With a little less than three weeks to go before Christmas, it's beginning to look a lot like campaign season.
The primary elections to fill the recently vacated Ward 4 and Ward 8 seats on the Annapolis city council will be Jan. 2, with the general election to follow Jan. 30 and the swearing-in of the new aldermen Feb. 12, Mayor Ellen O. Moyer announced yesterday.
The schedule meets the requirements of the city charter, which calls for the primary to be held within 23 to 30 days of the vacancies, and the general election to follow 21 to 30 days later. But Moyer, who estimated that the elections would cost about $50,000, expressed concerns about swearing in two new members in the middle of budget talks.
"I'm less worried about the election and more concerned about the timing and the ability to help them learn the ropes at a crucial time," she said. "Everybody is going to be very busy, and it's a more demanding time."
Moyer added that she hoped people with community involvement and planning experience would "step up to the plate to serve citizens in another capacity."
Already, three people have announced intentions to run in Ward 8 in Eastport, a heavily Democratic area with about 4,500 residents. Democratic Alderman Josh Cohen resigned after he was elected to the County Council. He was sworn in Monday.
The candidates are Democrats Paul Foer, a transportation consultant and former city employee; Ross Arnett, outgoing president of the Eastport Civic Association and a retired senior government executive; and Republican Frank B. Bradley, a retired small-business owner and community activist.
Michael Matthews, an artist and former news director and producer who had expressed interest in the seat, said yesterday she would not run, given that the campaign overlaps with the holidays.
The field of candidates for the Ward 4 seat - vacated when Democrat Wayne M. Taylor took the top job Monday at the county Department of Aging and Disabilities - is less clear.
Democrat Kevin Tucker, a literacy instructor, said he would seek the seat in the predominantly African-American ward, which includes Newtowne 20, Bywater and Homewood.
Democrats Jeff Struss, a car salesman and president of a nonprofit organization that serves disadvantaged children, and Sheila Finlayson, former president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, are eyeing runs for office.
The winners will serve out the remaining three years of Cohen's and Taylor's terms.
Arnett described the campaign schedule as a mixed bag, saying absentee ballots could play a role because some voters might be out of town for the holidays.
"I think the tight schedule is a blessing," Arnett said. "But the day after New Year's, we hope people are over their hangovers."