Three Men and a Mayoral Race ANNE ARUNDEL


Annapolitans can count themselves lucky. After a snooze of a primary, they are about to be treated to a general election featuring a fascinating mayoral race with three candidates who embody clear choices about city issues.

To make matters even better, they already know a lot about each of the three and seem eager for the debates and discourse to begin so they can know more. This is one election where voters won't just be flipping a coin and pulling a lever. Most of them are going into this campaign with an open mind, waiting to hear what the candidates have to say and watch how they behave.

This attitude, coupled with the fact that Annapolis voters have a penchant for dumping incumbent mayors, puts the three-way race up for grabs. Democratic Mayor Alfred Hopkins, Republican Larry C. Vincent and former mayor Dennis Callahan, an independent, each has the potential to pull this off. Who will come out the winner Nov. 2 depends on the answers to a variety of questions:

Has Mr. Callahan abandoned the brashness and arrogance that cost him the 1989 election, a contest anyone with his abilities should have won? What do people want -- a custodial mayor such as Mr. Hopkins or an activist mayor, which is what Mr. Callahan was and Mr. Vincent promises to be? Can Mr. Vincent erase the notion that he would be a mayor for the downtown business community but not the rest of the city? What matters more to voters -- Mr. Hopkins' kindliness and compassion, or the fact that he delegates much of the work of running Annapolis to others?

Then there is the logistical question of how Mr. Callahan's candidacy will affect election results. Because most of his support seems to be coming from Democrats, the question is how many Democratic votes will he attract. Can he draw enough to win, or only enough to spoil Mr. Hopkins' chances and dump the election in Mr. Vincent's lap?

In too many elections, the competition is thin, the choices nil. Those are problems about which Annapolitans cannot complain this time around. Three men, each with different visions, abilities, positives and negatives, want to run their city. In the coming month, it's up to them to decide what kind of leader they want and what kind of leader Annapolis needs in the 1990s and beyond.

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