Crystal Balling the Annapolis City Election–Our Predictions

| September 16, 2017
Rams Head

At Eye On Annapolis, we do not do election endorsements. But we do do predictions. And this year is no exception; and to be quite honest, it is a very interesting year since there is so much civic engagement.

So in advance of the primary elections for the City of Annapolis, we offer the following predictions of the outcome of each race. Our guess is as good as yours. Ours is derived from conversations had, reports and articles  read, debates and forums attended and some general observations as we made our way through the election season.

After the September 19th primary, we will reset and re-guess (if needed) for the general election in November.

Along with each race, are the results of an unscientific poll conducted over the past few weeks. The poll did not take into account residency, party, and inclination to vote—so it is as un-scientific as it gets; but interesting nonetheless. How confident? Our confidence level is indicated by each race with a scale from 1 to 10.  1 being “this could swing either way and we really have no idea” to 10 being “there is no way we’re wrong on this one.”

And, if you have not listened to the discussions with the Aldermanic candidates or the Mayoral candidates on The Maryland Crabs Podcast, they are embedded here as well. And please make sure you listen to the Mayoral Forum we held in late June.

So without further ado….

Alderman Ward 1 (Confidence Level: 8)

Primary Election

Democrat: Challenger Elly Tierney will defeat incumbent Joe Budge by a reasonable margin. Ward 1 seems to be very split and Budge does not seem to have the backing of the Ward One Resident’s Association which he used to lead. Tierney led the Association for several years before embarking on this campaign and seems much more in-tune with both the residents and the business needs of the Ward.

Republican: Larry Claussen, is running unopposed so he should win this race as long as he shows up to vote for himself. He has run a low-key campaign without a website (to date) and has some controversial comments in the Inner West Street Business Association Debate.

CLAUSSEN DID NOT RESPND TO OUR REQUESTS FOR AN INTERVIEW

General Election

Elly Tierney will take this seat. With Budge out of the way and Claussen all but invisible in terms of campaigning prior to the primary, she should win by a hefty margin.

Alderman Ward 2 (Confidence Level: 7)

Primary Election

There are no contested races in the primary and both candidates will move onto the general election.

Democrat: Kurt Riegel

Republican: Fred Paone

General Election

Kurt Riegel will likely take this seat from the incumbent. He has campaigned strongly and is a staunch supporter of the environment and Weems Creek and the health of the Creek. Paone has been limited in his campaigning due to a bum hip which makes the essential door knocking difficult. We think this seat will turn over to Riegel by a very slim margin.

Alderman Ward 3 (Confidence Level: 10)

Primary Election

There is only one candidate running and Rhonda Pindell-Charles will move to the general election and the seat on the City Council.
Democrat: Rhonda Pindell-Charles

Republican : No candidate

General Election

Rhonda Pindell Charles is the incumbent, sole democrat and sole candidate for this seat—as such, she will win the primary and the general election. That is not to say she is slacking. She has been a very strong advocate for her community and while she lacks some of the more technical aspects of communicating with her constituents, she does keep them involved.

Alderman Ward 4 (Confidence Level: 8)

Primary Election

Democrat: Like Ward 3, Ward 4 has no republican challenger and the winner will be decided at the primary. Challenger Toni Strong Pratt will give incumbent Alderman Sheila Finlayson a wake up call with a very tight race. Many expect this to be a “shoe-in” for Finlayson, but we predict this to be one of the tighter races and Sheila Finlayson will prevail. Strong Pratt has been campaigning in the neighborhoods that feel they have been forgotten and will likely see a large turnout from them. Keep in mind that in 2013, this ward had lowest turnout in the City with only 10% of the registered voters casting a vote. This race in 2013 was decided by 235 voters.

Republican: No candidate

General Election

Sheila Finlayson

Alderman Ward 5 (Confidence Level: 7)

Primary Election

There are no contested races in the primary and both candidates will move onto the general election.

Democrat: Marc Rodriguez

Republican: James Appel

General Election

Marc Rodriguez is the legislative assistant to, and hand-picked successor by current Alderman Jared Littmann. Marc has been very active in the City and working with constituents of Ward 5 and campaigning actively since February. As a Hispanic, Rodriguez stands to be the first elected Hispanic to City office and should be able to garner most of the Hispanic vote in the Ward; but the question remains to be seen if they will turn out to vote. However, his opponent, James Appel is a strong candidate as well, although a newcomer to City politics. He is a Hogan appointee and ran for the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. While Rodriguez should win this race by a significant margin, if the Hispanic vote does not turn out, it is possible that Appel could win.

Alderman Ward 6 (Confidence Level: 9)

Primary Election

Democrat: Like Wards 3 and 4, Ward 6 has no republican challenger and the winner will be decided at the primary. Both candidates are running on the same issues and both care deeply for their community. Shaneka Henson is an attorney in Baltimore who grew up in public housing in Annapolis. DaJuan Gay is a community activist and college student who has been very visible within the community. In the end, Gay does not have the experience to hold the seat and Henson’s experience will carry the election by a significant margin. However, Gay will be one to watch in the future—count on that!

Republican: No candidate

General Election

Shaneka Henson

Alderman Ward 7 (Confidence Level: 7)

Primary Election

Democrat: Rob Savidge and Alexus Viegas running for the seat and both are primarily focused on the environment and development. Savidge is a current County employee and a former City employee who brings a great wealth of institutional knowledge to the table. Alexus Viegas is a paralegal that works in Baltimore and is also certainly qualified for the seat. She is a graduate of the EMERGE program which is a program to encourage and help democrat women become elected. Viegas, while an avid campaigner does not have the name recognition of Rob Savidge who first came to prominence when he blew the whistle on the Planning and Zoning Department as a City employee. Without a lot to differentiate the candidates, Savidge will win this primary with a reasonable.

Republican: David Frankel

General Election

David Frankel will take this seat by a significant margin. Voters in the Ward will see Savidge as a single-issue candidate with the majority of his focus on the environment while there are other issues that need to be addressed. Frankel comes across as a far right leaning democrat or a far left leaning republican and that will serve him well in Ward 7. He has quickly become in tune with the concerns of the Ward and has been very strongly campaigning.

Alderman Ward 8 (Confidence Level: 6 in the primary, 10 in the general)

Primary Election

Democrat: Challenger Bumper Moyer will defeat incumbent Ross Arnett by a slight margin. Ward 8 is another divided Ward. Moyer, whose parents were both former Aldermen and Mayors, is lifelong resident with deep roots that run very deep in the community. Long time residents will find it difficult to NOT vote for him because of this. Democrats will be conflicted in the polls, but in the end, we think that Moyer will prevail by a slim margin. Arnett does not seem to have a majority of support in the community–and his opposition to a controversial development may hurt him.

Republican: Julie Mussog

General Election

Julie Mussog will take this seat by a wide margin. Ward 8 is an affluent and demanding Ward. There are a lot of issues on the table in terms of development in the next four years and a person with Julie’s background will be seen as a big asset. She has a solid financial background and has been very active in the community for many years dating back to the first term of Ellen Moyer. Mussog has been asked to run for this seat before by constituents, but family demands at the time prevented her. The primary voters that supported Arnett for his fiscal acuity will likely be the ones to cross party lines in the general and support Mussog.

Mayor

And this is the big kahuna. We have a four-way contest between two seasoned politicians and two neophytes.

Primary Election(Confidence level: 9)

Democrat: Gavin Buckley and State Senator John Astle are vying for the vote of this heavily democrat City. Astle has run for Mayor before and lost by a handful of votes to Dick Hillman. To a degree this race may be avenging that loss. He appears to have resigned from returning to the Senate as he is actively supporting Sarah Elfreth who has filed to replace him. While Astle is an astute fundraiser and a consummate politician, the City of Annapolis is looking for a change and a 30-year legislator is not too much of a change. Astle’s campaign to date has been incredibly lackluster and nearly non-existent. He attends many ribbon cuttings, has amassed many political endorsements, but is hit or miss on public forums and debates. Buckley on the other hand has been actively campaigning and will not turn down an opportunity to talk about his campaign. Buckley cannot raise the funds to match Astle, but in the end, it is not about who has the most money, but who gets the most votes at the booth. And Buckley will likely prevail in this race by a significant margin.

Republican: Michael Pantelides is the incumbent running for a second term. He has proven to be a solid fundraiser and is pulling out all the stops that an incumbent typically does just before an election—new parks, new programs, upbeat announcements, etc. Incumbency is very powerful indeed. His opponent, Nevin Young has run a very low-key campaign. Throughout the campaign, Young has come up with many solid bullet points, but not much more to advance them. Young is much more active than Pantelides in the community forums, but often times, it seems like Young is running as a democrat. In a primary, this will not bode will for Young, and Pantelides will win by a landslide.

General Election (Confidence level: 2)

Here is where it gets very tricky. For months, we would wake up and feel Buckley or Pantelides held the lead. One day it was Pantelides and the next it was Buckley. And today is no different. This race is tight. Very tight. And conventional wisdom says that in a tight race, the winner with the bigger bank account will prevail. But we are not so sure a large war chest is what it takes to win this time around.

Pantelides was not elected by a landslide. He is a republican Mayor in a democrat town that was able to pounce on a misstep of  former Mayor Josh Cohen and squeak into office. He has not had any significant problems or issues throughout his term; but there are a few that may impact him—Fawcett’s property and Eastport Landing to name two. Generally, he has been a good Mayor for the City. While there is still disagreement on how well the City sits fiscally, he made some solid hires including Tom Andrews as our City Manager. He implemented a contract to overhaul the parking in the City which will be a boon to him in every Ward except Ward 1 who apparently can’t stand SP+.

Buckley has recognized that the City is rife for change. He has spearheaded the arts movement and been the man behind many successful private city-wide events. He is a successful businessman with no political experience. While some may say that is a detriment, we must remember that Pantelides had no political experience either. Buckley is running a textbook campaign. Knocking on doors and making as many appearances as he can. He has energized the arts community and equally important, the younger vote in the City.

On November 9th, we think that a combination of the City’s blue hue, an unfair backlash against President Trump thrust on local candidates (clarification…unfair to the local candidates), and newly energized arts and youth communities will give the race to Gavin Buckley by a very slim margin–perhaps as slim as the one that saw Pantelides win in 2013.

But, do not count out a future for Mayor Pantelides. While no former Mayor of Annapolis has ever gone onto higher office, the political stars have never been quite as aligned as they are right now. With Annapolis’ off-year elections, Pantelides, with the help of fellow republicans Governor Hogan and County Executive Schuh, might take a stab at the Maryland House of Delegates or County Council.

Severn Bank

 

 

 

 

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About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.