Black forum urges mayor to name Gilmer as stand-in

September 09, 1992|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

A coalition of black leaders is calling on Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins to appoint Alderman Samuel Gilmer acting mayor while Mr. Hopkins recuperates from heart surgery.

The Black Political Forum issued a statement yesterday faulting the mayor, a Democrat, for selecting a Republican instead of a fellow party member to temporarily take his place.

Three days before he underwent triple bypass heart surgery, Mr. Hopkins appointed Alderman John Hammond, a staunch conservative representing Ward 1, as acting mayor. The political organization argued that the mayor should have chosen Mr. Gilmer, a black man and the City Council's ranking Democrat.

"This shows a total lack of sensitivity," said Lewis A. Bracy, chairman of the forum. "When push comes to shove, he didn't appoint an African-American, and he didn't appoint his friend. If race wasn't the purpose, why couldn't he entrust the city for 30 days to Sam Gilmer?"

Mr. Hopkins is recovering at home after being released Monday from Washington Hospital Center. He was operated on for nearly six hours Sept. 1 after a fainting spell led doctors to discover he had a blocked coronary artery. He did not accept phone calls yesterday.

Michael Mallinoff, the city administrator, dismissed the criticism as "a sad example of the state of American politics."

He said the mayor rotates the largely ceremonial position among the eight aldermen when he is called out of town or is on vacation. Mr. Gilmer served as acting mayor in July when Mr. Hopkins took a trip with his wife and children, Mr. Mallinoff said.

The city administrator had a message for the forum and opponents of Mr. Hopkins. "I talked to the mayor today," Mr. Mallinoff said, "and for those vultures circling above, he's going to give them hell when he gets back."

Mr. Gilmer, who at 70 is the council's oldest member, has served three terms and now represents the Third Ward. He could not be reached for comment.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, said he believes the mayor should have followed tradition and appointed a Democrat for the post, particularly because Mr. Hopkins is likely to be gone for at least three weeks. He pointed out that when Republican Mayor Gus Akerland died in office a decade ago, the ranking Republican alderman, John T. Chambers, replaced him.

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