Tally of hats in ring grows

Second Republican, several Democrats enter mayoral race

McMillan latest to declare


March 27, 2001|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

In the first Republican challenge to incumbent Annapolis Mayor Dean L. Johnson, Alderman Herbert H. McMillan declared his candidacy yesterday evening for the September primary election.

McMillan enters a race teeming with Democratic hopefuls -- including two-time mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, former County Council member Maureen Lamb, Eastport alderman and one-time Annapolis first lady Ellen O. Moyer and third-time mayoral candidate Sylvanus B. Jones.

In a speech punctuated by the slogan "Leadership for a Change," McMillan announced his intentions before an enthusiastic crowd of more than 60 supporters, family members and officials at the Annapolis Walk community center.

"Annapolis must have leadership that is worthy of its history and equal to its potential," McMillan told the crowd. "Leadership that is responsive to our citizens, inclusive and visionary in its planning and prepared, equipped and courageous enough to address the problems confronting Annapolis in the 21st century."

McMillan criticized Johnson for "detached, noncommunicative, timid leadership" and called for better intergovernmental communication, reduced taxes, increased police foot patrols and improved roads and infrastructure.

Though one Republican party leader advised him not to challenge a member of his party, he told his supporters: "I cannot disregard the state of our city. ... Our obligation to the truth and to the people must always come before partisanship."

Johnson, who met with McMillan early yesterday, said he was surprised and disappointed by the challenge from within the Republican ranks.

"I was a little bit disappointed, because I am proud of my record," Johnson said. "I am interested to see what [McMillan] has in mind, and I look forward to the debate."

McMillan, 42, an American Airlines pilot and commander in the Naval Reserve, is serving his first term as the city council member from Ward 5. A Naval Academy graduate, McMillan was raised in Knoxville, Tenn., and moved to Annapolis in 1988. Before his election to the city council, the father of four served as a board member of Hunt Meadows Homeowners Association and as president of the West Annapolis PTA.

During his time on the council, McMillan has raised controversy with his legislation creating drug-loitering-free zones throughout the city -- a measure being challenged as unconstitutional in federal court by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union -- and a voter identification law that narrowly withstood an attempted repeal this month.

McMillan points to two property tax cuts he co-sponsored and a measure that requires businesses and organizations to pay for the use of city property and services as further signs of his success.

Johnson, 57, served for eight years on the city council representing Ward 2 before becoming mayor. He said he is running for re-election because "things aren't completed."

"We have a lot of things under way and a lot more needs to be done," he said.

Johnson called the redevelopment of West Street -- both the utility and road improvements under way and the investments being made privately on the stretch -- his biggest accomplishment as mayor. He is also proud of the expansion of recreational facilities in the city during his tenure, including the recent opening of the Annapolis Sports Complex behind Germantown Elementary and the Spa Creek and Poplar Park trails.

Johnson, an economist, retired from the U.S. Department of Transportation and took a pension cut to be mayor.

If re-elected, Johnson said he would take an "action-oriented" focus, working to develop and implement a regional transportation plan, following through with West Street development, continuing work on the city's Parks and Paths for People plan, and working to re-engineer City Dock and revitalize the Market House.

Hopkins, a former mayor and 24-year alderman, began campaigning for his former job in May. He did not run in the 1997 election because city code prohibits mayors from serving for more than two consecutive terms, he said.

"In my eight years, I think we did a good job," he said.

Hopkins, 75, is the former sports editor of the Annapolis Capital, where he worked for more than 20 years, and a World War II Navy veteran whose political career began on the city council in 1961.

He numbers the rebuilding of Main Street and the bricking of Cumberland Court among his accomplishments as mayor.

If elected again, he said his No. 1 priority would be to work with the property owner to fill the lot at 184-186 Main St. that was left empty after a five-alarm fire eight days after Johnson took office in December 1997. Bricking Maryland Avenue would be another priority.

Lamb, who announced her candidacy last month, represented the city on the Anne Arundel County Council from 1982 to 1994. While on the council, she said she helped institute the countywide recycling program.

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