Hammond for Ward 1 Alderman

March 07, 1994

Tomorrow's special aldermanic election offers voters in Annapolis' Ward 1 a choice of two intelligent, articulate candidates to replace Republican John Hammond, who resigned become finance officer for Anne Arundel County. Interestingly, the Democratic candidate is Mr. Hammond's wife, Louise; the Republican is T. Sharyn Steffey, a real estate agent and activist. This is a difficult choice, but we endorse Mrs. Hammond.

Her resume is not as impressive as Mrs. Steffey's. Mrs. Hammond is a homemaker whose civic activism revolves around her children's schools, YWCA plant sales and volunteer city gardening projects. But she knows the issues, and seems committed to devoting herself to nuts-and-bolts constituent service -- which, after all, is what people most look for at this level of government. Some scoff when Mrs. Hammond cites 17 years of fielding her husband's constituents' phone calls as experience; we do not. She knows what the most time-consuming and, perhaps, important part of the job is all about.

It is impossible to support Mrs. Hammond without addressing the major argument against her: the fact that she is John Hammond's wife. Two separate issues have been raised -- the potential for ethical conflicts with her husband's county job, and whether Louise Hammond is essentially John Hammond disguised in a dress and make-up.

The first argument is easy to dismiss. Ethics laws do not bar spouses from working for different governments; indeed, there is no shortage of couples in the county who do so. Mrs. Hammond should recuse herself from any obvious conflicts, but to say her election would constitute an ethical crisis is untrue.

Now, about Mrs. Hammond as her husband's puppet. The question is not whether Mrs. Hammond shares many of her husband's views (she admits she does) or whether she will discuss her job with him (she will, just as most spouses talk about their work). The issue is whether she possesses her own mind and will do what she believes is best for Ward 1. Besides her own word, there is evidence that Mrs. Hammond is her own person. After being married for the better part of two decades to as fervent a Republican as you will find, she remains a Democrat. That says something.

The Sun endorses Louise Hammond for Alderman in Annapolis' Ward 1.

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