Second time a charm for Annapolis candidate

Ex-college official wins against council veteran

September 17, 2001|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

For two decades, Annapolis' 3rd Ward has been represented on the city council by World War II veteran Samuel Gilmer.

But Tuesday, Gilmer, 79, lost his seat to a former college administrator who challenged him for the second time.

Classie Gillis Hoyle, 65, defeated Gilmer by 98 votes in the Democratic primary. She had lost to Gilmer by 152 votes in 1997. Because no other candidates have said they will run for the position in the general election, Tuesday's vote essentially assures Hoyle the seat. "My hard work paid off," she said.

It was a big change from how Hoyle felt four years ago. She had declared her candidacy at the last minute in 1997 and done little of the large-scale campaigning she did this time, but Hoyle said she thought she would win. When her two adult children told her the results, Hoyle said, she felt "a whole cloud" come over her.

Since then, Hoyle said, her life has been in chaos. Her stepfather, mother, sister, brother and niece have died. In 1999, her husband of 46 years, Daniel Hoyle, suffered a debilitating stroke.

Still, Hoyle, chairwoman of the city's Democratic Central Committee from fall 1999 until January, wanted to make another bid for Gilmer's seat.

She said that since moving back to Annapolis in 1990 - into the house on Forest Drive where she spent her early childhood - she has been disappointed by Gilmer's leadership. "You either are part of the problem, or you come up with a solution," she said.

This time, Hoyle began by reading how-to books about campaigning. Then she set out to win over Ward 3 residents. She went to community meetings and sent out mailings - in English and Spanish - along with her resume. Hoyle holds a doctorate in science education and higher education administration from the University of Iowa. She has served as an administrator at the University of Iowa and Clarke College in Iowa, as a health science administrator for the National Institutes of Health and as a counselor at Anne Arundel Community College.

The resume "brought a lot of credibility," she said.

The highlight of her campaign was to have been a large outdoor party at her house in July, but rain forced Hoyle to call off the event. It wasn't a complete loss, she said, because the invitations got her name out to voters.

Meanwhile, Gilmer, a former payroll supervisor for the Navy and business school graduate, hoped his time on the council and his name recognition would keep voters in his camp, as had been the case in 1997.

"I think I didn't fight hard enough on this one," he said.

Gilmer said he knew his candidacy was doomed the Saturday before the election. "I felt it when I walked around" the ward, he said.

Redistricting had significantly changed the composition of his ward in the months before the election. In the Parole area, which had been part of the old Ward 3, he garnered 71 votes to Hoyle's 116 votes. In Precinct 13, which includes part of the Homewood/Germantown neighborhood that was new to the ward - and where Hoyle said she knocked on every door - Hoyle defeated Gilmer 100 to 47.

"I want to congratulate the young lady on winning the election," Gilmer said. "I am now going to retire, sit back and relax and enjoy the rest of my life."

Gilmer, who will leave office in December shortly before his 80th birthday, said he would miss serving people and is concerned about finding things to do now that he won't have the council's sometimes-marathon meetings to occupy his time.

"You can't fish every day," he said.

The alderman said that one thing on his to-do list is to clean up the years of council papers piled in his home office.

Hoyle, who said "people were ready for a change," said she would bring administrative and research experience to the job.

Among her first goals is to make sure the plan for sidewalks along Forest Drive - a long-awaited project Gilmer secured funding for this year - is completed.

"I'm going to look out for my people," she said. "People can count on me to get done what I say I will."

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