Ward 1 seekers new to politics

Richard Israel, Doug Burkhardt point to civic work, focus on development, crime, property taxes


Two political novices and longtime Annapolitans will square off to fill the shoes of Louise Hammond, the downtown alderwoman from Ward One for the past 12 years.

Richard E. Israel, 62, is a retired assistant state attorney general who routinely dealt with municipal law issues during his government career. He defeated Alice Johnson in the Democratic primary, winning 279 votes to her 31.

Doug Burkhardt, 47, is president and owner of the Monticello Group, a consulting firm for emerging technology and mortgage companies based in Annapolis. He ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Although neither has run for office, both have highlighted prior civic work and pledged to deal judiciously with development, crime and property taxes in an area where business interests, historic preservation, residential concerns and public housing provide challenging issues.

Ward One covers downtown Annapolis, including the State House, and is bounded by the U.S. Naval Academy on the east; College Creek, Taylor Avenue and Spa Road on the north; the Silopanna Road corridor on the west; and Spa Creek on the south.

Israel, who has lived in Ward One for more than 30 years, said serving as alderman would be a logical extension of his civic work. He is a founding member of the Murray Hill Residents Association, a neighborhood group that helped create planning guidelines along West Street. He's also a member of the Annapolis Historical District commission and chairman of the Annapolis elections board.

"I would urge voters to look at what I have done in civic life and professional life," he said. "I have been involved in the civic life of Annapolis for 25 years, and I have consistently been able to demonstrate a consensus approach. I hope people can not only listen to what I have said, but how I've conducted my campaign. I think it's an indication of how I will conduct myself in office."

Israel said he has been to 30 "coffees" in which he has talked with voters about his plans and their concerns. He has brought campaign contribution information with him everywhere he went and made himself available at 49 West St. every Saturday morning since.

He urged voters to focus on his record and positions on key issues such as how to rein in development along West Street, perhaps with height and parking restrictions.

Like Israel, this is Burkhardt's first political race, although he has been involved with local nonprofits and environmental groups, including the Sharing Foundation, the Spa Creek Conservancy and Greenscape, as well as several community associations. Burkhardt has lived in Ward One for 18 years.

The most pressing issues for Ward One are growth, crime, property tax assessments and accountability in government, Burkhardt said, something he said residents have told him during door-to-door stops.

"With the additional 550 units that have been approved in Murray Hill, we will just about double the size of our neighborhood," he said, referring to several major residential developments under way. "We need adequate facilities. Certain investments have to be made, and the city has looked the other way."

Burkhardt said he would advocate for Annapolis police to take to the streets to reduce violent crime and property crime.

He also said he would support legislation being considered by the council to limit property assessments to a 4 percent annual increase.

Maryland already limits assessment increases to 10 percent, but local municipalities can lower that amount.

Israel also supports capping property tax assessments, although he said further study would be needed before a 4 percent cap was imposed, particularly with regard to how the cap would affect the city's bond rating.

Burkhardt pledged to bring accountability to the council, and Israel promised to be accessible to constituents.

Both praised Hammond for being accessible and straightforward during her time on the council. Hammond, who has been a critic of Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, is not seeking re-election.bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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