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Annapolis mayoral election too close to call

The Annapolis mayoral election was too close to call Tuesday night, with neither candidate declaring victory or conceding defeat.

With 15 of 16 precincts unofficially reporting at 9:45 p.m., incumbent Democratic Mayor Josh Cohen had 3,468 votes to 3,518 votes for Republican challenger Mike Pantelides.

Cohen said there were problems with one voting machine at a precinct in Ward 7. Only one of the two precincts in that ward reported results Tuesday.

Annapolis elections officials said Tuesday that more than 300 absentee ballots were mailed to voters. They'll be counted Thursday.

Cohen told his disappointed campaign supporters who gathered at Crush Winehouse that they'd have to wait to celebrate.

"The mayoral race — the main attraction — is too close to call," he said.

Both candidates said they'd be watching the counting of absentee ballots closely. Pantelides said he had lawyers ready to make sure the votes are counted correctly.

Both candidates were optimistic about their chances for victory.

"We're feeling good, it's going to come down close," Pantelides said in an interview from his campaign party at Phillips Crab Deck.

Cohen told his supporters: "I'm hopeful. I think in the end, I will squeak out a victory."

During the campaign, Cohen focused on his experience running the city for the past four years, including turning around the city's finances so that short-term loans were no longer needed to keep the government running. He also said he made difficult decisions in the best interests of the city, including employee layoffs early in his term and an increase in water rates to raise money to fix or replace the city's aging water system.

Cohen also promoted a new vision plan for downtown's City Dock, which was unpopular among many residents, including those downtown. He also tried to rezone one side of City Dock to spur redevelopment of a vacant building, but he ran into opposition and did not get the rezoning through before the election.

Pantelides said he would bring a more businesslike mentality to City Hall and promised to cut water rates by 15 percent. He criticized Cohen — who was an Annapolis alderman from 2001 until 2006 — as being part of the cause of the city government's financial problems.

Four seats on the Annapolis city council were contested Tuesday.

•In Ward 1, incumbent Democratic Alderman Joe Budge was leading Republican challenger Allen Furth.

•In Ward 2, incumbent Republican Alderman Fred Paone was leading Democratic challenger Kurt Reigel.

•In Ward 6, incumbent Democratic Alderman Kenneth Kirby was leading independent challenger Steven Conn.

•In Ward 7, incumbent Democratic Alderman Ian Pfeiffer was leading Republican challenger James T. Clenny.

Four seats on the Annapolis city council were not contested: Democratic newcomer Rhonda Pindell Charles in Ward 3, Democratic Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson in Ward 4, Democratic Alderman Jared Littmann in Ward 5 and Democratic Alderman Ross Arnett in Ward 8.

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