Mayoral race nears end of its first phase

Democratic field features novices, political veterans

Five candidates in contest

September 09, 2001|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Alfred A. Hopkins says he wouldn't want to be president, or governor, or senator, or county executive - not even if he were guaranteed the post.

For the 76-year-old Eastport resident and Annapolis icon, there is only one political job worth pursuing - the one he held for two terms from 1989 to 1997.

"I just love being mayor," he says. "All I want is one more time."

Hopkins, who left office because city code prohibits the mayor from serving more than two consecutive terms, is bidding for the Democratic mayoral nomination again.

On Tuesday, voters will decide between Hopkins and four other candidates - Ward 8 Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, former County Councilwoman Maureen Lamb, former State Department official and perennial candidate Sylvanus B. Jones and retired bank attendant Franklin S. Yates.

It is expected to be a tough contest. Moyer, a 14-year council representative from Eastport, has launched a formidable campaign, outspending Hopkins almost 20 to 1, and financially outdoing every other mayoral candidate in both parties. Lamb, who served as the city's representative on the County Council for 12 years, enjoys the support of many of her neighbors in Ward 1. Jones, who has run twice before, is promising significant tax breaks. Yates has appealed to voters' sense of humor.

The competition doesn't discourage Hopkins, who has never lost an election.

From the modest home he has lived in for half a century, surrounded by the memorabilia from 24 years on the city council and eight more as mayor - the ceremonial shovel used to break ground for the District Court building, old bricks from Main Street, newspaper clippings, souvenirs and photographs - Hopkins talks about the joys of being mayor, particularly, he says, serving the people. His campaign slogan is Hopkins "for responsive government."

He says there is more he still wants to do for the city.

He wants to build another parking garage - Gott's Court was built during his time in office, and now he is suggesting another garage on St. Johns Street or Green Street. He wants to pave with brick more historic district streets - Main Street was paved with brick during his administration.

If he is not elected this time, Hopkins says, he will end his political career. If he is elected, he vows to stay in City Hall for a single term.

Lamb, 80, says she decided to run for mayor because "Annapolis needs me."

"I think I have the experience and the background to help the city," she says. "There is so much bickering and unhappiness in this city. All the people who are running have been part of the city - I don't understand why more hasn't been done."

Lamb, who also has served on the county school board, says she considered running in 1997 but instead supported incumbent Mayor Dean L. Johnson. She says Johnson has not accomplished "what I hoped he would accomplish."

She says voters should vote for her, because "I get things done."

"I can build consensus. I don't make people angry," she said. "I am very energetic. I am a workaholic."

Lamb, who favors adopting a city manager form of government, says she wants to build more sidewalks, encourage grocery stores and other community-serving businesses to move into downtown and Eastport, extend health benefits to retired public safety employees, improve parking enforcement and work to solve parking problems.

She says Annapolis residents "need somebody with a new outlook" and contends she is better qualified than the rest of the candidates.

Moyer, who at 65 is the youngest Democratic mayoral candidate, talks similarly about her "can-do attitude."

She says leading the city during the next four years "will require creativity and teamwork and sometimes tough negotiations. I think I have a record for a number of years of doing those things."

She says she worries about an economic downturn and the city's credibility with the county and state governments. During the past four years, she says, the council has been "mired down with petty bickering and power plays."

Lamb points to Moyer's past conflicts with some Ward 1 residents - a letter circulated in the ward recently listing her voting record on legislation, including 2 a.m. bar closings. Moyer says she knows the city and its municipal concerns better than Lamb. (Lamb says that her county experience gives her "a broader perspective.") Compared with Hopkins, Moyer says she has "more vision" for the city.

Moyer, a former teacher who served on the State Board of Education and as government relations director for the Maryland State Teachers Association, says voters should choose her because she has a "better record of getting things done. I have a better record of engaging people in the doing. I have a good working relationship with the state and county leadership."

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