The past and present mayors of Annapolis sparred last night for the right to govern the city for the next four years.
Democratic Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins and former Mayor Dennis Callahan, an independent, attacked each other's records as the city's chief executive in a debate sponsored by the Annapolis Jaycees and aired on local cable television.
Organizers announced moments before the debate, which was held in the General Assembly's Department of Legislative Services Hearing Room, that Republican candidate Larry Vincent would not attend because of sudden illness in his family.
Mr. Hopkins strongly defended himself against charges that he is incompetent and relies on City Administrator Michael Mallinoff to run the government.
"I don't think there is any question I am not a competent mayor," he said. He cited $150,000 in new subsidies that he got from the county and federal governments to operate city buses and to run police substations in public housing communities as examples of his competence.
Later, he added, "I can't help what other people think, but I will tell you, I run this city. I run this city. I don't know how to prove that except to say that I run this city."
Mr. Callahan responded: "Al, if you run this city, why are we paying Mallinoff $70,000 to run this city?"
Mr. Callahan noted that Mr. Mallinoff is paid about $30,000 more than his former chief assistant, Frank Marzucco.
Mr. Callahan defended his reputation for being confrontational when he was mayor from 1985 to 1989. He lost to Mr. Hopkins in the 1989 Democratic primary.
"I made some mistakes during that time. I took some political battles personally, something I wouldn't have done in business," said Mr. Callahan, who founded and later sold medical testing and tuxedo businesses.
"In these debates, both my opponents have left me opportunities that I would have jumped on with both feet four years ago," he said. "You may not be able to recognize it, but I'm exercising some control up here."
The two candidates also disagreed over law enforcement. Mr. Callahan said morale problems were affecting enforcement.
6* Mr. Hopkins said crime was decreasing.