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Action Annapolis debuts City Council candidate video interviews ahead of primary elections

The nonpartisan voter outreach organization Action Annapolis has released a series of video interviews with City Council candidates this week ahead of the Sept. 21 primary elections.

Eleven of the 15 candidates who are seeking eight council seats participated in the project called #GoVoteAnnapolis, meant to increase voters’ awareness of the candidates and highlight the issues they are campaigning on. The interviews were completed in partnership with ArtReach, the Maryland Hall outreach program.

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“Our objective has always been to try what we could to inform people, engage them and then expand the voting base,” said Sonia Feldman of Action Annapolis. “It comes from a feeling of wanting to empower the communities, and wanting to make them feel that they are relevant and that they have the opportunity to really have an impact.”

The videos can be viewed at www.actionannapolis.com.

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Each range between 15 and 20 minutes in length. Comacell Brown Jr., an Annapolis activist and artist, interviewed candidates about their background, why they are running and important issues in both their ward and the city broadly, such as housing, equity, crime and traffic.

“I think we forget that people throughout the city have different needs, different concerns,” Feldman said. “I think it’s a way to make people aware of other Annapolitans and other communities. It’s just remarkable how little we know about communities that are very different from ours, even if they’re, like, a quarter of a mile away.”

Kenneth Starkes, head of the Annapolis youth organization Hood2Good, directed the videos, which are broken down into three segments filmed in three locations throughout each ward. Starkes said the project was eye-opening in helping tie the disparate parts of Annapolis together through the interviews.

Four candidates declined to participate, including three Republicans, Monica Manthey in Ward 5, George Gallagher in Ward 6 and Rock Toews in Ward 8. Toni Strong Pratt, a Democrat running in Ward 4 also declined.

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In all, seven Democratic incumbents are seeking reelection in Ward 1, Ward 3, Ward 4, Ward 5, Ward 6, Ward 7 and Ward 8. Four Republicans are running unopposed in Ward 2, Ward 5, Ward 6 and Ward 8.

There are three contested Democratic primary elections this year. No Republican races are contested.

In Ward 3, incumbent Rhonda Pindell-Charles will face Keanuú Smith-Brown.

In Ward 4, incumbent Sheila Finlayson has a rematch with Pratt, whom she narrowly defeated in 2017.

In Ward 8, incumbent Ross Arnett will take on Kati George. The winner will face Toews in the general election.

Elly Tierney in Ward 1 and Rob Savidge in Ward 7 are unopposed in seeking second terms on the council.

Democrat Karma O’Neill in Ward 2 will face Republican Scott Gibson to fill the seat vacated by the retiring Fred Paone.

In Ward 5, Democratic incumbent Brooks Schandelmeier will be matched up against Manthey.

Ward 6 will feature a rematch from a 2019 special election between Democrat DaJuan Gay and Gallagher.

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