With 178 days until Westminster's mayoral election, the city has its first candidate.
Suzanne P. Albert filed her declaration of intent to run and paid a $25 filing fee Tuesday.
"Usually folks wait until a little later," said city Clerk John Dutterer, a 36-year city employee. Westminster's mayoral election is May 14. Deadline for filing declarations of intent is April 16.
A member of the Common Council since 1995, Albert, who moved to Westminster from Annapolis at age 6, is the granddaughter of David E. Walsh, who was mayor from 1912 to 1916.
If elected, the retired public health nurse would be the first female mayor in the 162-year-old city's history.
"I'm really prepared for the run," said Albert, who said she has been considering running for mayor since her first Common Council race in 1995. "I already have my campaign strategies planned, so I thought I would go ahead and let my intentions be known."
Albert, 68, printed 1,000 campaign leaflets a month ago. The two-sided leaflets note her 32 years in public service and promote her as "experienced," "responsive" and "professional."
Mayor of Westminster is a part-time job that pays $10,000, plus mileage expenses.
Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan, who has been in office since November 1994, said after 13 1/2 years in elected office, he has no intention of running for re-election.
"I said the last time [in 1997] this would be it," Yowan said.
Yowan, 58, served on the Common Council from 1983-1986 and 1991-1993, and was council president from May 1993 to November 1994. A physicist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Yowan plans to retire soon and would like to travel with his wife, Joy, and visit with his two children and five grandchildren.
"I wouldn't want to commit to four years when we might have other plans," he said.
Although he called being Westminster's mayor a "great honor," he said, "There are certainly evenings where maybe I would rather just sit back and read a good novel, rather than prepare for a meeting."
Common Council President Damian L. Halstad said he was "surprised" that Albert had already declared her candidacy but called her "an excellent councilwoman" who "always does her homework."
Councilman Kevin Dayhoff, who is considering running for mayor but probably won't file until February, said he found Albert's early filing "peculiar."
"It's an unfortunate decision," he said. "The council has an awful lot of work on its plate that needs to be accomplished before we start running for office."
Among those issues are refurbishing Carroll Theatre, the continued economic and redevelopment of downtown and traffic issues along Route 140.