Annapolis voters are lucky: For the first time in years, all eight of their aldermanic races are contested, with most candidates having something to offer the city.
Our endorsements for Wards 1 through 4 follow. On tomorrow's editorial page, we will comment on the races in Wards 5 through 8.
* Ward 1: In the downtown historic district, incumbent Republican John Hammond is seeking a fifth term against architect Craig Purcell. These intelligent men hold different visions of the future of downtown. Mr. Hammond has ensconced himself in the camp of residents fighting later bar hours, neon signs and touristy shops. Mr. Purcell espouses the refreshing view that it's time to defuse these feuds and attract more business.
Even though we find Mr. Purcell's message welcome after so many bitter debates, we still give the edge to Mr. Hammond. Some of his views on preservation are extreme, but the council needs his fiscal expertise; he bears a great deal of responsibility for the city's solid financial standing.
* Ward 2: Likable Democratic newcomer Richard Ackenback wants to unseat incumbent Dean Johnson, an independent seeking his second term. They agree on most issues, including opposition to commercial development along Rowe Boulevard. We support Mr. Johnson, due to his strenuous constituent service and involvement in major planning issues.
* Ward 3: Three-term incumbent Democrat Sam Gilmer is fending off Republican Steven C. Kerstetter, owner of a karate school.
Mr. Gilmer is best known for his stands on minority issues, but his record consists more of rhetoric than accomplishment. We endorse Mr. Kerstetter, who is committed to minority issues but also concerned about stemming divisiveness.
* Ward 4: Republican Joseph Sachs, appointed in August to fill a vacant seat, and Democrat Shepard Tullier both want more community involvement to fight crime and better planning to control traffic. Mr. Sachs boasts an impressive history of civic activism. But Mr. Tullier's 15 years as a county planner gives him an expertise that the council needs.
In Wards 1 through 4 for Annapolis City Council, The Sun endorses John Hammond, Dean Johnson, Steven Kerstetter and Shepard Tullier.