Children, housing are issues key to city's Ward 6 election


To Alderman Wayne T. Turner, a Ward 6 Republican, Tuesday's Annapolis city election is about helping his neighbors. To his Democratic opponent, Kenneth A. Kirby, it is a matter of his neighbors' survival.

Mr. Turner has based his campaign for a second term on his record of constituent service, while Mr. Kirby, who grew up in the public housing community of Obery Court, says he is concerned about the future of the children who live there now.

Mr. Kirby got a college education and became a supervisor in the housing authority in Boston, then returned to Annapolis three years ago. But he fears that stories like his are becoming increasingly rare.

"We are letting our children run amok," said Mr. Kirby, 38, a recreation assistant with the Annapolis Housing Authority. "Then we throw them away too easily."

Mr. Kirby, who lives on Primrose Road a stone's throw from where he grew up, said that Alderman Turner has not done enough to help the children in the Eastport ward's two public housing projects.

Public housing and the performance of the city Housing Authority have been pivotal themes in this year's campaign for the ward, one of the most racially and economically diverse in the city.

Alderman Turner, 39, criticized the management of the city Housing Authority at a news conference Oct. 4 and proposed that the City Council and public housing residents play a greater role in the operation of the town's 1,509 public and subsidized housing units.

Mr. Turner, a Conley Road resident seeking his second term, said the authority has mismanaged federal money and has been unable to deal with drug-related crime in those communities.

Officials with the authority immediately dismissed the criticism, which Mr. Turner based on a six-month-old report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as election-year politics.

Crime in Eastport Terrace and Harbour House already had become an issue in March when city officials moved the ward's polling site from the Eastport United Methodist Church to the Eastport Terrace community center.

Although the community center is more centrally located, Alderman Turner opposed the move, arguing that many voters may avoid the polls out of fear.

Mr. Kirby said the alderman's attitude has helped perpetuate hurtful stereotypes.

"I don't think because you are poor and black it should be synonymous with crime," Mr. Kirby said.

"That attitude is prevalent in some parts of this city. Well, I'm a living example it isn't true."

Mr. Kirby, who managed a large housing complex in Boston, said he would use public office as a vehicle to reform the public housing communities and invest in the young.

A former professional basketball player in Europe, Mr. Kirby helped 23 Annapolis High School students avoid expulsion last year by creating a mentoring program for them with black VTC professional men.

Supporters of Mr. Turner, who rose through the traditional ranks of the GOP, say he is a tireless worker for his constituents, including those in public housing.

He successfully lobbied the council to block the expansion of a Baltimore Gas & Electric substation on Tyler Avenue after residents expressed fears that electromagnetic emissions increased the risk of cancer. A circuit judge later ordered the city to grant BG&E; a permit.

The alderman cites passage of a city law requiring taxi drivers to take annual drug tests as his greatest achievement in office.

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