Annapolis race about candidates, not issues
Mayoral campaign focuses on styles of McMillan, Moyer
By Amanda J. Crawford
Originally published November 1, 2001
With the incumbent knocked out of the race, the fight for mayor of
Annapolis comes down to a disagreement over leadership styles and the
value - or liability - of good connections.
The choice for mayor in this highly politicized town where officials
regularly hobnob with the governor and other state politicians will be
settled next week as voters head to the polls to elect a new mayor and
city council in one of the Baltimore area's few elections.
The contest for the top spot is between two council members from
opposite ends of the political spectrum who seem to agree on almost
every major issue except which of them would better lead the city for the
next four years.
"From a leadership perspective, I think I stand head and shoulders above
you," Republican Alderman Herbert H. McMillan told his opponent,
Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, during a debate this week.
"His style of leadership is to impose an agenda," Moyer had said earlier.
"Really good leadership is to engage people in solving problems."
In the Sept. 11 primary, overshadowed by the terrorist attacks,
McMillan, a first-term alderman, defeated Mayor Dean L. Johnson to win
his party's nomination, and Moyer, a 14-year alderman from Eastport, got
the nod from the Democrats in a landside victory over four other
Since then, the campaign has found the candidates - both of whom have
been at the center of controversies during their tenure - attempting to mold
their images to appeal to residents who count their state and county
political centers as neighbors.
Moyer - who as the Democrat and a longtime presence here has the
backing of state officials and the Anne Arundel County executive - has
peppered her campaign with talk about collaboration between
governments and people, her "creativity and imagination," and the
inspiration she says she gets from other people's ideas. If elected, Moyer
would become the first female mayor of the city.
McMillan, a Naval Academy graduate, professional airline pilot and
officer in the Naval Reserve, has portrayed himself as a political outsider
and fiscal conservative with the guts to be an "advocate for the city." His
slogan in the race has been "leadership ... for a change."
Moyer said McMillan's attitude would make it difficult for him to work
with state and county officials, whom she calls her "friends, colleagues and
political allies," when discussing city funding and other issues.
McMillan questions Moyer's ability to stand up for the city in those
negotiations because the officials are "friends" in her party.
McMillan has said that voters would be better served by a "young and
vigorous" mayor. He is 43 and a father of four, and boasts that he does
210 sit-ups a day.
Moyer, who is 65 and a grandmother, questions McMillan's ability to be
mayor while he is a pilot for American Airlines. She has retired from her
position as a lobbyist for the Maryland State Teachers Association.
"I have the commitment to do it as a full-time job," she said. "He can't
it at his convenience."
McMillan said he would retire from the Naval Reserve if elected and that
his job at American keeps him out of town six days a month so he would
be able to be a full-time mayor. He said his outside employment is an
asset because it keeps him in touch with the people.
McMillan has dug up a controversy that enveloped Moyer in the
mid-1990s, which he says flies in the face of her claims to be
During the city's "bar wars," Moyer ran afoul of influential historic district
residents by voting for and sponsoring legislation to extend 2 a.m. liquor
licenses to additional bars and restaurants, despite an outcry from
Moyer says the issue was one of fairness because some restaurants had 2
a.m. licenses while others on the same block were forced to close at
midnight. When the council granted an additional downtown restaurant the
late license, residents sued the city and won. Moyer calls this a "nonissue
"I don't know what relevance it is today," she says. "It's a 7-year-old
thing. Whoever is concerned about it is stuck in a time warp."
McMillan has also brought up Moyer's performance as chairwoman of the
city council's finance committee in 1994, saying "past is prelude."
Moyer resigned from the post after submitting the budget, saying that a
"faction" of council members was trying to force her to fire certain city
employees. Moyer said that dispute, with her hectic work schedule at the
time, is why she stepped down.
Moyer points to the controversy surrounding legislation McMillan
sponsored that was later declared unconstitutional and the style that has
led his critics to brand him "divisive."
McMillan, who is white, was elected to represent a mostly black ward.
He sponsored an anti-loitering law that allowed police to ask people they
suspected of dealing drugs in designated areas to "move on" and arrest
them if they did not comply.
That law, which some of the city's black leaders said unfairly targeted
black communities, was challenged by the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union.
A U.S. District Court judge struck down the law, and the council voted
not to appeal the decision, settling by paying the ACLU $170,000 in legal
During that debate, McMillan assailed his critics, who he says falsely
accused him of racism, as "demagogues." He said he has black support
and thinks the city would have prevailed in the case on appeal.
"I think it is important that we have differences of opinion that we can
express and not have it held against us politically," he said.
Moyer said, "It's not about disagreeing; it's about how we disagree. ...
about respecting people with whom you disagree."
Copyright © 2001, The Baltimore Sun