Eye On Annapolis has learned that a in the wake of the failed development (or perhaps as a precursor to it) of the former Fawcett Property that a new democratic Mayoral candidate may be emerging to challenge current mayor Josh Cohen for his seat.
Bevin Buchheister, a Ward 1 community activist and current president of the Ward One Residents’ Association is rumored to be throwing her hat into the ring within the next few days. Buchheister is a Washington College graduate, attorney, and the Maryland Director for the Chesapeake Bay Commission.
While Save Annapolis claimed to be a grass roots effort, by looking at their website, Facebook page, and corresponding communication, you can see that it is a far cry from a few neighbors raising a ruckus. The group is very well funded and very well connected in the City’s wards which typically determine the outcome of a Mayoral Race.
The organization is supported by the Ward One Residents’ Association Historic Annapolis, Annapolis Landing Marina, Watermark Cruises, US Yacht Shows, the Annapolis Business Association, the Marine Trades Association among others. One of the most vocal opponents to the Fawcett development project was Ed Hartman, owner of the Annapolis boat shows who owns (or who has owned) three of the supporting entities and has close ties with most of the rest. The Ward One Residents’ Association has notoriously opposed any downtown development and has voiced opposition on most projects including allowing sidewalk cafes to remain open later and extending liquor license hours to 2am.
With the backing of essentially every maritime interest in the City and the residents of Wards 1 and 8, Buchheister has effectively closed the gap with Cohen. The Save Annapolis Facebook page has twice the number of “likes” as that of Josh Cohen. They have collected an undetermined number of email addresses from all of residents who supported the group and their message. With this built in base, Bucheister likely has the support of many prospective voters. In terms of funding, Save Annapolis was able to amass (or possibly already had in place) the funding necessary to mount the campaign against Fawcetts in a matter of days; it is reasonable to assume that the Mayor’s warchest of $40,000+ (latest report) could be easily matched or exceeded in short order.
Candidates do not need to file to run for office until August 5, 2013 and most have not officially filed including Mayor Josh Cohen. Currently the only candidates who have filed the required paperwork to run for office are Bob O’Shea (R-Mayor), Joe Budge (D-W1 Alderman), Tom McCarthy (D-W1 Alderman), Kurt Riegel (D-W2 Alderman), Tim Mennuti (D-W2 Alderman), Rhonda Pindell Charles (D-W3 Alderman), Sheila Finlayson (D-W4 Alderman), and Jared Littmann (D-W5 Alderman).
In the 2009 election, Cohen won with 46.5% of the vote, but there was an Independent Candidate, Chris Fox, who garnered nearly 13% of the vote; however it only took 3791 votes city-wide to elect Cohen. And we need to remember that Cohen actually lost the primary to Zina Pierre and only was placed on the ballot after Pierre withdrew her nomination and Cohen was appointed by the Annapolis Democratic Central Committee.
The City’s voters have proven that they are not afraid to depart from the expected behavior of party voters. And what initially was looking to be a cake walk to re-election for the Mayor and most aldermen is turning out to be anything but.
We have reached out to Buchheister for comment, but she has not returned emails sent to two email addresses yet. Sources have told us that the campaign may make its first appearance in the City’s Independence Day Parade, likely with the Save Annapolis Group or the Ward One Residents’ Association.