After 14 years as Ward 2 alderman, Republican Fred Paone will not seek a fifth term on the Annapolis City Council, he announced Friday.
“As always, this decision involves much introspection, thought and serious discussion with family and trusted friends. After much thought and reflection, I have decided that fourteen years is enough time on the City Council, and I will not seek re-election for a fifth term,” Paone said in an announcement. “It is time for someone else to take the reins in Ward 2. Hopefully, that someone will have a sense of political balance and will be able to articulately express both favor and opposition to relevant issues in an appropriate manner with the well-being of our neighbors in mind.”
Paone was first elected to the council in 2007. As he departs when his fourth term ends in December, Paone, the lone Republican on the council, said: “nothing in particular” made him decide not to seek reelection, but he did lament “partisan politics” and “little concern for permanent solutions” that will likely dog his successor.
As the lone Republican, Paone often found himself at odds with the city’s Democratic councilmembers and even sometimes the city’s former Republican mayor, but he has found ways to work with his colleagues on local issues.
“There is no such thing as a Democratic pothole or a Republican house fire,” he said. “Reasonable spending and compromise seem to be lost arts in our fair city.”
For more than a decade, Paone has been the “workhorse” of Republican politics in Annapolis, said Steve Strawn, chair of the Annapolis Republican Central Committee.
“He’s our mainstay, the rock we were built on for the last 14 years,” Strawn said. “It’s hard to see him go. I am sitting here saying, ‘Say it ain’t so, Fred.’ But there comes a time when everybody says, ‘I’ve done enough,’ or ‘I’ve had enough.’ I don’t know which.”
When it came to city finances, Paone’s tenure has been marked by calls for fiscal conservatism, often railing against city initiatives that would likely increase spending. Strawn called him the “voice of reason” in those discussions.
“I can only bang my head against the wall so many times,” Paone said.
Paone served under four different mayors and alongside, by his count, 17 fellow councilmembers during his four terms, only one of which was a Republican. He thanked all of them in his announcement along with the city staff, “whose diligent efforts are greatly appreciated.”
One of Paone’s longest-serving colleagues, Alderman Ross Arnett, D-Ward 8, said he was disappointed but not surprised to see him go and called him a friend.
“While he’s a Republican, and I’m a Democrat, we still have a basic fundamental understanding and desire for the well-being of the city of Annapolis,” Arnett said. “People don’t understand how much work it is to be a council member, it’s a lot. And Fred put in a lot of work.”
Paone also didn’t rule out running for elected office again in the future. For now, he has his eyes on a successor to his seat. He declined to go into detail because the person has yet to make a formal announcement.
“It has been a high honor and distinct privilege to represent the people of Ward 2 for the last fourteen years. To those who have supported me, thank you,” he said. “To those who have not, thank you for generally being measured and constructive in your criticism. At this point, I fully intend to serve out the remainder of the term to which I was elected.”
The Ward 2 alderman race is now wide open. Karma O’Neill, a Democrat, has announced she will run for the seat. O’Neill is the founder of KO Events, an Annapolis-based events company.