Rockville mayoral candidate Doug Duncan has single-handedly transformed Rockville politics by conducting the city's first smear campaign.

Partisan workers have been a part of Rockville politics since 1982, when Mr. Duncan brought segments of the Montgomery County Democratic partisan organization into Rockville elections for the first time. In general, however, Rockville political discussion has been free, open and fair. Each year, our elections have become more sophisticated, have involved larger and more complex campaign organizations and have become more costly. Until this year, however, the fundamentals of electioneering had remained basically unchanged for more than 30 years.

For the past six months, Mr. Duncan has carried out a cynical and unremitting media campaign based on mudslinging and character assassination. Mr. Duncan's campaign has avoided discussing issues; instead, it has consisted almost entirely of unsubstantiated attacks on Mayor Van Grack. Mr. Van Grack has discussed his vision for the city's future and how he would deal with its problems, while Mr. Duncan has responded with fabrications and smears.

Rockville voters had better take a look at what's happening in their city. If they are complacent, they will find they have lost the traditions of civility and tolerance that have made their city great.

ALAN B. KUTZ Rockville

It is disheartening to see the Duncan political machine conducting a dishonest and contrived smear campaign in the press. It is sad that Mr. Duncan has resorted to name-calling and vicious character assaults while avoiding any straightforward discussion of the issues. I would rather hear catchy, upbeat slogans and stimulating debate than meaningless terms such as "blow-dried" and "slick."

Rockville voters deserve integrity, maturity and substance from their elected officials. I hope they will get these things.