A new Hammond at Annapolis City Hall

March 10, 1994

Every election carries a message about what constituents are thinking and feeling. By re-electing Mayor Al Hopkins last fall, Annapolitans sent a message that they are happy with things as they are. In Tuesday's special Ward 1 election, voters conveyed similar sentiments.

They chose Democrat Louise Hammond over Republican Sharyn Steffey by a wide margin because Mrs. Hammond is more likely to provide the same kind of representation they've had for the past 16 years from her husband, Republican John Hammond.

Mrs. Hammond did not win merely because she is the former alderman's wife, but because she stands for the same policies on historic preservation and preserving residents' quality of life. These are still the issues Ward 1 voters care most about, and Mrs. Hammond's commitment to them served her well.

We think it possible that Mrs. Hammond actually could turn out to be a better alderman than her husband has been. His expertise in fiscal management has always been his strong point (that is why he is now the county's finance officer), and Mrs. Hammond likely won't match him in this regard. However, she can do better than he when it comes to consensus building, basic human relations and making peace in a ward that has long suffered from deep divisions.

Blunt and abrasive, Mr. Hammond was not good at easing the long-standing friction between downtown bars and restaurants and residents. Mrs. Hammond has a chance to prove she can fulfill her promise to the people who elected her -- that is, to preserve the quality of life -- without alienating and stifling the business community, without which Annapolis would dry up and die. She has some ideas worth pursuing, such as providing incentives to entice bar patrons to park in garages instead of residential spots. Now we will see if she has the diplomatic skills and the willingness to abandon an "us against them" attitude to see them through.

Perhaps the most important thing for Mrs. Hammond to remember as she assumes her new job is that she represents all of Ward 1 -- not just the politically powerful downtown neighborhoods, but also the businesses and the oft-forgotten extremities of the ward too.

The better she does this, the more she will allay fears that she is perpetuating an inaccessible, undemocratic dynasty.

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