3 signal run for open seat

Democrats seeking Cohen's post on city council in special election

November 12, 2006|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,sun reporter

After Alderman Joshua Cohen's landslide victory in the County Council election, at least three residents have stated their intentions to run for his old job.

The three, all Democrats, are Paul Foer, a transportation consultant and former city employee; Ross Arnett, outgoing president of the Eastport Civic Association and a retired senior government executive; and Michael Matthews, an artist and former news director and producer.

Cohen, who was first elected Ward 8 alderman in 2001, submitted his resignation to Mayor Ellen O. Moyer last week, effective Dec. 3. He will be sworn in to County Council the next day.

According to the city charter, Moyer will have until Dec. 8 to announce a special primary, at which point candidates can file with the office of the board of supervisors of elections.

The primary will be held 23 to 30 days after Moyer's announcement, probably in January. The general election will be held three weeks to 30 days later.

The winner will serve out the remaining three years of Cohen's term representing Eastport, which has about 4,500 residents, including blue-collar and wealthy residents, and small businesses.

During his five years representing Ward 8, Cohen, 33, ushered dozens of bills through the city council, most notably a temporary building freeze in July. He also successfully fought for a rollback in property tax during budget talks, over Moyer's objections.

The three candidates vying to replace Cohen said they would continue to try to rein in development and tackle traffic issues.

"I want to champion bold, innovative and workable solutions to traffic congestion and gridlock," said Foer, 46, who has lived in Eastport for two decades. "We must do everything we can to improve our local bus system and to compel people to get out of their cars."

He also supports weakening the mayor's office by giving the council power to hire and fire a city manager.

Matthews, 44, who was born and raised in Eastport, said Friday that she wants to make it easier to walk in Eastport by repairing cracked and aging sidewalks.

Crime is also an issue, Matthews said. "I would like to see more of a police presence and see more traffic enforcement," she said. "We also need to look at whether there should be parking permits in Eastport."

Arnett, 63, who has lived in Eastport for five years, said he would put his policy skills to use in looking at the city's budget and the public facilities ordinance.

"Ward 8 has the same standard urban issues of crime, growth, development and traffic," he said. "Eastport is lucky because we are better off than most places, but it doesn't mean we don't need to find ways to improve."

Tomorrow, at his penultimate city council meeting, Cohen plans to push an ordinance that would preserve an unobstructed view of downtown from Sixth Street and establish design guidelines, and a bill to limit the density of developments along the outer West Street corridor.

The council is also scheduled to introduce legislation on storm water management requirements and parking on King George Street.


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