Annapolis official's residency questioned Ward 5 alderman owns Ward 4 home, according to records

April 20, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF Research librarians Robert Schrott and Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

Carl O. Snowden, a leading candidate for mayor of Annapolis this year, apparently lives outside the ward he's represented for the past 12 years in violation of the City Charter.

Aldermen must have been registered voters for at least six months in the ward from which they are elected and must have "resided in that ward for at least six months immediately preceding the date of the General Elections," the charter says.

Property records, Snowden's driver's license and telephone book listings give his address as the 200 block of Garden Gate Lane, which is outside Ward 5, the area he represents.

Neighbors on Garden Gate Lane -- it's in Ward 4 -- say they see him at the house nightly.

Neighbors in the 900 block of Royal St. -- the address in Ward 5 that is listed on Snowden's candidacy and voter registration forms -- say that a man other than Snowden lives in the two-story brick rowhouse.

Snowden, 43, says he lives in both places.

"Under penalty of perjury," voter registration applications are filled out with personal information, including a box for "address where you live" and another box for "mailing address." No proofof residency is required. Snowden is registered to vote in Ward 5.

"I know Carl Snowden," said Peggy Evans, who has lived two doors away from Snowden's Royal Street address for five years. "But, I'm not so sure he lives here. He drops by once in a while, but it's been quite a while since I've seen him around."

Neighbor Tarinda "Ty" Trotter acknowledged Snowden is "our alderman," but said she does not "know that he lives there."

"I think Carl is in charge of the house," she said.

'Here every night'

Meanwhile, Garden Gate neighbor Pearl Barchanowicz in Ward 4 said, "He's there every night. We've seen him cut the grass there."

Snowden says he has telephone calls transferred to a number at his Garden Gate home.

Snowden maintains a post office box in Annapolis' main post office in Ward 1 as his official mailing address. He described the post office box as "a convenience" because he works downtown.

"From what it sounds like, the evidence suggests that he doesn't actually live in the Fifth Ward," said Richard E. Israel, chairman of the city Board of Elections. "You can't just say I live in the Fifth Ward; it's a demonstration of your actions and intent that counts. definitely think this is a question the county election board should consider.

"You might have another house somewhere, you can even have several homes, but you must be registered to vote at your permanent, legal residence," he said. "Residence means domicile. You can only have one domicile."

Snowden says no one has filed an official complaint against his residency status. Computer searches of the major media that cover the city turned up no articles about Snowden's residency status.

Snowden response

"This is just an agenda to try to taint my candidacy for mayor," Snowden said. "In my humble opinion, [the residency issue] is raised when you get to issues, to keep people distracted from what the campaign ought to really be about, which is the future of Annapolis."

Deborah Povich, director of Common Cause Maryland, a government watchdog group, disagrees.

"I think the issue that someone lives in the district that they're elected to represent is an important one," Povich said. "There is a reason for that, and that is to have a shared, common ground with the people you represent.

"More importantly, elected officials have to abide by the law," Povich said. "If they don't like it, they can change it. But elected officials are not above the law. Just to be safe, one should probably pick just one place of residence."

Records indicate that Snowden routinely uses several addresses, usually putting down his Royal Street address in Ward 5 on election and candidacy forms. Financial disclosure forms filed in 1995 state that Snowden established the Royal Street house as his residence in 1984. They also list the post office box and his consulting firm, Carl Snowden & Associates. But his Garden Gate home, an asset with a market value of about $96,000 that should be included, is not mentioned. Snowden said that "is an oversight."

In a paternity suit filed against Snowden in 1985 and updated last year when the mother of his child requested more child support, all three of Snowden's addresses are used. The suit referred to both Garden Gate and post office box addresses in 1985, and in 1996, court records show a summons issued to his Royal Street home.

A certificate of candidacy Snowden filed with the city elections board in 1992 -- each candidate must fill out this form to run -- lists a mailing address of his post office box, a residential address at the Royal Street home and a home telephone number at the Garden Gate property.

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