The candidates for Annapolis City Council's 4th Ward agree that the city needs to bolster efforts to fight crime, better plan growth and cooperate with the county.
The only major area of disagreement arises over who is best for the job.
Democratic candidate Shepherd Tullier says his experience as a former Anne Arundel planner makes him the best-qualified candidate. Republican Joseph Sachs says his longtime business and civic experience, and the three months he has spent on the council in the seat left vacant by Ruth Gray, make him the better choice.
Because the candidates agree on most issues, community leaders say, the race will hinge on such factors as personality, weather, endorsements and even the positions of their names on the ballot.
"I would be hard put to make a choice," said Judy Dein, president of the Germantown-Homewood Civic Association, which has about 200 homes in Ward 4.
Both candidates are well known in the community, she noted.
"It's a tossup," said Gerald Bilderback, president of the Landings Civic Association, which has 88 homes in the ward.
No dramatic issues are gripping the voters of Ward 4, which lies in the western part of the city and is bounded by West Street, Tyler Avenue, Forest Drive and Legion Avenue. But residents are concerned with traffic congestion and a recent rash of burglaries. Both candidates stress the need to involve the community in fighting crime and say growth along the city-county line needs to be better planned.
Mr. Sachs said the city has lacked leadership to bring together diverse constituencies, such as businesses and homeowners. "We have developed a we-they mentality," he said.
In his short tenure, Mr. Sachs said, he has responded to residents' concerns by introducing an amendment to the Business Corridor Enhancement District plan that would help curb traffic congestion.
Mr. Tullier said that when reading Mr. Sachs' views on planning, he is struck by how similar their ideas are. "Sometimes he sounds like me," Mr. Tullier said. "But we have different backgrounds and experience and that's what separates us. I'm the planner."
Mr. Tullier, 45, graduated from St. Mary's High School and received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Maryland. In the early 1970s he worked at a variety of jobs, ranging from door-to-door salesman to waiter. In 1977, he took a job with the county as a water-quality engineer.
Mr. Tullier has held various jobs in the county's planning department, working on a number of comprehensive plans and overseeing development plans for Parole and Odenton. From 1991 until last summer, he was the county's comprehensive planning administrator.
He left after the government cut positions in the planning department, and he now runs his own consulting business.
His candidacy is supported by state Sen. Gerald Winegrad, an Annapolis Democrat, who urged Mr. Tullier to seek the seat once held by his father, Benjamin Winegrad. The elder Mr. Winegrad is Mr. Tullier's campaign manager.
He has been endorsed by the Black Officers Association, an organization of black Annapolis police officers, and the Black Political Forum.
Mr. Sachs, 59, is a longtime community activist and businessman. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in business and public administration. He was an assistant to Spiro Agnew in the 1960s, was general manager of the Baltimore Bullets basketball team, owned and operated a toy store, sold cars and was a substitute teacher. He currently owns the Peppercorn Gourmet cafe in Annapolis.
He served on the Annapolis Historic District Commission between 1981-1987 and as president of the Heritage Homeowners Association and the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Association. He recently was appointed to the Anne Arundel Drug Advisory Council.
He previously ran for the 4th Ward seat, but was defeated by Ms. Gray. When she resigned for family reasons, city Republicans appointed Mr. Sachs to complete her term.
Mr. Sachs is hoping that his three months in office will be sufficient to give him an incumbent's advantage. Mr. Tullier believes his candidacy was helped by his early exposure from winning a three-way primary.