UPDATE: We just heard from Gil Renaut who confirmed that he is in the race and that he has the backing of Alderman Israel. The correction has been made below.
With 2013 around the corner it only means one thing–election season in Annapolis.
As always, all of the 8 Aldermanic seats will be up for grabs as well as the Mayor. Annapolis is a town steeped in tradition and many do not like change–just look at the dissension on the Market House and City Dock. More often that not, the electorate is very happy with the status-quo and any incumbent that wants to keep his or her seat–usually does.
But this year may be a little different. Mayor Joshua Cohen, seen by many as very vulnerable, will see at least one Republican opponent and possibly one Democrat opponent in the Primary and will not run uncontested in the General election.
Ward 1: Vacant
Alderman Dick Israel will not be seeking another term. The scuttlebutt around town is that Ward One Residents Association President, Joe Budge (husband of Sharon Kennedy, Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission) is the heir apparent and he has confirmed to sources that he is in the race. However, former City Administrator and co-founder of Annapolitans for a Better Community, Doug Smith is also rumored to be running. Gilbert Renaut, who unsuccessfully ran for Mayor in 2009 is also
likely to seeking the seat [added: and has the support of current Alderman Richard Israel.] Brian Cahalan, owner of 49 West has also made some grumblings about running and a “Cahalan For Ward 1” bumper sticker was recently spotted at the Eastport post office. However, being a bar owner in Ward 1, Cahalan has a better chance of being appointed Santa Claus than being elected to an Aldermanic seat in the ward.
Ward 2: Likely Vacant
This seat is currently held by Alderman Fred Paone who has been quietly amassing a substantial political war chest. Some have said the money raised is not “alderman money” but “mayor money.” Paone has been a consistently staunch opponent of Cohen and likely will be seeking the Mayorship. He is retired from the State’s Attorney’s Office and is currently embroiled in a legal battle for the return of pension monies paid to him due to an error on the County’s part. Tim Mennuti, former President of TAAAC (teacher’s union) is reportedly seeking Paone’s seat.
Ward 3: Vacant
Alderman Classie Hoyle has announced that she will step down and not seek another term in office. One candidate has come forward and announced her campaign, Rhonda Pindell Charles. Her announcement was attended by and endorsed by many movers and shakers in the political world including Speaker of the House of Delegates Mike Busch, State Senator John Astle, and Mayor Josh Cohen. To date, no one else has publicly expressed an interest in this seat and it is possible she will run unopposed.
Ward 4: Possibly Vacant
If Sheila Finlayson decides to run for Mayor, this seat will become vacant. If not, Sheila will run for re-election.
Ward 5: Possibly Vacant
Alderman Mathew Silverman had already stated that professional obligations would prevent him from seeking a second term; however his recent resignation seemed to be a calculated move to retain the democratic seat in the 2013 election . Ward 5 can easily fluctuate between Democrat and Republican. Now his position will be filled with a selected (not elected) candidate who likely will run as an experienced incumbent in the 2013 election. We have heard that former Sen. John Giannetti was interested in running in Ward 5 last year. However, his wife just had a child, so family obligations may preclude that. However, Giannetti is a good friend of Silverman’s. Another newcomer expressed interest in the seat, Jared Littmann who is a local business owner. This area includes Hunt Meadow and likely will see someone from that neighborhood throw their hat in the ring.
Ward 6: No Vacancy
Alderman Kenny Kirby will run again. Kirby won his office on a shoestring budget and support from the African American community and the voters living in HACA properties in Ward 6. This likely will not change. While his effectiveness on Council has been questioned by some, Kirby is an effective representative of his constituents. In fact, many African Americans and HACA residents not living in Ward 6 have referred to Kirby as “my Alderman”–likely due to Kirby becoming involved in many non-Ward 6 issues. Kirby was involved in obtaining a 2am liquor license for Ward 1 business Castlebay Irish Pub, the opening of a Ward 1 convenience store, and the white fence in Ward 8. It is quite possible that there will be no challenger for Kirby in the Primary or General election.
Ward 7: No Vacancy
Alderman Ian Pfeiffer has done an effective job for his constituents over the past three years and will seek re-election. He has already retained a political consultant to manage his campaign and assist him in raising funds. He likely will face a Republican challenger in November, but this seat is safe.
Ward 8: Up In The Air
There are rumors swirling that fiscal watchdog and current Alderman Ross Arnett will seek to challenge Mayor Cohen in the Democratic primary. If he does, this seat will become vacant. However, Arnett is not a campaigner and has a love-hate relationship with his constituents. There are very few that feel he is doing an “ok” job–he is either doing fantastic or horribly. Rock Toews who ran unsuccessfully against Arnett as a Republican last time, has not ruled out a second run and likely would be an effective opponent.
Mayor: Anyone’s Guess
Mayor Cohen has been seen as an ineffective Mayor for Annapolis. With nearly one term behind him, the Market House is still not open, the City has yet to fund an unfunded pension plan, spending has not been significantly cut, and the hiring freeze was more smoke and mirrors than anything else. However, a successful opening of the Market House in the spring may save his bid for re-election–voters have short memories. But many well-connected political insiders have expressed significant concern about Cohen’s preparations (or lack thereof) for the 2013 race. The Mayor’s long-time campaign manager Kathy Nieberding Temprine announced last summer that she would not be involved in the city race for 2013 and is instead focused on the county and state election two years from now–which is shaping up to be very interesting.
Cohen likely will face challenges from Alderman Arnett and possibly Alderman Finlayson in the primary. Other names that have been tossed around in terms of a run for office include Bob McWilliams, a local real estate agent and frequent critic of Cohens. However, McWilliams told us that he has no plans to run for Mayor or Alderman at this point in time–but Cohen also denied his candidacy for many months last time. Sean O’Neill, a Certified Financial Planner and President of the Annapolis Business Association was rumored to be thinking about a run, but discounted that in an email to Eye On Annapolis, “I was contemplating a run for Ward 2 Alderman, but I will not be running. Mayor interests me, but it is a full-time job. I recently earned the Certified Financial Planner designation, so I plan to focus on my busy wealth management business for the next few years.”