Annapolis' mayoral campaign

Election: Citizens should spend the next six months deciding what they want in a city leader.

April 06, 2001

ON THE BOOKS, Annapolis has a weak mayor form of government.

Nonsense, says Roger "Pip" Moyer, a two-term mayor from 1965 to 1973. The mayor of Annapolis has just as much power in that town as the mayor of Baltimore has, he says.

Mr. Moyer's partly right. Annapolis' leader has enough leverage to protect the city's rich resources and advance major initiatives.

So as the city's 35,000 residents begin preparing for September's primary elections, they should ask who can best wield that authority and set the city on a constructive course. Annapolis certainly has enough important issues to arouse community interest: Growing downtown parking problems, historic preservation disputes and public housing controversies are among them.

Overall, the city is in good shape, mostly because of national assets such as the Naval Academy and the town's historic buildings.

Although the city has a budget surplus of about $4.5 million, its aging infrastructure still has many needs. The mayor could take charge and use available resources to make the city prettier and safer.

Development will be important. While Mayor Dean L. Johnson has appropriately backed the Park Place development that extends the city's rebirth along West Street, he has stood in the way of the high-tech David Taylor Research Center office park across the Severn River from Annapolis.

His opposition pits a much-needed tech campus against his city. It's a puzzling display of protectionism.

The campaign will give voters a chance to evaluate incumbent Mayor Johnson against a Republican opponent, Alderman Herbert H. McMillan, whose proposals often have been divisive; and Democrats such as former Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins; former county Councilwoman Maureen Lamb; three-time candidate Sylvanus B. Jones; and Mr. Moyer's former wife, Ellen O. Moyer, a member of the Annapolis council.

This sets the stage for healthy debate on the capital city's future.

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