in disrepair and would have cost the city $3.2 million to restore. The private management of the course did not perform well.

I would like to see part of the land maintained for recreation and green space for our community. We could also consider a portion of it to use as an amphitheater, veterans’ housing, sports space for youth and seniors. We need better access to senior services in East Rockville.

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

We need more action. 1) I’ll work with FRIT to proactively attract diverse businesses that meet the needs of our residents 2) and better connect to potential customers like the 15,000 Montgomery College students. We have thousands of cars crossing 355 and the signage to showcase our Center is limited. 3) New projects such as Duball II will bring new customers (400 units: 250 apartments and 150 affordable senior units) 4) I would increase the visibility and improve wayfinding. 5) I’ve met with businesses and Rockville Chamber of Commerce who want free parking after 5 for customers.