Unlike 2001, this year's mayoral race a quiet one

Moyer, Republican challenger are alone on primary ballots

independent also running

Independent, Republican challenge Moyer

August 14, 2005|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Compared with the most recent Annapolis mayoral contest in 2001 - when seven candidates vied in two primaries and and an incumbent mayor was knocked off - this year's race looks downright ordinary.

The Democratic incumbent, a Republican challenger and an independent will appear on the ballot in November.

There are no intraparty races, which means the primary Sept. 20 will not alter the mayoral field, although, under the city election law, the names of the candidates from the two major parties will appear on the primary ballots.

The incumbent mayor, Democrat Ellen O. Moyer, has by far the largest campaign fund. Recent campaign finance statements revealed that she had raised about $94,000 as of Aug. 2 to spend on such things as staff, placards and radio ads.

Moyer - who served on the city council for 14 years before becoming mayor and whose former husband, Roger "Pip" Moyer, was an Annapolis mayor - averted a primary challenge when a local minister didn't file.

She emphasized her support for the city's Police Department and pointed to a declining crime rate in the city.

At her direction, she said, police are working more closely than ever with the city's housing authority.

Moyer, 69, a retired education lobbyist and the city's first female mayor, also pointed to economic development and the city's AA+ bond rating, which was raised during her time in office.

She also worked to cut the property tax rate to partly offset the impact of rising tax assessments on homeowners. Under Moyer, the city has spent millions to upgrade West Street, including a brick makeover off the block extending from Church Circle. Moyer is also known for her greenscape efforts.

Her two challengers suggested that the city's development strategy has been too aggressive.

"Our city is buckling at the seams," said Alderman George O. Kelley Sr., a Republican. "We're challenged to find remedies for this complex situation. We have to look at how fast we are developing."

Pointing to two recent shootings and a killing in low-income city neighborhoods, Kelley, a former Annapolis police officer, criticized Moyer's management of the Police Department.

Referring to the recent death of 20-year-old Temont Kevin Fisher, who police said was shot by a 15-year-old friend in the Robinwood public housing complex, Kelley asked, "How do you think that 20-year-old's mother feels about the crime rate?"

Kelley said an additional 10 to 12 officers dedicated solely to community policing are needed. Moyer and Police Chief Joseph S. Johnson have argued that the city has enough officers on the street.

Kelley had raised about $5,500 as of Aug. 2, according to campaign finance records. About half of that has come from developers and real estate brokers, according to Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization that tracks campaign funding.

Kelley, who owns a security business, defended the contributions.

Developers are "entitled to contribute," he said, "but my loyalty is to the people."

Kelley, who spent much of his political career as a Democrat, switched parties early this year at a news conference attended by Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the state's first black lieutenant governor.

Steele stressed at the time that Kelley, who is also black, illustrated the GOP's growing diversity.

"Our core values were more in line with the Republican Party," Kelley, 48, said of why he and his wife registered as Republicans. "I believe in family values between husband and wife."

Gilbert Renaut, a lawyer with the U.S. Department of Energy who is running as an independent because the federal Hatch Act bars federal employees from running as Democrats or Republicans, said party politics should have little to do with city issues.

Renaut, 58, said that after weighing his options this summer, he decided to run because "we're going in the wrong direction in a lot of ways."

While collecting signatures to get on the ballot, he said, he "got to meet a lot of voters."

"I found out that traffic and development and responsible financing were the concerns," he said.

He criticized the mayor's handling of the quest to find a merchant to operate the historic Market House.

After New York gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca announced recently that it would not open a store in Annapolis as it had planned, Renaut wanted to know why a third party, rather than the original second bidder, got the contract.

"I'm for an open government where things aren't done secretly," he said.

Renaut has raised a little more than $400 for his campaign and hopes to raise about $10,000. "I just haven't started yet," he said.

Renaut has never run for political office before, but he said that his experience leading neighborhood associations has prepared him to run.

Other city races are more crowded. Carl O. Snowden, an aide to County Executive Janet S. Owens and a leader in the black community, recruited black candidates for all eight alderman races.

"Historically, the more African-Americans are involved as candidates, the higher the [African-American] turnout is," Snowden said.

The unprecedented number of black candidates will ensure that issues affecting blacks are discussed in the campaign, Snowden said.

He tied his efforts this year to the 40th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act and said he expects to continue recruiting minority candidates.

"This is a preview of 2006," he said.

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