Voter turnout could hold key to mayoral election


Today's mayoral election in Annapolis may hinge on how many voters go to the polls.

That's the analysis of supporters of the three candidates, Democratic incumbent Alfred A. Hopkins, Republican Laurance Vincent and independent Dennis M. Callahan.

All three candidates promise to have volunteers on the streets encouraging registered voters to cast ballots and providing transportation to those who need it.

"In the end, it will come down to who is the most organized and gets their people to polls," said a Hopkins campaign worker.

"We've done everything we can. Now it's in the hands of the political gods," Mr. Vincent said.

Polling stations open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. In addition to mayor, voters from the city's eight wards will select their aldermen for the next four years.

Turnout for the Sept. 21 primary was light, less than 30 percent of the eligible voters, but interest in the campaigns has picked up since then, with thousands of residents registering, bringing the number of eligible voters to 16,000.

An official with the county Board of Election Supervisors said 1,200 signed up to vote in the final week before the Oct. 4 deadline.

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat, has waged a campaign to register new voters, particularly in the city's two predominantly black wards.

He said his goal is to have more than 1,000 voters participate within his district. Fewer than 300 votes were cast in Ward 5 in the Democratic and Republican primaries combined.

Mr. Hopkins is running on a record that includes construction of the Gotts Court parking garage, the creation of a recycling program and the staffing of a third ambulance in the city.

His opponents have questioned the incumbent's competence.

Mr. Vincent, a Main Street clothier who captured 41 percent of the vote in the 1989 mayoral race, said the mayor lacks a long-term plan for the city. He has emphasized his own plans for the city's economic development and to reduce the size of the city bureaucracy.

Mr. Callahan, a former mayor who lost the 1989 Democratic primary by 181 votes, said he would restore morale among city employees, particularly Annapolis' 100 police officers. Three of the city's four employee unions have endorsed Mr. Callahan. The police union did not make endorsements.

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