Three candidates, all well-known in the city, are running to be the next mayor of Gaithersburg. The position is up for grabs because Mayor Sidney Katz was elected to the Montgomery County Council in 2014. He resigned as mayor in order to step up to the County Council. Councilman Jud Ashman was chosen by the City Council to fill the mayor’s position for the remainder of Mayor Katz’s term.
Three-way election races for one seat are inherently unpredictable. Even a candidate receiving few votes could be enough to tip the outcome to one of the other two candidates.
I believe that all three candidates are well-qualified, based on gravitas, maturity, and service to the people of the city in a variety of roles. All three have excellent personal knowledge and understanding of the city of Gaithersburg, its people, government and issues. I can see any one of the three winning and being a good mayor. However, they offer quite distinct perspectives and priorities.
Voters should understand that the powers of the mayor are quite limited under the Council-City Manager form of government. The City Council selects the City Manager, and the City Manager presents a budget and runs the day-to-day business of the city, subject to approval and policies of the Council. The City Council has the power to remove the City Manager and appoint a new City Manager at any time.
The three candidates for mayor, in alphabetical order:
- Jud Ashman www.votejud.com — Ashman, 44, has served seven years on the City Council, and one year as interim mayor. He is founder and chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival. He has been active in the Orchard Place Homeowner’s Association and is a former president of Brown Station Elementary School PTA. He owns a Web design company. “As the Founder and Chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival, I spearheaded the movement to brand our City as a Cultural Destination. We have achieved great momentum on that front and I can’t wait to build on it!”
- Darline Bell-Zuccarelli — Bell-Zuccarelli, 54, has served the community as a member of the Washington Grove Fire Department, specializing in hazardous materials. She has been a leader of several community organizations designed to help young people, especially girls and young women, with an emphasis on motivating students to continue their educations. She is an accountant, and controller, The Arc of Montgomery County. “I am running for Mayor of Gaithersburg for one reason. The citizens of Gaithersburg are being ignored and it is time our wishes for our city are included in the decisions by our city representatives.”
- Henry Marraffa www.marraffa4mayor.com — Marraffa, 77, is the longest-serving member of the City Council (six terms). He has worked to promote building of new communities including Kentlands, Washingtonian RIO, Crown Farm, and Watkins Mill. He has also been active for many years in the National League of Cities and the Maryland Municipal League. He has served on the Gaithersburg Planning Commission and many local boards and committees. He is a building contractor (retired) and has worked on many significant projects locally and nationwide. “I will fight for sustainable growth areas, especially Lake Forest and Olde Town. I will work to bring transportation solutions to the city; the Corridor Cities Transit way, the Hi-speed bus down Frederick Ave, the 1270 interchange at Watkins Mill. I will help to improve the Frederick Ave business corridor and the Fair Grounds by attracting new retail/commercial opportunities.”
You can see how much money each candidate has raised and spent as of the most recent reporting deadline at the city’s campaign finance website.
The election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3, and early voting will begin soon.
Comments are welcome, as always.
— John Hayden