Annapolis mayor Cohen wins primary challenge

Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen captured victory over a political newcomer in the capital city's Democratic primary Tuesday.

Cohen defeated Bevin Buchheister, a downtown civic activist to win the Democratic nomination, 1,774 votes to 1,332 votes.


"This was a hard-fought campaign," Cohen told a roomful of supporters at the Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge after Buchheister called to concede the race.

Cohen will face the winner of the Republican primary, Mike Pantelides, in the general election in November.


The Democratic primary was spirited, with Buchheister stepping up to challenge Cohen as his efforts to push a new plan for City Dock and rezone part of the waterfront frustrated many city residents.

After joining the race in early August, Buchheister mobilized supporters, many of whom planted Buchheister's green-and-blue sailboat logo signs in their yards. A handful of supporters waved signs from boats at Cohen's reopening celebration for the Annapolis Market House earlier this month.

Cohen focused on clarifying his stances on controversial issues, such as rezoning Compromise Street at City Dock and a proposed large, mixed-use development off of Forest Drive called Crystal Spring.

Cohen tried to defend his record as mayor, often saying that he had to make tough choices, especially given the economic downturn.

In his victory speech, Cohen said he takes seriously many of the concerns raised by Buchheister and her supporters, and said he'll work with them, especially on the thorny issues of City Dock and Crystal Spring.

"I have the utmost respect for Bevin as a person. I have utmost respect for her campaign," Cohen said.

In the three-way Republican primary, political newcomer Pantelides captured 756 votes, to 365 for Bob O'Shea and 41 for Frank Bradley.

Pantelides, who sells government relations software, populated Annapolis with "Sweep Annapolis Clean" campaign signs, some with brooms attached to them. He beat O'Shea, a business consultant, and Bradley, who is semi-retired and often appears as Santa Claus during the holidays.


Pantelides praised his opponents. "I ran against two gentlemen. We ran a clean race," he said.

Pantelides said he was looking forward to knocking on more doors and meeting more voters in the run-up to the general election.

Two of the eight City Council seats had contested primaries.

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In Ward 1, which includes downtown Annapolis and communities along West Street, the Democratic primary was won by Alderman Joe Budge, a retired software executive who was appointed to the council earlier this year. He beat Thomas McCarthy, a Department of Natural Resources employee, 374 votes to 171 votes.

Budge will face Republican candidate Allen Furth in November.

In Ward 2, which includes West Annapolis and Admiral Heights, Kurt Riegel, a Johns Hopkins University instructor and environmentalist, won the Democratic primary over Timothy Mennuti, a Navy veteran and former teachers union president, 355 votes to 180 votes.


Riegel will face incumbent Republican Alderman Fred Paone in the general election.

This story has been updated.