With the city's primary elections two weeks away, Annapolis' seven mayoral candidates squared off last night in a debate at First Baptist Church.
More than 100 people packed the chapel to hear the candidates' responses to questions about racial issues, fiscal plans and their visions for the city.
The event was sponsored by the Anne Arundel chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The first half of the debate featured Mayor Dean L. Johnson in heated exchanges with his opponent in the Republican primary, Ward 5 Alderman Herbert H. McMillan.
McMillan said his challenge of Johnson was based on three things: leadership, government philosophy and "practical politics."
He criticized the mayor for what he said was a failure to request additional state money during years of record surplus, and called the mayor's budgets "undisciplined and unfocused."
Johnson said he is proud of his term in office and wants to be re-elected to finish the work he started.
"Annapolis is definitely better off than it was four years ago," Johnson said, noting private investment in the city such as plans for the revitalization of West Street, ball fields that opened this year and improvements within the Annapolis Housing Authority.
The Democratic debate included last-minute candidate Franklin Yates, a retired radio disc jockey whose campaign slogan is "Sane government doesn't work," and whose jokes during the debate kept the audience laughing.
He said the city has been lacking "creativity and spontaneity."
Yates, who said that he would donate half his mayoral salary to charity, said he wants to open a "rainbow center in Truxtun Park with everything from basketball to basket weaving."
He added that Annapolis is a "rainbow city" and he wants a "rainbow bus" to bring people to the community center so that different groups can interact.
Sylvanus B. Jones, a retired attorney with the State Department and the lone African-American candidate, said people wanting "to enhance race relations in the city" should vote for him.
Jones promised a $300 property tax rebate, and said he would renegotiate the city's tax differential with the county in order to lower property taxes.
Maureen Lamb, who served on the County Council for 12 years, said her goals included improving public transportation and providing health benefits to retiring city police and fire personnel.
She said she is a hard worker, and would be as mayor. "My children say they'd rather work with me than any other three people because I do the work of three people," she said.
Alfred A. Hopkins, who served as mayor for two terms - the limit on consecutive terms under the city code - appealed to voters on his record. "No matter who you are and what your problem is, give it to me. If I can't resolve it, I'll find out who can," he said.
Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, a former teacher who has served as Eastport's member on the city council for 14 years, held up her community involvement and work experience as a government liaison for the Maryland State Teachers Association, as a director of the Girl Scouts, and as a former state school board member.
Moyer said she hoped her "principles of leadership, collaboration and team effort" would serve her as "CEO of Annapolis."