With an election still more than a year away, Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides has been busy fundraising for a re-election bid. If you believe that money alone will win an election, any opposition will need to have more than $100,000 to do it.
Pantelides, in the third year of his first term has been a decent Mayor. He has played it very safe knowing that his 50 vote margin was not an edict; and, based on the past few elections, he likely can run on a platform that shows he did not screw it up.
Under his watch, the Market House seems to have a spark of life. We understand that the City is in the process of selling it to a private party and the reaction of Ward One remains to be seen on that.
The Stevens Hardware store has been re-opened as a popular Mission BBQ.
The old Fawcetts building is languishing in the muck that comes with opening a business in the City–stay tuned on that.
He has made strides in working with the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis which is to be lauded; however, 2015 saw a 200% jump in rapes in the City and 2016 is looking to be a record for murders and possibly rapes as well. Property crime is also up and this will be an issue the Mayor will need to address.
So far, the Mayor has dodged the elephant in the room–Crystal Springs. The smart money says that he will kick that can down the road as long as he can before allowing it to go forward–certainly not until after the election. During his first campaign, a promise he made regarding Crystal Spring likely won him the Mayor’s seat. He outright said (on video) that if elected he would stop Crystal Spring. After the election, he backed off on that and suggested that by “stop” he meant “let them build but not as big as they planned.” This likely may be a problem for the Mayor in the upcoming election and he knows it–he even went so far as to remove the video of his promise from his YouTube Channel. Although it is interesting the number of developers and land use attorneys who have contributed to the Mayor.
There were several neutral moves made by the Mayor as well. The “partnerships” with the County do not seem to be bearing any real fruit. In terms of business development, we are still seeing businesses leaving the City and the ones coming in are frustrated with the red tape and hassles. The City wrested control of the former Annapolis Business Association (now called Annapolis Partnership) which has yet to really prove to be an asset to the business community. The Mayor brought in a new parking company, SP+, which has been plagued with problems implementing the programs and as a bonus came with a parking rate increase for metered parking if you use the app they are pushing.
So, what will it take to unseat the Mayor? I honestly think he is safe. He has played his term very safely and has not screwed up in any major or measurable way. But, if a candidate with a modicum of financial backing were to present themselves as a candidate that can balance the needs of businesses and residents…there might be a chance. Rumors have circulated for months about potential challengers including Alderman Budge (not likely, he has $800 and has not raised any money), Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson (again, her fundraising seems more consistent to retaining her Aldermanic seat–she has raised $7K since the last election), Alderman Pfeiffer (not likely with no fundraising and $3700 on hand). Strong speculation is that Gavin Buckley, the co-owner of several City restaurants may be mounting a challenge on the Democrat side, but an official campaign committee has yet to be formed. We have also heard of another candidate that may be positioning to challenge the Mayor in the Republican primary.
Stay tuned. Just as we get out of the wacky National political elections, the wackier local ones will be ramping up.
In case you are wondering who gave the Mayor $121,955 over the past couple of years, here’s his report!