Critics worry city council with five new members won't serve as watchdog

Forging new political ties



Annapolis voters this week elected five new members to the city council, drastically changing the shape of the nine-person legislative body.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer's three most vocal critics will be replaced Dec. 5 by friendlier - or at least newer - faces. Also, the council will include only two Republicans, one fewer than the current council.

The lack of strong critics, the inexperience of many of the new aldermen with city government and the Democratic dominance have led some to speculate that the new council will be little more than a rubber stamp for the mayor's policies.

"The mayor will not have anyone down there now who will know the history and know the process who will serve as a watchdog," said Louise Hammond, an alderwoman for Ward 1 and an outspoken Moyer critic. Hammond did not seek re-election.

The council is made up of representatives from the city's eight wards and the mayor. All the officials serve four-year terms and face re-election the same year.

However, Hammond's replacement, Democrat Richard E. Israel, disputed her concern.

"I know how to find the law, and I know how to use it for the community," said Israel, a retired assistant state attorney general.

Israel wants to work with the mayor but said: "She'll do her thinking, and I'll do mine."

Another new member is Ward 4 Democrat Wayne Taylor. He has been active in the party and with the American Legion and is replacing George O. Kelley Sr., who unsuccessfully challenged Moyer for mayor.

Also new is Sam Shropshire, a past chairman of the city's Democratic Party, who will replace Michael Fox, a Republican who lost in his party's primary in Ward 7.

The only new Republican is Michael I. Christman, a Naval Academy graduate, who is taking over the Ward 2 seat held by Sheila Tolliver, who often criticized the mayor. Tolliver did not seek re-election.

Joshua J. Cohen, an alderman in Ward 8 and one of three council members re-elected Tuesday, warned not to read too much into the party affiliations of the aldermen.

"In Annapolis, what factions there are form around personalities as much as they do around parties," he said. "The current council has been plagued with personality conflicts that have been counterproductive."

Indeed, two of the mayor's most vocal critics, Tolliver and Hammond, are Democrats.

The new council will also be less diverse than the old one despite aggressive recruitment of minority candidates by Carl O. Snowdon, a local civil rights activist who serves as an aide to Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens.

It will include two black members instead of three, as Cynthia Carter, Annapolis' first African-American alderwoman, was defeated by Julie Stankivic, who is white, in Ward 6.

Still, Snowden said, "It is a much more progressive council. You have a much more liberal city council than you would in the past."

Snowden said the results of the aldermen races should be seen as a strong vote of confidence for the mayor.

"The election was supposed to be a referendum on traffic and development and all the buzz words that are used to get people upset," he said. "Instead, it brought in people who are more pro-Ellen."

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