Ward 2 awaits word

Alderman says he's done

no formal notice given

October 19, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,SUN REPORTER

It's a question some Annapolitans have been asking lately: Where is Alderman Michael I. Christman?

He's hasn't been to the last two city council meetings. Complaints have mounted that he's not returning constituents' phone calls. And he has sent a letter to residents of Ward 2 saying he's resigning.

But nearly three weeks later, he hasn't submitted a letter of resignation to the mayor, leaving residents without a representative, delaying the expected special election and forcing at least one would-be candidate to cool her heels.

"I know that he feels that as long as he is traveling so much, he can't make it to all the meetings, [and] it's not fair to his constituents," said Mayor Ellen O. Moyer. "But until I receive a letter from him, no action can take place."

Christman could not be reached for comment, but talk of his departure began swirling months ago when he began traveling frequently for his job at a Baltimore-based technology firm. His wife also recently took a job in Australia.

On Oct 1, Christman, a Naval Academy graduate, wrote a letter to his constituents in which he made his plans apparent: "As my travel schedule increases, I am now unable to guarantee that I can effectively represent Ward 2 on the City Council. Accordingly, it is with great regret that I plan to resign my position as your Alderman."

Once he submits his resignation letter, Moyer has five days to issue a proclamation that would schedule a special primary election and a special election, said Regina C. Watkins-Elkridge, the city clerk.

The special primary must take place between 23 and 30 days of the proclamation; the general election would be within 30 days of the primary.

Depending on the timing, it could become the city's second special election in a year. In January, voters elected Democrat Sheila M. Finlayson to represent Ward 4 in the western part of the city, and Democrat Ross Arnett to Ward 8 in Eastport. They replaced council members who moved up after the fall 2006 elections: Wayne Taylor, who was appointed to run the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities; and Joshua Cohen, who was elected a county councilman.

That election cost the city $50,000.

Ward 2, which extends from the plush homes in Admiral Heights to the public housing communities around Clay Street, is one of the city's most economically and ethnically diverse.

Christman, one of two Republicans on the eight-alderman council and a vocal critic of the mayor, campaigned for a moratorium on annexation and a limit on property taxes.

Alderman Sam Shropshire, a Ward 7 Democrat, had kind words for him.

"I like Mike Christman very much. If in fact he's stepping down, it's going to be a terrible loss," Shropshire said. "We're different parties, but we had a lot of rapport. And if he's leaving, I'll be sad, because we were planning on doing a lot of things together."

Republican Alderman David Cordle said he is meeting today with a potential candidate for Christman's seat, whom he declined to name.

"Mike was very fair," Cordle said. "He listened to both sides of the argument, regardless of party. He's very upset that he has to leave."

Debbie Rosen McKerrow, a Democrat who lost to Christman in 2005 by 44 votes, said she will announce her candidacy for the seat once Christman resigns.

"It is concerning that Ward 2 is apparently already without representation," said McKerrow, 59, president of an estate settlement company. "I certainly respect the situation that he finds himself in. It's a shame that he cannot fulfill the term, but I'm concerned that we don't have representation, and if that's the case, it's time to move on."

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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