Friday, February 02, 2007

Annapolis City Council-The Shape of Things to Come

The only major surprise from the recent special election that retained two Democratic seats on Annapolis City Council was just how close was the race in Ward Four. A white, male Republican political neophyte living in a newly developed and newly annexed “suburban” part of a heavily black and Democratic ward nearly defeated a black woman and longtime political activist. Jim Conley, a mortgage banker, was beaten by Sheila Finlayson, past president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. It should be noted that Mayor Ellen Moyer is a former lobbyist with the Maryland State Teacher’s Association. Finlayson’s campaign manager is Kathy Nieberding, a prominent figure in state politics and has worked as a lobbyist/consultant on behalf of Annapolis under Mayor Moyer.

Perhaps the unexpectedly strong showing of Conley is an indication of dissatisfaction with Finlayson's close ties with the mayor, who was narrowly re-elected in a three-way race over a year ago.

Democratic civic activist and health care consultant Ross Arnett handily beat community activist Frank Bradley in Ward Eight. It will be interesting to see in the years to come, whether Arnett and Finlayson develop an independent streak, or whether they will “rubber stamp” the mayor as some have suggested. I suspect that Arnett will continue to fashion himself after Josh Cohen, the man he replaced, by being generally, but not always supportive of Mayor Moyer. He is likely to closely align himself with Ward One Alderman Dick Israel and Ward Seven Alderman Sam Shropshire. Finlayson, on the other hand, is likely to associate herself more closely with the mayor, and possibly even Democrat Classie Hoyle, although Hoyle burned bridges with Democrats when she openly supported County Council Republican candidate Renee Swafford in 2006. Hoyle sometimes seems estranged from the mayor as well. It was not just the support she offered, but the manner in which it was done. Swafford, who was trounced by Josh Cohen supported Frank Bradley in this most recent election.

Bottom line? Mayor retains voting bloc, and we now have four women on council, three of whom are Democrats, two of whom are African-American and one, Julie Stankivic, is Independent. Republican Dave Cordle, perhaps the most conservative voice on council, and possibly jockeying for a mayoral run, remains mainly an opponent of the mayor, while new Republican Mike Christman seems to be a moderate swing vote. I will say that the City Council in recent years has shown itself to be a more effective, cordial and collegial body than I can remember in a long time. Let’s hope it stays that way.



Blogger J said...

Paul, I think you've totally overlooked the Republican voter suppression effort lead by Wayne Taylor and George Kelly. They went into the Ward 4 African American community spreading lies and misconceptions about Finlayson. This election was less about Moyer and more about dirty campaign tactics that are the hallmark of the Maryland GOP.

2/02/2007 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger Paul M. Foer said...

A Republican voter suppression effort??? What kind of lies and misconceptions are you talking about? I was aware that Wayne Taylor had supported primary candidate Brian Tucker as opposed to Finlayson, and had heard some rumors (unconfirmed) that he was supporting Conley as well. But that's his right and it is not a "dirty campaign tactic". As for former Alderman and mayoral candidate Kelly's involvement, well his actions and word speak for themselves--always have and aways will. He switched parties to run against Mayor Moyer as a Republican--again, not a dirty campaign tactic-just a low blow. I don't buy your argument though-and it did not work on the statewide level last November with Steele (steal?) and with black Dems such as Wayne Curry. If you want to look at a dirty campaign tactic, check out how the Local 400 of united Food and Commercial Workers Union (which supposedly represents our local police officers) came out in support of Arnett and Finlayson--In the primary no less!!! That had the Mayor and Finlayson's hands all over it--talk about a dirty campaign tactic! The real issue is why we even have partisan local elections in Annapolis. Out of 150 or so municipalities in MD, Annapolis is one of only 2 or 3 that have this!

2/03/2007 03:08:00 AM  

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