Annapolis alderman quits to take county job

December 31, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Annapolis Alderman John R. Hammond, re-elected by an overwhelming margin last month, announced yesterday that he is resigning from the council after 16 years to become chief financial officer for Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall.

Mr. Hammond, who assumed his duties yesterday, said he deeply regretted leaving the council. Out of work since Dec. 3, he said that he tried to find a job that would have allowed him to stay on the council but that he decided his civic responsibilities had to come second.

"I felt a very strong moral commitment to explore other avenues to try to live up to what I felt was a duty to the voters. But, in the end, my family responsibilities came first," said Mr. Hammond, 45, a father of two.

Mr. Hammond, a Republican, left his job working out of his home as an executive vice president for a Long Island insurance company last month after he was offered the county job.

He accepted the county job three weeks ago, but had to step down temporarily when County Attorney Judson P. Garrett Jr. advised Mr. Neall that the state constitution prohibits anyone from holding such a county job, which pays $76,871, and a seat on the city council, which pays $8,500.

Mr. Garrett said the job of county financial officer, a position created by Mr. Neall when he merged two departments, was a public office and the state constitution prohibits holding two public offices at once.

Mr. Neall appointed Mr. Hammond as a consultant on a three-week, $4,800 contract to review the county's pension investments and evaluate the operation of its underfunded self-insurance fund.

His fee was prorated based on his $76,871 salary as head of the finance office, said a spokeswoman for Mr. Neall.

Mr. Garrett said such an arrangement passed constitutional muster because the consultant's position did not mean holding a public office with the county.

Mr. Hammond's decision leaves open the city council seat in Ward 1, which includes the historic district.

Because most of Mr. Hammond's four-year term remains, Annapolis City Attorney Paul Goetzke said, the city code requires that Mayor Al Hopkins issue a proclamation announcing the vacancy within 10 days.

A primary must be held on a Tuesday at least 30 days after the proclamation and a general election must be held on a Tuesday at least 21 days after the primary, Mr. Goetzke said.

Craig Purcell, the Democrat who lost to Mr. Hammond in last month's election, said he is "seriously considering" another run for the office.

"There are still a lot of issues to be addressed in this city, and it's certainly something worth looking at," said Mr. Purcell, 38, an architect.

In addition to his job as a vice president for marketing for The Robert Plan, a New York automobile insurance company, Mr. Hammond spent seven years as vice president for government and industry affairs for USF&G in Baltimore.

He has also worked for Baltimore Federal Financial and American Security Bank.

He attended the Johns Hopkins University and received a master's degree in business administration from the Wharton Graduate Division of the University of Pennsylvania.

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