Votes To Fill City Council

Solutions for Eastport debated

Ward 8

January 28, 2007|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,Sun reporter

A retired health economist and Eastport civic leader will square off against a former small-business owner involved in neighborhood watch efforts in the Ward 8 city council special election Tuesday.

Both candidates are vying to replace Josh Cohen, a Democrat who was elected to the Anne Arundel County Council last fall.

And although Ross Arnett, a Democrat, and Frank Bradley, a Republican, share the conviction that reducing crime is the most pressing issue for the Eastport residents they seek to represent, they don't agree precisely on how to reduce it.

The community, across Spa Creek from downtown and often viewed by residents as separate from Annapolis, has 3,356 registered voters - including 1,576 Democrats, 1,125 Republicans and 630 independents.

Arnett, 63, moved to Eastport shortly after retiring as a senior executive working on health economics for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A lifelong activist on community issues and historic preservation, he quickly became involved in the Eastport Civic Association and was elected president in 2005, a position he just left.

The father of one son said most Ward 8 residents he has spoken to in door-to-door visits have expressed dismay about the recent violence at Annapolis High School, and he believes that although crime is low in Annapolis for an urban area, "that doesn't mean anything to you if a gun is stuck in your face."

Crafting a solution will mean developing a better incentive package to recruit police officers who can fill the city's 20 vacancies and possibly beefing up the force to match the level of tourism the city gets every year.

"We're talking about the capital of our state," he said. "So although there are only [36,000] residents, there are hundreds of thousands who come here for the [General Assembly] session and to visit the historic sites."

Arnett is also concerned about global warming and hopes to reduce vehicle traffic and dependence on cars by forming an alliance with county and state officials who can create a public transportation corridor that connects Annapolis to Baltimore and Washington commuter routes.

"If we started today, it would be 10 years before we would have been able to raise the money and build the infrastructure to be able to get conveniently to a rail solution," he said. "It's not a question of whether or not we will be successful in this effort, we've absolutely got to work on it."

Bradley, who sports a longish beard and often hands out candy canes with his campaign literature, believes crime will be reduced by filling the 20 vacancies, but he also sees a solution in the neighborhood watch program.

"I want people to know that if they see something suspicious, they need to make the call," he said, noting that he has reported suspicious cars to police that turned out to have been "dumped" by criminals. He said that the city council, instead of spending more money on parks, should fill the 20 police vacancies.

"I have nothing against parks, but you don't want to have to be armed when you walk through them," he said. "What good is a park if you can't traverse it?"

Bradley said he is involved in a nonprofit organization that supports the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Annexation is another issue that Bradley said he would focus on. He said he would vote against any annexation without proper infrastructure, such as an increase in public safety and public works funds that corresponds to what was annexed.

Eastport residents have complained to him about "cronyism" when it comes to getting approval for improvement plans on personal property, he said. Bradley said he knows of some who have to "jump through hoops to get a shed done," while others have been able to overdevelop their property.

Most of all, he believes his experience running a floor-covering business will help him manage public funds carefully.

"I'm a doer, I'm not a talker," he said. "I've never been a bureaucrat, and I know that it's more important how you handle someone else's money than how you handle your own."

There are two polling places for the election, one at the Eastport Volunteer Fire Company hall at 914 Bay Ridge Ave. and the other at Eastport Elementary School at 420 Fifth St.

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