Republicans, Democrats gird for Annapolis mayoral primaries Hopkins seen likely to defeat Jones

September 19, 1993|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Staff Writer

Incumbent Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins has frustrated black leaders and angered police union members, but he appears likely to overcome the challenge of political neophyte Sylvanus Jones in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Mr. Jones, 63, a retired federal employee who runs a consulting business, has staged a credible campaign, attacking the city's fiscal management and promising to lower taxes, political observers say. But Mr. Hopkins retains the solid support of senior citizens and longtime residents, the people most likely to vote in the primary.

"Everyone knows that [Mr. Hopkins] is a good, kind, compassionate man. That gives people a secure feeling," said Roger W. "Pip" Moyer, a former mayor and deputy director of the Annapolis Housing Authority.

Mr. Moyer predicted that less than one third of the city's 9,000 registered Democrats would turn out Tuesday, helping the mayor.

Mr. Hopkins, 68, said he is seeking a second term to complete work left undone in his first four years. He said he wants to open a senior citizens center and oversee the re-bricking of Main Street.

The mayor said that he is proud of accomplishments made during his first term, including the creation of a recycling program, the completion of the Gott's Court parking garage, the opening of a visitor's center, the rebuilding of State Circle and the staffing of a third ambulance for the city.

Mr. Moyer added that perhaps the mayor's most important accomplishment was keeping the city financially solvent during the recession.

But the mayor's handling of the city's finances has been the target of Mr. Jones' attacks. The challenger said he has found numerous ways to improve fiscal management that would allow him to offer each resident a $300 property tax break. He said the city has lost some $10.5 million by failing to obtain a fair tax differential from the county and another $9 million because the county failed to pass on to the city cigarette tax revenue from 1969 to 1992.

fTC Mr. Jones also plans to expand recycling, provide more educational opportunities for pre-school children and build a recreational complex at Truxton Park.

A former adjudicator with the U.S. State Department, Mr. Jones has lived in Annapolis for 18 years. He is chairman of the city's Transportation Advisory Board, edits a community newsletter and is treasurer of the Annapolis City Democratic Central Committee. He has written reports on immigration law, was cited for helping expedite passport approvals and holds a patent on a hubcap locking device.

Although a victory by Mr. Jones on Tuesday would be an upset, no one is willing to count him out.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, predicted Annapolis' black community will play an important role in the election. Mr. Jones is the first African-American to run for mayor, but he has not campaigned on race issues.

Even so, many black leaders have been displeased with Mr. Hopkins' performance. He offended some minorities early in his term by making a disparaging comment about mixed marriages when discussing racial quotas. The mayor later apologized.

Last spring, he passed over Sam Gilmer, a black alderman and senior Democrat on the City Council, to appoint John R. Hammond, a white, Republican alderman, to act as mayor when Mr. Hopkins was hospitalized for heart surgery.

Blacks also have been frustrated with the long wait to find a use for the old Wiley H. Bates School, Anne Arundel's former black high school that has been closed since 1981.

Jean Creek, head of the Bates School Foundation, said the city needs to increase its financial commitment to the project and faulted planning and zoning officials for their handling of the site.

Ms. Creek, who also is president of the county chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the mayor should provide the leadership to ensure the renovation of the Bates School, the building of more affordable housing and the implementation of job training programs. She said whoever is elected should also work to create new business opportunities in the city and the promotion of minorities within government.

The NAACP will evaluate the candidates after the primaries, but will not endorse anyone, she said.

Mr. Hopkins also faces the potential ire of downtown residents angry that he voted to allow Buddy's Crabs 'n' Ribs, a Main Street restaurant, to stay open until 2 a.m. and serve liquor without food.

He might even find it hard to garner the police vote. The police have been working without a contract since July 1 because the city and union have failed to reach agreement on promotions and disability pay.

C. James Lowthers, secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400, which represents the police, said that while the members are frustrated with the city's leadership, they will not endorse any mayoral candidate until after the primaries.

Mr. Hopkins also will have to hope voters forgive him for gaffes he committed during his first term. He was cited for an ethics violation when it was learned that he had given parking permits to five Navy midshipmen to pay off a bet he lost on a football game. The mayor also was criticized for ordering an ambulance to take Hilda Mae Snoops, Gov. William Donald Schaefer's longtime companion, to a Baltimore hospital on a nonemergency call.

Mr. Hopkins, a retired sports editor, served 24 years on the City Council. He ousted Dennis M. Callahan from office in an upset primary victory in 1989 and went on to defeat Larry Vincent in the general election.

If Mr. Hopkins survives Tuesday, as expected, he will face even tougher challenges in the general election where he is likely to meet his two former opponents: Mr. Callahan, who is running as an independent, and Mr. Vincent.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.