Get out and vote, Annapolis Anne Arundel County: City politics will change because few incumbents are returning.

November 03, 1997

TOMORROW IS Election Day in Annapolis. Voters will select a new mayor and at least five new aldermen. With such turnover, the prospect of significant change in the governance of Maryland's capital city is great. After eight years of amiable Alfred A. Hopkins as mayor, whoever is his successor -- former mayor Dennis Callahan or two-term Alderman Dean L. Johnson -- will take a more activist role.

Mr. Callahan, a Democrat, won't hesitate to use the mayor's office as a bully pulpit. Although not as outspoken, Mr. Johnson will be more active than the incumbent in assembling long-term plans for development, infrastructure and transportation.

The only council members standing for re-election are Louise Hammond in Ward 1, Samuel Gilmer in Ward 3 and Ellen O. Moyer in Ward 8. Regardless of how these incumbents fare, brand-new aldermen will occupy a majority of the eight seats on the city's legislative body.

Under these circumstances, the mayor should initially have the upper hand in controlling city affairs. This arrangement will be in marked contrast to the past four years, when the council was often the more active arm of the government. It may take time before the new aldermen get their bearings and begin to effectively exercise power.

Four years ago in a hotly contested three-way race for mayor, about 48 percent of Annapolis voters turned out on Election Day. That was slightly greater than in previous elections. This time, despite a slate full of contested races, the feeling around town is that turnout may be low. That would be unfortunate.

Unlike previous years marked by boisterous campaigns for mayor and aldermanic seats, this year has brought a surprisingly low level of interest considering that the charter mandated change at the top following Mr. Hopkins' two terms.

Annapolis is a beautiful town with much to recommend it, but it is also at a crossroads in terms of development and quality of life. Voting is the most effective means in a democracy for sending messages to the political representatives.

Annapolis residents can make their choices known tomorrow, but only if they go to the polls.

Pub Date: 11/03/97

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