Dock of the Bay
Vol. 9, No.36
September 6 - 12, 2001
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The Annapolis Seven: Choose Two September 11

2001 Contenders: Former Democratic mayor Al Hopkins and current Republican mayor Dean Johnson were all smiles and pats on the back at Johnson’s innauguration a little less than four years ago.

With 2001’s primary election closing in on Annapolis, the NAACP invited citizens to hear - and question - the seven candidates vying to become our capital city’s next mayor. Two hundred fifty-seven spectators sat two and a half hours in the wooden pews of the stately, modern First Baptist Church, poised between the Clay Street neighborhood and historic Annapolis, to listen, laugh and occasionally scold.

Two of the candidates - incumbent Dean Johnson and Ward 5 alderman Herbert McMillan - are Republican. Democrats are more numerous at five: former mayor Al Hopkins; three-time candidate Sylvanus Jones, former three-term county council member Maureen Lamb; Ward 8 alderwoman and former first lady of Annapolis Ellen Moyer; and serio-comic candidate Franklin Yates. Five are men; two are women; one is African American. It’s a mature field: The youngest, McMillan, is 43; the oldest, Lamb, is 79.

Race relations dominated this debate, with McMillan - who sponsored city legislation to outlaw loitering in neighborhoods troubled by drug trade and to require voter identification at the polls - taking heavy heat. Recurrent issues were who speaks for the city’s African American community, poor conditions in public housing and respect.

Moderated by former alderman Carl Snowden, now a special assistant to County Executive Janet Owens, the debate followed the form of the primary, with Republican facing Republican and Democrat Democrats. Between three-minute opening and two-minute closing statements, the candidates were questioned first by a panel of three city journalists and then by the audience.

Here are some edited snippets of what they had to say.

“As mayor, there is no they or we. Only us.”
Dean Johnson: 58, Mayor, Admiral Heights

Being mayor of the city of Annapolis is an honor, an honor that I’ve shared only with 123 individuals before me. But it is an honor that I carry on your behalf. The city of Annapolis is a complex institution. It is an organization composed of men and women, young and old. As mayor, there is no “they” or “we.” Only “us.”

The health of this community cannot be measured on one street corner or on one street. It can be measured by participation at events like this where ideas are exchanged but, most importantly, facts are listened to. [In the Republican primary], I’m the only candidate with a record as mayor, a record of getting things done. If you look at where the votes occur, you will find that I was always willing to take that next step. The present is a nice place to be, but tomorrow is the future.

Being the mayor is more than a full-time job. It’s a commitment. It’s not something you pass off to staff when it’s convenient. Being the mayor is not a question about being able to stand on the bridge of a ship and give orders. It’s knowing how that ship functions. But most importantly, the duty of the mayor is to make sure that ship is prepared and going in the right direction.

“You don’t make progress by sweeping things under the carpet.”
Herbert McMillan: 43, Alderman (three and a half years) and airline pilot, Hunt Meadows
As an alderman I brought forth a lot of issues that need to be dealt with in the city. I think it’s important that Annapolis have a mayor that’s not afraid to bring things up that need to be talked about. I think from a fiscal and budgetary standpoint, I’ve done a good job, and I imagine people do, whether they agree with me on issues or not.

I think that legislation [I supported] gave them some power over their destiny downtown. It gave them a voice in a powerful city when they sat prisoner to the council. I think that the drug and loitering zone law was important. I think the voter identification law was important. These are issues that we need to talk about.

A lot of time you’re criticized, but I don’t think you make progress by sweeping things under the carpet. And I think that’s happened too long in the city. I’d rather be shouting about something than not talking about it at all.

“My role model is Jesus Christ.”
Al Hopkins:
76, Former Mayor (eight years) and Alderman (24 years), Eastport

Why after two terms as mayor do I want a third term? The answer is very simple: I didn’t finish what I started.

I did some things. When you’re mayor, you’ve got to remind the governor that this city has more property that we receive no tax for. So I went to the governor and said, “that’s not fair, you’ve got to help.” I went to the state and got money for what you see on Main Street. The state paid for that. I got a new parking garage on Gott Court. The state paid for that. I started Westgate Circle.

In 24 years as an alderman, I served on every committee in the council and was chair of every committee at one time or another. I was mayor. I know how to be mayor.

No matter who you are or what the problem is, give it to me and I’ll do my best to resolve it. If I can’t resolve it, I’ll find someone who can. I’m willing to do whatever you want me to do. I want to work my way to heaven. My role model is Jesus Christ.

“Let’s get the right people in the right places.”
Sylvanus Jones: 70, Government Attorney and Consultant, Dorsey Heights

I was chairman of the transportation advisory board for eight years; I donated those years to the city and citizens of Annapolis. I would very much like to finish that job, which I laid out and established the foundations for.

Citizens of Annapolis want change. I walk through the neighborhoods and that is what they are saying to me. They ask me, “Mr. Jones are you going to bring change?” And I say “You bet I am, and it’s going to be a change for the better.”

And I want you to realize I’m committed.

On transportation, I shall establish a bus system so that buses arrive at the stop every 10 minutes. In Parks and Recreation, I would like to see a system that’s wise enough to accommodate the desires of [teens for activities.]

On taxes and revenue, I will definitely negotiate a fair tax system with the county. We have a hundred million dollars which the city council and the mayor have over the past three years given to the county because they do not know how to negotiate. I know how to get that money back. This is ridiculous: poor management, poor administration. Let’s get the right people in the right places. I will reorganize government.

“Most of all, I want to treasure what we have in the city.”
Maureen Lamb: 79, Former Three-term County Council Member, Downtown

There are only two things that I’ve promised in this campaign. One is that before I leave office, Bates will be done. [The city’s first and now closed African American high school will be redeveloped as a community center.]

My second promise is that I am absolutely so disturbed over the fact that the police, the firemen, the people who pick up my trash can work for 30 or 25 years for this city and receive no health benefits. I think it’s a disgrace.

[As for my vision,] I think about the city visually. I want to see beautiful, wide streets with lots of planting, streets that people walk down and are happy to be here. I want plenty of parking. I want extra public transportation. I want plenty of jobs. I want the recreation building finished, and I want us to have a senior center. Most of all, I want to treasure what we have in the city, which is that love of our city, beautiful buildings and the fact that everybody who comes here wants to stay, wants to live here, and they can’t afford it.

Affordable housing is something that I’ve worked with for a long time and I really believe in. Every piece of housing that’s done should have a certain section affordable. And I don’t consider $150,000 affordable.

“We have a lot of work to do to develop a lot of partnerships.”
Ellen Moyer: 65, Alderwoman (14 years), Eastport

We have a lot of work to do to develop a lot of partnerships.

I came to Annapolis to work for the Girl Scouts. As a district director, my job was to train leaders. The training I had to do that prepared me for the other roles I have had - as an executive director of government relations, director, board member, teacher, elected leader, as a volunteer.

There’s this expression: Girl Scout Way of Work. It’s about participatory self-government. That requires a process of active listening because that is what democracy is founded on, and also vision and creativity. It values respect, friendship, honesty, teamwork and partnership.

Principles of leadership, engaging others in anything that I run, have served me well in all my responsibilities and will serve me well in the future of the city of Annapolis to meet the new challenges that we have and maintain our quality of life.

“Sane Government Does Not Work.”
Franklin Yates: 66, Proprietor Stars Unlimited Awesome Referral Service, Downtown

Annapolis government hasn’t had enough imagination or enough spontaneity. That may sound crazy, but if I’m not crazy in this crazy world, then I am surely crazy.

About 50 years ago, in 1951, my mother, a Democrat, ran against my father, who was an alderman. What a household that was for a while.

Why did I get into this race? Well number one, none of the people on this panel asked me to help them. I would have helped any one of them. They’re all great people, but none of them asked me.

But maybe there is an area I can do something. Only three of our activity centers are open right now. I want to see a rainbow center over in Truxton Park. I want to see a center over there with everything from basketball to basket weaving to take care of all the citizens of this town. We’re going to have rainbow clusters from all the areas right here in Truxton Park. That will bring us a unified city.

I believe this city can move to be not just the capital of Maryland or the county seat but the first real capital of the United States. I’d like to see more imagination and sense of humor with the county executive and the governor and the president - and I have home phone numbers of all of them. All of them. I really do.

I’m very grateful to my campaign manager, who advised me to wear a tie.

The Flight of the Osprey

Osprey have not all fled the Bay, but most lingerers are young birds that haven’t yet tried their wings on the vast distances of fall migration.

The routes and destinations of our birds are mysteries. To unravel the mystery, some 130 adult birds are being tracked by the University of Minnesota Raptor Center in a continent-wide study. The birds were mounted with transmitters. Now the Raptor Center tracks their migration by satellite on Internet.

As of September 3, here’s who among East Coast birds was where. Reporting is Rob Bierregaard, who maps their flight.

KC, a male, is hanging out in the ’hood around his nest at Felix Neck on Martha’s Vineyard. He, writes Bierregaard, is “vying for the ‘last one out, shut off the lights’ award.”

HX, who has been tracked for a year, has made more progress after last year’s slow start. From his nest on Martha’s Vineyard, he has moved back to New York’s Shelter Island Bay, where he staged for his fall migration last year.

Farther ahead are the females. Nicknamed KD (Lang), however, couldn’t seem to get past Cape May; her migration is on hold. In contrast, Ms. Charlotte is down in Honduras. And KB is finally behaving like an East Coast Osprey is supposed to: heading southeast over Cuba.

Follow their continuing flight under “migration” at

-Bay Weekly

Way Downstream …

Along Chesapeake Bay, Delaware and New York have joined a Bay-wide effort to remove the Chesapeake from the government’s list of impaired waters by 2010. Their involvement could break loose more clean-up money from the government …

In Virginia, the Army Corps of Engineers ordered a halt last week to a beach-restoration project after four protected loggerhead turtles were killed by a 100-ton dredge. The operation will be shut down, at least until a turtle-detecting trawler arrives …

In New Mexico, recent bear attacks suggest that shark-fearing Atlantic Coast bathers aren’t the only folks at peril. On August 19, a 250-pound black bear killed a 93-year-old great grandmother after bursting into her home. A man shot another home-invading bear last week, and a Texas boy was bitten after he and two friends were chased earlier this summer. Wildlife experts blame a late frost that destroyed the summer’s berry crop and left bears hungry …

Our Creature Feature comes from the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, where an apparently hygienic polar bear proves that all animal attacks aren’t violent. Tourists and guides returned recently to discover that the bear had ransacked their camp.

Strangely, dried meat hanging in plain view and other foods were untouched. But the bear bit through toothpaste tubes, sucking them dry.

“Maybe he felt he had bad breath after eating seal all summer,” joked the tour guide.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly