Moyer wins second term
The mayor of Annapolis holds off a pair of strong challenges
By Annie Linskey
sun reporter

November 9, 2005

Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer held off strong challenges from a Republican city alderman and an independent candidate last night to win election to a second four-year term.

With all 16 precincts reporting, Moyer, a Democrat, had 46 percent, independent candidate Gilbert T. Renaut had 36 percent and Republican George O. Kelley Sr. had 18 percent.

The city's first female mayor, Moyer is known from more than two decades in city politics. But opponents made an issue of her handling of a historic market lease and what they said was her sometimes abrasive style.

"I expected it to be too close to call," said Moyer, 69, surrounded by more than 100 supporters at O'Brien's Oyster Bar & Grill on Main Street. "I've been on pins and needles all day long. It's been a week of anxiety and an intense election. ... It's clearly a divided city."

As the news of her victory spread through the bar, people began cheering and embracing Moyer.

Only one other Annapolis mayor has been re-elected in the past 24 years.

"I thought I was going to win, so I'm disappointed," said Renaut, 58, a retired federal litigator. "But the margin is sufficiently great that I don't have anything to complain about. She won by a lot of votes."

Renaut had never sought public office. He made a concession speech at a private home about 9:10 p.m.

Kelley, a former city police officer who switched political parties this year, told about 35 people at the Loews Annapolis Hotel: "You've not seen the last of George Kelley."

The 48-year-old owner of a private security firm did not seek re-election to his council seat. He said he might run for the state legislature. "We've run a good race. I have no regrets. The people spoke, and I respect that. And now I'll move on," Kelley said.

Annapolis city election officials reported a moderate turnout of 30 percent for yesterday's election, one of several municipal elections around the state.

Rose Cantrell, after voting at the Annapolis city library last night, said she voted for Moyer because she has a record of accomplishment.

"I just like what she's doing," said Cantrell, 60. "I'm new to Annapolis, and she just seems to represent everyone."

Standing outside a polling station at Annapolis Elementary School after voting, Jane Goebl, 61, said she chose Moyer because the mayor has been "very active in our area of the community."

"We believe in her values and what she wants for the city," said Goebl, accompanied by her husband Dan, 66. He also voted for Moyer.

Some voters, who declined to be named because they personally know Moyer, said they voted against her out of concerns about runaway development in Annapolis, which they said she has not contained very well. Those who picked her generally said they voted for her because they usually vote Democratic and because she has not given them a reason to do otherwise.

Annapolitans also voted yesterday for city council members. Four of the eight seats were open, and returns showed that two-term Alderman Cynthia Carter lost her Ward 6 seat to independent Julie Stankivic, which means five new city council members will be sworn in Dec. 5.

Other new council members will be Richard E. Israel, a Ward 1 Democrat who defeated Republican Doug Burkhardt for an open seat; Democrat Wayne Taylor, who handily outpolled Republican Tyrone Furman in Ward 4; and Democrat Sam Shropshire, who beat Republican Laura Townsend in Ward 7. Townsend had unseated incumbent Republican Michael Fox in the GOP primary.

Another apparent winner is Ward 2 Republican Michael I. Christman, who was leading Democrat Debbie R. McKerrow, 51 percent to 49 percent. He led by 32 votes out of 1,304 votes cast, and there are 33 absentee ballots.

Incumbent Alderwoman Classie Gillis Hoyle easily won re-election in Ward 3 despite a last-minute write-in candidacy by Michael "Scott" Bowling, whom she had defeated in the Democratic primary. Also re-elected were Ward 5 Republican David H. Cordle Sr. and Ward 8 Democrat Joshua J. Cohen.

The new council apparently will include five Democrats, two Republicans and one independent, according to unofficial results.

Absentee ballots will not be counted until Nov. 10.

Moyer had served 14 years as a city alderwoman representing Eastport before being elected Annapolis' first female mayor.

The race began taking shape last February when Kelley, a first-term alderman, defected from the Democratic Party to the GOP to run against Moyer. Republicans such as Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele promoted the switch of Kelley, an African-American, as a sign of the party's diversity. Renaut, a Murray Hill civic activist who retired this fall from the U.S. Department of Energy, announced his candidacy during the summer.

Moyer's opponents blamed her for a failed deal to bring Dean & DeLuca to the Market House, a historic building in downtown Annapolis.

This spring, Moyer publicly repeated that the New York grocer would occupy the empty building, but later it became clear that negotiations had fallen apart months earlier. Moyer has denied charges of obfuscation.

The building stands empty today, awaiting a new leaseholder, but Moyer conceded that the flap had damaged her politically.

Moyer raised nearly $150,000 -- four times as much as her opponents combined, as of Oct. 30 -- and spent about $80,000 on mailings and ads hoping to return the focus of the race to her accomplishments. She pointed to an improved city bond rating, approval of a new police station, and increased salaries for city police.

Renaut and Kelley struck similar themes: property taxes were rising too much because of skyrocketing home values; development was overwhelming the city; and the crime rate was unacceptable.

Kelley pledged to do more to help overlooked communities and to push for the hiring of 15 more police officers, something Moyer and her police chief said was not necessary.

Moyer received a congratulatory call from Renaut after the returns were in, and Kelley stopped by O'Brien's after 10 p.m. to shake hands.

"There is a long-term pattern in the city of mayors losing re-elections, but we have achieved a lot in four years," Moyer said. "I'm certainly humbled by the support and relieved."

Sun reporters Bradley Olson, Anica Butler, Jamie Stiehm and Chris Yakaitis contributed to this article.
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