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Our say: Spotlight on growth as city election nears

Our say: Growth, Crystal Spring likely to be key issues in next city election

At the risk of triggering a groan echoing from Brooklyn Park to Deale and from Fort George G. Meade to Sandy Point:

Another election is coming up.

For those still reading: Next year's Annapolis election will pick the mayor and the eight aldermen. Growth and development are certain to be major issues, with Mayor Mike Pantelides' position on the proposed Crystal Spring mixed-use development likely to loom as large as then-Mayor Josh Cohen's stance on development at City Dock four years ago.

Crystal Spring's opponents have done a good job of keeping the heat on the developers, who have already scaled down their plans several times. Some of those opponents just want those plans cut back more; others will keep fighting as long as something more substantial than a sod hut is proposed for the property on highly traveled Forest Drive.

Now the other side is starting to mobilize. A group called Annapolitans for Responsible Development, describing itself as a "coalition of small-business owners, civic activists and residents that are concerned about the lack of economic growth in Annapolis," has been organized to push efforts to bring more businesses to the city and raise property tax revenues. Crystal Spring, seen as a source of hundreds of jobs, is definitely on the agenda.

As lines are drawn, things will only get harder for Pantelides, who has made a point of being pro-business — and pro-increased property tax revenue — but has also tried to find a middle position on Crystal Spring. It will be interesting to see what he does as his bid for a second term draws nearer, and how the aldermanic candidates line up on the issue.

Back in view

On Feb. 3, soon after Martin O'Malley had to scrap his sputtering campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, we commented that the former Maryland governor had been at a disadvantage because "voters currently seem allergic to the whole notion of political experience. They want talk about overthrowing the system."

Not a bad observation in light of subsequent events, was it?

In any case, O'Malley has popped back into view by expressing interest in the job of chairman of the Democratic National Committee — the official who will have the thankless task of trying to help the party rally after a devastating presidential loss, coupled with minority status in Congress and a declining voice in state houses and governor's mansions.

O'Malley is a long shot, since the party's ascendant liberal wing seems to be coalescing around U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, an early endorser of the candidacy of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and the first Muslim in Congress. Howard Dean is also interested in the job.

Having been too liberal for many Marylanders — the reason they followed him with Gov. Larry Hogan — O'Malley may now be too conservative for his own party.

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