Annapolis voters fill council vacancies

January 31, 2007|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,sun reporter

A high school English teacher and a retired health economist will join the Annapolis City Council, voted in yesterday by residents in a two-ward special election.

Democrat Sheila M. Finlayson, an educator, will represent Ward 4 in the western part of the city, and Democrat Ross Arnett will represent Ward 8 in Eastport.

Finlayson, former president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, replaces Democrat Wayne Taylor, who stepped down last month to run the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities.

Finlayson beat Republican James M. Conley, a financial manager, by 35 votes, a narrow margin given that Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 1/2 to 1 in Ward 4. The area includes the Newtowne 20 and Annapolis Walk communities.

"I'm excited and I'm eager, there are things to be done, not the least of which is bringing everyone together," she said last night. "And to begin to tackle some of the issues in our community like crime and teen violence and traffic issues."

Arnett, who was a senior executive for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, replaces Joshua Cohen, also a Democrat, who resigned to represent District 6 on County Council.

Arnett is the former president of the Eastport Civic Association and trounced Republican Frank B. Bradley by a 2-to-1 margin. Arnett could not be reached for comment last night.

Turnout was light in both wards, with 1,210 voters casting ballots, up from 840 in the Jan. 2 primary. The vote totals are unofficial. Each ward has about 4,500 residents.

In Ward 4, where crime seemed to be the top issue, national politics appeared to take a back seat to more local problems.

"In this city, we're dealing with a drug problem and crime, specifically among young men, so that's where my heart is and that's the main focus," said Beverly Blackstone, who supported Finlayson. "[Finlayson's] been in the city for a long while, and she knows the issues."

Finlayson and Arnett, who will each earn $12,000 a year for their work on the city council, are scheduled to be sworn in Feb. 12.


Voters went to the polls yesterday to replace two city councilmen who resigned to take new positions.

Ward 4

Sheila M. Finlayson (D) 247

James M. Conley (R) 212

Ward 8

Ross Arnett (D) 507

Frank B. Bradley (R) 244

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