ANNAPOLIS-Annapolis voters go to the polls on Tuesday to choose a mayor for the state’s capital. The incumbent mayor is seeking reelection against two other candidates in a city that has had only three mayors reelected in the past 40 years.
“We have a tendency to eat mayors in this town,” Anthony Evans, treasurer of the Annapolis Democratic Central Committee, said.
Democrat Mayor Ellen Moyer, 69, said elections in Annapolis tend to be “very contested and very uncivil.”
Evans, who has been actively involved in Annapolis politics for over 30 years, said the turnover in mayors is due to personality – in the past mayors who were “brash” and “prickly” or upset people lost elections, while some of those who came back for second terms were “friends with everyone.”
“Ellen is a strong woman. She rubs a lot of people the wrong way.” Evans said. “I’ve had my tilts with Ellen but it was always about the issues. She has a wonderful record.”
Others also believe that personality is the deciding factor in the election. Republican candidate, Alderman George O. Kelley Sr., said one of his opponents in the three way race, independent candidate Gilbert Renaut does not have what it takes to run the city.
“I believe he doesn’t have the enthusiasm, the fire to run this race,” Kelley said. “He doesn’t have experience or passion to lead the city.”
Renaut, 58, a retired federal government lawyer, disagreed, touting his record of civic work and volunteer service. He also contrasted himself with the city’s mayor.
“I’m good at consensus building which is the hardest thing for the current administration,” he said.
Kelley, 48, a 20-year resident of the city, also said he would bring new characteristics to the administration.
“George Kelley is an honest individual that will bring integrity and respectability to the administration.” Kelley said of himself.
He was elected to the city council as a Democrat but switched parties to run in the mayoral race. If elected, Kelley would be the first African American mayor in Annapolis.
Although personality will count in the election, issues such as development, property taxes and crime are also in the forefront.
Moyer said her job this campaign has been to remind people of what the issues were four years ago and how they were able to resolve them.
“What we did four years ago, those issues have been resolved,” she said. “People forget what was on their minds four years ago.”
Moyer’s opponents are trying to tell voters about issues that have not been resolved.
“Sociologically, the biggest issue is the city is becoming racially and economically polarized as a result of rising real estate values,” Renaut said.
Both Renaut and Kelley have promised to develop moderately priced housing if elected to combat the rising cost of property in the city.
Moyer said she was curious how they were going to do more than what’s been done. Moyer helped to pass the Moderate Housing Legislation that states a percentage of new developments must go towards affordable housing.
“What will they do that we haven’t achieved?” she said. “What are they going to do differently? It is easy to go out and criticize.” Evans said having three candidates creates a “mathematical puzzle” with the election because you can win with less than a majority of the vote. The primary election that took place in September had a very low turn out with between 1400 and 1500 voters going to the polls out of the 23,562 registered voters, said Allen Furch, chairman of the city’s board of elections.