Who should be mayor of Annapolis for the next four years? The question can be answered only after Annapolitans decide what kind of a city they want to live in during the 1990s and beyond.
Most would agree that Maryland's state capital must strike a balance between its role as a historic tourist town and as a working city with a thriving economy. It should be a safe place. It should be a harmonious place, where citizens are not separated by class, race or their interests as business people and residents. It should be a place where traffic and growth are managed to preserve the quality of life.
When voters go the polls Nov. 2, they should look for a leader who recognizes the problems that stand in the way of this vision, and who can build a consensus to confront them.
Mayor Alfred Hopkins, the Democratic incumbent up for re-election, has done some good things, including keeping the city in sound financial shape through a recession. But his main qualifications are that he grew up in Annapolis and is an awfully nice man. He is blind to some of the city's most serious troubles, such as racial tensions and the need for stronger law enforcement. His agenda is thin, and his unwillingness to lead hurts the city.
His predecessor, Dennis Callahan, is running as an independent to regain the seat he lost in 1989. He exudes leadership and has a strong grasp of Annapolis' strengths and weaknesses. He accomplished much as mayor. Yet his term is most remembered for the constant uproar he caused. Mr. Callahan was too divisive. He says he has learned from his errors, but his words and actions on the campaign trail leave us unconvinced.
The best choice in this election is Laurance Vincent, a Main Street clothier with a long history of civic activism. He's a Republican who has run for mayor, and lost, before. He is moderate, intelligent, likable and willing to lead. He has demonstrated reasoned and non-parochial approaches to explosive issues such as the expansion of the county jail. Perhaps most important for a city as diverse as Annapolis, he sees the need to bring polarized groups together to work toward compromise.
We disagree strongly with some of his views. He is more leery of tourism than an Annapolis mayor should be; tourism is the life breath of the city economy. Also, the moratorium he supports on 2 a.m. liquor licenses grants unfair advantage to existing taverns; if late-night drunks are causing problems, send police to enforce existing laws. Nonetheless, the city stands its best chance of moving peacefully forward with him at the helm.
The Sun endorses Larry Vincent for mayor of Annapolis.