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Annapolis

Nearly $82,000 mayoral inauguration and One Annapolis ball paid for with donations, ticket sales

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley kicked off his second term in office last month with an inauguration celebration that befitted his propensity for throwing big parties.

Following Buckley’s Dec. 6 swearing-in, which included a parade down West Street and a series of speeches by leaders from all levels of government, the mayor hosted the One Annapolis Inaugural Ball later that night at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel with a red carpet, catering and a live band.

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The inauguration and ball cost a combined $81,629.88, according to an expense report provided to The Capital by the Annapolis Mayoral Inaugural Gala Committee. That more than doubles the $40,000 price tag of the “One Annapolis Fancy Pants Ball” Buckley threw in 2017 after he won his first term.

The three-member committee made up of Genevieve Torri, Buckley’s campaign manager; Stuart Cohen, the mayor’s campaign treasurer; and Katherine Burke, the proprietor of Annapolis Collection Gallery, formed to organize the festivities. They raised $82,570.15 from a combination of donations and ticket sales to pay for the event, making good on Torri’s promise that the celebration would be entirely self-funded.

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Among the donors, who contributed a combined $56,750, were an array of companies, organizations and supporters, many of whom have backed the mayor since he entered politics ahead of the 2017 election.

Six donors contributed $5,000: Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, the city’s tourism organization; Council, Baradel, Kosmerl & Nolan, an Annapolis law firm; MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate, which has been involved in numerous development projects in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County; Kenneth Code, the chair and founding partner of Realterm, a real estate operator; and Frank Gren, chairman of ReefPoint Group, a company that supports veterans and military service members, and Absolute Fire Protection Inc., an Annapolis-based fire protection company.

In 2019, Absolute Fire Protection sold the city a 6.88-acre parcel on Hudson Street that will be the future site of the new Department of Public Works building.

Other high-dollar donors included $2,500 each from Chaney Enterprises, an Anne Arundel County construction supply company, and Reliable Contracting Co., which is currently developing a residential community at Parkside Preserve near Quiet Waters Park.

The campaigns of Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier, D-Ward 5, and Alderwoman Karma O’Neill, D-Ward 2, gave $2,000 and $2,200, respectively. Alderwomen Rhonda Pindell-Charles, D-Ward 3, and Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, both gave $1,000.

Hyatt & Weber, a high-powered Annapolis law firm, gave $2,000; Alan Hyatt gave an additional $1,000.

Pyramid Inc., which owns the future home of the South Annapolis Yacht Centre, gave $1,667. Liff, Walsh & Simmons, another Annapolis law firm, gave the same amount.

The cost of the inauguration was $11,925, the vast majority of which paid for the stage and audiovisual equipment from Chesapeake & Potomac, at a cost of $10,000. Artist Jeff Huntington was paid $1,000 to touch up the mural splashed across the wall above Buckley’s restaurant, Tsunami. Payments of $500 and $425 went to a transportation operator and a band bus for Annapolis High School.

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Following Buckley’s swearing-in, the mayor threw a swanky ball at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel. The ball cost $69,704.88.

In attendance were several members of the newly sworn-in council. Major Anne Arundel County figures including State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, Fire Chief Trisha Wolford and County Executive Steuart Pittman also attended.

The catering for the event was provided by Pusser’s Caribbean Grille and the hotel at a cost of $53,438.61. The food included vats of crab dip, shrimp cocktail, a prime rib station and an open bar.

A tent that covered the back patio of the hotel overlooking the water was rented from Fiesta Rentals for $9,500.

The Bayside Big Band, a 10-piece jazz orchestra, provided live music for a fee of $1,500. Later, a DJ from Nikmo Group took over. The group was paid $1,250. A combined $1,300 was paid to Sugar Farm Productions and Christen Smoot for photography services. The committee spent $685.79 for signage and $250 for parking.

To pay for those expenses, the committee sold about 200 to 300 tickets for the event, totaling $25,819.48. They gave out another 200 to 300 tickets for free as part of an effort to include people who might not be able to afford a ticket. General admission tickets were $100 apiece and VIP tickets, which included a happy hour, were $200.

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The committee racked up another $1,719.48 in fees for using Eventbrite, the online event management and ticketing service.


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