Residency question raised in campaign Annapolis man says city council candidate doesn't live in ward

September 10, 1997|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The question of residency has popped up again in this year's Annapolis city elections.

A Bywater community resident has complained to Anne Arundel County Election Board officials that Sheryl E. Banks, the Democratic front-runner in Ward 5, doesn't live in the city, let alone in her ward.

Antonio A. Brown, who lives on Royal Street, wrote to the county elections board Sept. 3, charging that Banks lives in the 800 block of Bestgate Road. In a meeting yesterday, the five-member board temporarily denied Brown's request for an investigation.

The board cannot investigate until a formal complaint form has been filed or until the Annapolis Elections Board files a written challenge of someone's voter registration.

Banks said yesterday that she lived on Bestgate Road until about a year ago, when she moved into Ward 5 specifically to run for the city council seat that Alderman Carl O. Snowden is vacating to run for mayor.

This is the second time that the issue of residency has come up in Ward 5 and the fourth time questions have been raised about whether candidates were properly registered to vote to run for city offices.

The Sun reported in April that it was unclear whether Snowden lived in a rowhouse in Ward 5 or in a $96,000 home he owns in Ward 4. The county elections board never investigated because an official complaint was never filed.

Last month, a Circuit Court judge ruled three men running for alderman in wards 5, 7 and 8 were ineligible because they failed to register to vote on time to qualify as candidates.

Brown, who lives a few doors down from the address Snowden lists as his residence on election documents, said he would file a formal complaint about Banks with the county board within days.

"Everybody in this town knows everybody else, so we all know Sheryl doesn't live in the city," Brown said yesterday. "If you're willing to do something as underhanded as saying you live in a place you don't, I have to question your integrity. What else won't you lie about?"

Banks said the criticism is an attempt to bring "negative &L publicity" to her campaign.

"I moved to Annapolis last September specifically to run in Ward 5 because I felt that it needed leadership with Carl leaving office," said Banks, who is listed on county voter records as living on Belle Drive in the Greenbriar community of Ward 5. "I voted from here last year, filed my taxes from here and [have] gotten my mail here for a year now.

"I do go back and forth between homes because my parents own a home on Bestgate and I keep a business office there, but I live here in Ward 5," said Banks, a consultant for small businesses.

Banks faces city police officer George O. Kelley in the Democratic primary on Tuesday. Navy Reserve Cmdr. Herb McMillan runs uncontested in the GOP primary.

County election officials said yesterday that it is too late for an investigation to have any impact on the primary because election law provides that an "application or challenge may be made at the office of the board at any time except during the 45 days prior to an election."

There is still time for someone to challenge a candidate before the general election, said James Praley, the county election board's lawyer.

At that point, the county board can investigate and revoke the registration of a candidate who does not live in the ward where he or she is registered to vote. The city elections board must then rule on the candidate's qualifications to run for city office.

The city charter says that a candidate for alderman must have been a registered voter for at least six months in the ward he or she seeks to represent and must have "resided in that ward for at least six months immediately preceding the date of the General Elections."

In his letter to the board, Brown says that "it is common knowledge that [Banks] does not reside in the 5th ward." Brown also claims that Banks is using an old boyfriend's address to fulfill her residency requirements.

Asking the county board to subpoena Banks' records, Brown wrote that "she nor anyone else should be allowed to corrupt the process."

Property records have no listing for Banks, who says she lives with friend and campaign manager Terence Wright on Belle Drive. A 1997-1998 telephone directory has no listing for Banks but does include one for Wright at the Belle Drive address. Directory Assistance does have a listing for Banks at the Belle Drive address.

A Maryland driver's license in her name lists Banks at the Bestgate Road address in the county, but Banks said she got a new license in May that lists her new city address.

Banks said her residency status is "a non-issue."

"They can subpoena any records they want, but I say come knock on my door and find out for yourself," Banks said. "My record speaks for itself."

Pub Date: 9/10/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.