Moyer Outpaces Independent, GOP Challengers to Retain Office

By Ray Rivera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 9, 2005; B04

Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer withstood punishing attacks on her leadership style to win a second term yesterday.

Moyer (D), the city's first female mayor, won by a healthy margin over independent challenger Gilbert Renaut, with 100 percent of the ballots counted in all eight wards, according to unofficial vote totals. The GOP challenger, Alderman George O. Kelley Sr. (Ward 4), was a distant third.

With all but one of eight aldermanic races up for grabs, the mayor lost an important ally but appeared to pick up others to retain the narrow majority she has enjoyed in key City Council votes the last four years.

Moyer awaited the results last night at O'Brien's Oyster Bar and Restaurant with a large crowd of supporters. "There are a lot of challenges ahead, and we're going to have to work with the council and the people to meet those challenges," she said in an interview.

Growth, traffic and taxes were key issues in the mayor's race. But it was Moyer's governing style that provided the hottest button. Her sometimes acerbic manner and testy exchanges with aldermen made for feisty City Council meetings.

The campaign also saw an unusual shift in alliances as GOP hopefuls in at least three wards publicly embraced Renaut, virtually ignoring Kelley. Doug Burkhardt in Ward 1, Mike Christman in Ward 2 and Laura Townsend in Ward 7 all issued campaign fliers last week supporting Renaut.

Although unusual, local political observers said, the shift reflected a city in which political loyalties often are driven more by personality than party affiliation.

Renaut, Burkhardt, Townsend and Christman also shared the same campaign strategist and issued a flurry of nearly identical campaign literature in the final days of the race, attacking the mayor's record on crime, spending and development.

Among the claims in some of the fliers was that Moyer had overseen the "largest expansion of traffic, development, taxes, spending and crime in the history of modern-day Annapolis."

Moyer campaign officials said the claims were patently false. Crime has gone down in the city, and although there is an abundance of construction, including the mammoth Park Place and Westbridge Village retail and condominium complexes, most of it was approved before Moyer became mayor.

Christman was the only one of the anti-Moyer alliance to win his alderman's race, defeating Debbie Rosen McKerrow. Burkhardt lost to Richard E. Israel (D), and Townsend lost to Sam Shropshire (D). Israel and Shropshire both support Moyer.

Incumbent Cynthia Carter (D), another Moyer supporter, lost her seat in Ward 6 to independent Julie Stankivic. Wayne Taylor (D) beat Tyrone Furman (R) to fill the Ward 4 seat vacated by Kelley. Incumbent Joshua Cohen (D) beat Regina Linton (R) in Ward 8, and incumbent Classie G. Hoyle was unopposed in Ward 3. In Ward 5, Republican incumbent David Cordle beat James R. Turner (D).

During the campaign, Moyer focused on her accomplishments, including improved pay and benefits for police officers and firefighters, the refurbishment of Church Circle and West Street and the city's AA+ bond rating, its highest ever.

Kelley, a former police officer who was running to be the city's first elected black mayor, received backing from Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. Steele, a senatorial candidate, and Kelley were among the few black GOP candidates seeking higher office in Maryland.

The two recently went door-to-door in predominantly black and heavily Democratic neighborhoods, passing out a flier that said: "VOTE for the MAN, NOT the PARTY."

But Moyer easily won the majority-black wards 3, 4 and 6.

Moyer also overcame criticism for the failed negotiations with Dean & DeLuca, the upscale food retail chain, to operate the Market House, a centerpiece of the historic City Dock.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company