Votes To Fill City Council

Ward 4

Candidates take aim at crime

January 28, 2007|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,[sun reporter]

With one full day of campaigning left, the two candidates vying for the open Ward 4 Annapolis council seat are talking tough on crime and trying to parse different approaches.

Voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose between Republican James Conley or Democrat Sheila Finlayson.

The winner will serve out the remaining three years of Wayne M. Taylor's term. Taylor, a Democrat, stepped down to run the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities.

Conley, a financial adviser, said some people in economically disparate neighborhoods such as Newtowne 20, Kingsport and Annapolis Walk told him that they are afraid to go out after dark.

"People are terrified in Newtowne, people are terrified in Bywater and all over the city because we are seeing problems that you see in large urban areas," Conley said. "And if crime is the Number 1 issue, then we are all in this together."

Conley's answer to the crime problem is adding 18 to 20 police officers to the force and opening substations in high-crime areas.

He sees lowering the crime rate as his priority.

"Forest Drive is going to be a [traffic] issue forever, but I think if your community is not safe, you don't have to worry about traffic because people will move out," he said. "And there's no sense in building parks if the people cannot be protected."

Conley, 43, said that his opponent would be a "rubber stamp" for Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, who in his view has not done enough to combat crime.

He wants to encourage more home ownership among low-income residents and spur more public-private partnerships to create youth programming.

Finlayson, an English teacher, lives in Annapolis Walk and is a former president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, a 6,000-member organization.

As a teacher, she said, she has dealt with parents and students whose economically diverse backgrounds mirror the makeup of Ward 4, which has about 4,500 residents.

Cooperation is key to tackling the tough issues the ward faces, she said.

"Traffic is an issue, safety is an issue, and we have had some serious problems in our schools," she said. "We have to promote dialogue to preserve Annapolis as a wonderful place."

To combat crime, Finlayson, 54, also favors hiring more officers but goes into more detail. She wants more undercover operations and an expansion of opportunities for jobs and after-school programs for youth.

She said increasing foot patrols is a good idea. but she also wants to empower people in the community.

"We have kids who have a lot of time on their hands, and we have to show these kids there is a better way," she said. "They are not being instilled with hope and the aspiration to do good things, and that's partly the community's responsibility."

She said she'd work to increase the amount of work force housing in Annapolis and strengthen ties between the city and the Board of Education.

As of last month, there were 3,043 registered voters in the ward, with 1,781 Democrats, 690 Republicans and 554 independents.

In the Jan. 2 primary, 253 people cast ballots.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following locations: Heritage Baptist Church, 1740 Forest Drive and American Legion Cook-Pinkney #141, 1707 Forest Drive.

The new alderman will be sworn in Feb. 12.

nia.henderson@baltsun.com

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