Six candidates compete for vacated council seat

February 07, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Kris Antonelli and John A. Morris contributed to this article.

The wife of the former alderman. A perennial candidate for county office. And four relative newcomers to Annapolis politics.

Which two will Ward 1 voters choose in tomorrow's primary election to represent their parties for a vacant City Council seat?

Six candidates -- three Republicans and three Democrats -- are competing in a special election tomorrow for the seat left vacant by Republican John Hammond, who resigned to become Anne Arundel County's chief financial officer.

Ward 1 has 2,572 registered voters: 818 Republicans and 1,382 Democrats.

In last fall's election, Mr. Hammond defeated Democrat Craig Purcell, a city architect.

But his seat became open in December after Mr. Hammond resigned to work on County Executive Robert R. Neall's staff. The state constitution bars him from holding both his county seat, which pays $8,500 a year, and the county post, which has a salary of $76,871.

The polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Tomorrow's winners will face off in a general election March 8.

* Louise Hammond, 45, has been the woman behind the councilman for more than 16 years. She shares a number of her husband's political positions, but unlike him, she is a Democrat.

Mrs. Hammond believes she is the most qualified for the job. "I have a wealth of information from everything I've been exposed to," she said. "I think I could step into it."

She has attended council meetings and talked over the issues with her husband, she said. She shares his concerns about the city's finances and like him, supports efforts to preserve the historic character of the downtown area.

There have been times, however, when she disagreed with her husband's votes, she said. Mr. Hammond, for example, supported privatization of the city's garbage collection, while Mrs. Hammond opposed it.

Mrs. Hammond insists that she will not be merely a stand-in for her husband.

"If I am elected, I alone will be the alderman of Ward 1 and my husband will be a constituent," she said.

* Another Democratic candidate, Steve Raabe, 32, has worked for politicians in the past, but this race is his first attempt to win public office himself.

"This is an opportunity for me to serve my local community," said Mr. Raabe, a researcher for a public affairs firm.

A political science major in college, Mr. Raabe said his interest in local politics stems from his work on his church council at St. Martin's Lutheran Church.

Mr. Raabe said traffic and parking are among his major concerns. He said he also wants to improve relations between historic preservationists and the business community.

Mr. Raabe said he would like to be remembered for keeping the hospitality business downtown, but not letting the city become "wall-to-wall bars."

* The third Democrat, Catherine A. Clark, 47, has lived in Annapolis for 20 years.

A preschool teacher at the Key School in Annapolis, Ms. Clark helped found the Presidents Hill Association and is vice president of the Murray Hill Residents' Association.

She said she wants to better inform the electorate. As an example, she said, city residents did not receive enough information about the dangers of overhead power lines lines when Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. brought new lines through Ward 1 recently.

"What little you knew was disconcerting, but the power line went through anyway," she said, adding that the government let them down.

Questioning the constant drive to draw more visitors into Annapolis, she said "We don't only want to sell the town, we want to be able to live in the town."

Ms. Clark said the prospect of putting a convention center downtown should be used as a bargaining chip with the business community. "Our business community wants this very much. What are they willing to present to us in exchange? No more bars open until 2 a.m.?"

* Edward Snyder, a Republican who lives on College Avenue, said he originally entered the race only to run against Louise Hammond.

But now, the 60-year-old graphic consultant said, other issues have begun to interest him. For example, he hopes to make it easier for new businesses and residents to move into the ward.

While Mr. Snyder favors historic preservation, he said believes some restrictions should be lightened, to attract new businesses.

* Another Republican, Sharyn Steffey, 46, said she wants to be a community leader who unites people, helps revitalize West Street and works to reduce crime.

Mrs. Steffey, a licensed Realtor, has worked in an advertising agency, moderated a talk show on WNAV radio and been a public relations director.

Her civic activities include heading the Annapolis Fine Arts Festival, work on the Annapolis Seafood Festival, overseeing the Annapolis Opera Co. and heading the county's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She has called for "prudent avoidance" on the overhead power lines issue and expressed concerns about dwindling green spaces in the city.

Mrs. Steffey cautiously backs a convention center on West Street, but said she was concerned it could create a traffic burden.

* Louise Beauregard, a 69-year-old Republican, has run for county executive and mayor -- she was the Republican nominee for County Executive in 1986, but was defeated soundly by incumbent O. James Lighthizer -- and now is seeking a seat on the City Council.

"The cards will be stacked against me," she said.

But Mrs. Beauregard has been fighting the system too long to stop now. A perpetual candidate, she has lobbied on behalf of veterans groups and military families, the poor and handicapped for 50 years.

She wants to see a community college built downtown and to improve transportation and parking and give incentives to businesses.

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