Voters to pick Ward 1 alderman today

March 08, 1994|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Sun Staff Writer

Ward 1 residents in Annapolis will go to the polls today to decide who will represent them on the City Council: the wife of former Alderman John Hammond who promises to continue her husband's work, or a downtown real estate agent who promises change.

The Democrat candidate, Louise Hammond, 45, was the woman behind the councilman for more than 16 years. She says that she has learned from his experiences and knows the issues.

Sharyn Steffey, 46, says she is a trained leader whose business experience will be needed to serve the ward.

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

The special election is being held because Mr. Hammond resigned from the City Council to become Anne Arundel County's chief financial officer.

He was barred by the Maryland Constitution from holding both his council seat and a position in county government.

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

Both candidates are relative newcomers to politics.

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.

Mrs. Hammond spent most of her adult career as a community volunteer. She has been active in her children's schools, including St. Anne's Kindergarten and Annapolis Elementary, and the American Heart Association. She may be best known for her work to beautify the downtown by planting flowers and shrubs.

Both women campaigned on similar issues: downtown traffic problems, the need for more police patrols, promises to improve the city's parking situation.

In addition Mrs. Hammond wants to move ahead with suggestions made in the Ward 1 sector study, and Mrs. Steffey said she wants to work to improve the water quality along Spa Creek and to address residents' concerns about overhead power lines.

But much of the focus in the month-long campaign has been on the women themselves.

Mrs. Steffey has tried to portray herself as the alternative to a "Hammond dynasty" in an effort to reach those voters who are put off at the idea of Mrs. Hammond's running for her husband's seat.

It's a portrayal Mrs. Hammond disputes. "I really believe the Ward 1 seat belongs to the residents and not to the Hammond family," she said. "The residents of Ward 1 are smart enough to decide who they want."

Both candidates have accused each other of possible conflicts of interest if elected. Mrs. Steffey asserted that Mrs. Hammond would not be able to vote on issues dealing with the county because of her husband's position.

Mrs. Hammond said Mrs. Steffey would not be able to vote on real estate issues.

Despite sometimes barbed exchanges, both women say they have enjoyed the campaign.

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