Johnson in Annapolis primary Anne Arundel County: Alderman would unify city, merits GOP nomination for mayor.

September 12, 1997

THE LAST TIME Annapolis had a Republican mayor was a dozen years ago, when Richard Hillman lost a bid for a second term. This fall presents the party's best chance since then to regain the city's top office. GOP voters in Tuesday's primary must choose among three -- M. Theresa DeGraff and Dean L. Johnson, both on the City Council, and Louise M. R. Beauregard.

Ms. Beauregard, 73, a long-time fixture on the local scene, is a devoted activist, but not a viable candidate for mayor. The choice boils down to Ms. DeGraff or Mr. Johnson. Both have shown an ability to lead, but Mr. Johnson's temperament would make him the better choice.

Ms. DeGraff, 39, has forged a reputation as one of the council's most outspoken and confrontational members in her 12 years as alderman. We agree with many of her positions on policy, from simplifying the city's historic district law, to treating all downtown bars similarly in regard to closing hours, to creating a skateboard park for youths who had been posing a hazard on downtown streets and sidewalks. Her support of a battery-powered trolley to reduce the parking crunch in the tourism district and to prod economic development on Inner West Street demonstrates a creative approach to problem-solving.

Yet her style strikes us as too abrasive for a successful mayor. Annapolis has suffered much division and pettiness in its politics over the years, at times pitting black against white, residents against property-rights advocates. Annapolitans were so disgusted with the strife, they voted out an energetic but acerbic Dennis Callahan as mayor in 1989 for amiable, folksy Alfred A. Hopkins, now finishing his second term.

Judging from the respect he has earned in eight years on the council, Dean Johnson, 55, would be more hands-on than Mr. Hopkins, less combative than Ms. DeGraff. He has a reputation as Annapolis' most reasonable aiderman.

Recently retired as an economist for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mr. Johnson has the skills to pursue long-range planning. He understands that Annapolis must preserve its envied quality of life while maintaining economic vigor. He seems attuned to the importance of safe, livable public housing in a city where one of every six units is subsidized. His leadership during 25 years in Annapolis, in his church, in the PTA, in historic preservation and in cultural organizations borders on incredible.

The Sun endorses Mr. Johnson's candidacy for the Republican nomination in Tuesday's primary for mayor of Annapolis.

Republicaan candidates

Louise M. R. Beauregard, 73, community volunteer

M. Theresa DeGraff, 39, public defender's office staff, Ward 7 aiderman (1985-present)

Dean L. Johnson, 55, retired federal employee, Ward 2 aiderman (1989-present)

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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