Miss Petra

When I was a classroom teacher for at-risk students, many of whom were immigrants, I had a truly wonderful teacher’s aide who was herself an immigrant from Germany. Miss Petra had married and raised two children, and still had a green card because the immigration system is so convoluted, expensive, and difficult that she had started and stopped the process many times over. We spoke often of our students, and if she was struggling with the immigration system what must they and their families be going through?

Before the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act ended the immigration quota system, immigrants from Europe had a much easier time entering our country and obtaining citizenship than any group has had since. After Federal changes to immigration law in 1996, it has generally become even harder to obtain lawful entry into the United States.

Rockville has taken steps to create a safe, welcoming environment for immigrants, regardless of status, while balancing our relationships with County and Federal law enforcement. In addition to creating a safe and welcoming community, we need to take steps to help our immigrant neighbors without residency documents come forward and let us help them gain proper status. They shouldn’t have to rely on the whims of government for their personal security.

The divisiveness we’ve experienced over this issue makes it clear that we need to pay more attention to supporting our immigrant neighbors. Appointing a city-wide task force to evaluate the need for a Commission on immigration and inclusion of immigrants, and to decide if a staff position is needed, is a first step in meeting the level of commitment we’ve made towards a peaceful, diverse community.

My family moved to Rockville because we wanted more—more diversity, more languages, more friends from different backgrounds, more experiences, and more opportunities. We have not been disappointed. Our immigrant neighbors are an essential part of the diversity we celebrate.

Miss Petra finally obtained citizenship four years ago, with her grandchildren in attendance. It took decades and thousands of dollars.

What I’m reading:

Greenstone, Michael, and Adam Looney. “Ten Economic Facts About Immigration.” Hamilton Project, Brookings Institute, 2010, www.hamiltonproject.org/assets/legacy/files/downloads_and_links/09_immigration.pdf.

Kerr, Juliana, et al. “This Is What Immigration Reform Looks Like.” CityLab, Atlantic Monthly Group, 23 Jan. 2018, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/01/want-immigration-reform-look-to-cities/551261/.

It Takes a Village

Essential to the diversity we are rightly proud of in Rockville is the inter-generational nature of our neighborhoods. I am proud that I helped establish our Village several years ago with a very insistent mentor and friend.

East Rockville’s first Village holiday party was fun for all ages.

Today at the Rockville Senior Citizens Commission’s Candidate Forum, one of the other candidates brought up my friend and mentor, who needs a little more help than she did several years ago, and inadvertently described my son and some of the things he helps her with. I’m glad he appreciates my family’s commitment to service. The pairing of teenagers with senior neighbors is one of the best things that a Village can do for a neighborhood. I see the self-esteem my son has developed in part because he knows how impactful it can be to help others, and having an older friend makes him feel like a real community member. I know their visits do her good, as well, and not just because her lawn gets mowed or her snow shoveled.

Some of the specific ideas I shared this morning at the Senior Center are things we can do to foster inter-generational diversity so that we’re caring for one another at every age.

Things like:

  • Encouraging job sharing between teenagers and seniors who want a part-time job. School has become so demanding it can be hard for kids to have a job, so why not share a part-time position with a senior who can mentor them as they enter the work force.
  • Advocating with MCPS to offer yard work for seniors as a P.E. credit as other districts around the country have done.
  • Offering service-learning hours through the neighborhood Villages.

The City of Rockville is rightly committed to diversity, and that commitment should be reflected in how we translate diversity into inclusion both within the senior population and between the senior population and the broader community. Diverse needs don’t end at 60, and our seniors continue to have much to contribute to Rockville.

Rockville Forward Coalition at the Senior Citizens Commission public forum on October 10, 2019.

What I’m reading:

Bliss, Laura. “7 Reasons Why Aging Riders Need Better Transit.” CityLab, 4 Aug. 2017, www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/08/older-people-will-need-much-better-transit/535806/.

Goodyear, Sarah, et al. “What Does ‘Livable’ Mean to Older Americans?” CityLab, 15 May 2014, www.citylab.com/solutions/2014/04/what-does-livable-mean-older-americans/8968/.

Henkin, Nancy, and Emily Patrick. “Intergenerational: Grantmakers in Aging.” Intergenerational | Grantmakers in Aging, Grantmakers in Aging, https://www.giaging.org/issues/intergenerational-strategies/.


The ballots are out! Rockville is making history as the first city in Maryland to launch a vote-by-mail election.

Ballots back in the box same day! #voterockville @rockvilleforward!

I’m proud of our City, and I’m especially proud of my campaign. I had some of the best people I know helping, and we’ve run a very tight, fiscally responsible campaign. I made it clear to my friends and supporters at the beginning that I wanted a super-local, no outside political groups or non-profits with political affiliations campaign that respected people’s hard-earned paychecks and limited time. We did exactly that. We ran a campaign about issues focused on elevating our shared experiences and enhancing our quality of life.

I’m asking that you vote for me so that we can move Rockville forward, together.

Please return your ballots no later than November 5 at 8 p.m! If you haven’t mailed it by October 29, I strongly encourage you to take it to City Hall, 111 Maryland Avenue, and return it to the silver vote-by-mail drop box in the parking lot.

For fun, post a photo of yourself on Facebook and use #voterockville, @suzan4rockville1, @rockvilleforward.

I’ve loved meeting so many of you, and I hope we keep in touch beyond November 5!

King Farm Chronicle Election 2019 Issue, page 16: http://www.kingfarm.org/picture/188october_king_farm_chronicle_2019.pdf

Twinbrook Community Association Questionnaire: https://www.twinbrookcommunity.org/suzan-pitman-2019

City of Rockville Candidate Page: https://rockvillereports.com/suzan-pitman/