IF CARL O. SNOWDEN weren't an Annapolis alderman, where he lives would not be of much concern to local citizens.
But by running for elective office in a city that has a residency requirement, his domicile becomes an appropriate subject for careful scrutiny.
For if Mr. Snowden doesn't live in Ward 5, he would not meet the requirements to represent that district in the Annapolis council.
Mr. Snowden owns two houses and uses both, creating confusion. He maintains that his residence is in the 900 block of Royal Street in Ward 5, yet his driver's license and telephone listing show his address as Garden Gate Lane in Annapolis' Ward 4.
The alderman says that when his driver's license came up for renewal, he decided to use the Garden Gate Lane address because he knew he would be returning to live there after the 1997 election.
He also maintains that the telephone is there for his convenience when he is working on the house, which used to be a rental property but is now vacant. Mr. Snowden says any suggestions that he lives in Ward 4 are not only wrong but generated by his political enemies.
As Mr. Snowden is in the final months of his third term, any attempt to disqualify him from office would drag on long after his term ends. His intention to run for mayor of Annapolis has apparently stirred his political enemies. This residency question does, indeed, raise concerns about the alderman's credibility and his truthfulness with voters.
A 1984 attorney general's opinion lists 20 criteria by which to judge legal domicile. These include voting registration, MVA registration, federal and state tax filings, property ownership, employment, banking and business dealings, mail deliveries, frequency of visits and where the person is best known.
Mr. Snowden can complain that the controversyabout his residency is contrived by his political foes, but he must admit that he is responsible for creating the confusion.
If Mr. Snowden wants to put this issue to rest, the best avenue is to ask the city's board of elections to make a final determination. A ruling by the board ought to resolve questions about the Annapolis alderman's true domicile once and for all.
Pub Date: 4/23/97