A group of companies, developers and attorneys associated with major development projects in Eastport have thrown their financial support behind the Democratic City Council challenger in Ward 8 ahead of Tuesday’s city primary election.
Kati George, who is hoping to unseat incumbent Ross Arnett, has received about $4,500 in campaign contributions from several individuals and companies associated with the redevelopment of South Annapolis Yacht Centre and partial redevelopment of Eastport Shopping Center, campaign finance reports show.
Alan Hyatt, an Annapolis attorney working on both projects, gave George $500. Phil Dales, another attorney representing SAYC, gave $1,000, the maximum contribution for council candidates. Another $1,000 came from AV Maritime LLC, a company listed at 750 Boucher Ave., the address of SAYC.
Two companies related to the Lofts at Eastport Landing redevelopment, SPRE Eastport LLC and Eastport Plaza LLC, gave $500 apiece. Hammond Wilson Architects, the architecture firm hired to design the shopping center project, donated $1,000.
Leo Wilson, principal at Hammond Wilson, said his firm contributed to George because, in their view, change is needed in Eastport.
“I’m looking for someone who won’t necessarily do the popular thing but will do the right thing because oftentimes I find that what I believe is the right thing for the greater good and Annapolis is not what elected officials are hearing. They’re hearing from people who are trying to avoid any change,” he said. “I am interested in people who are willing to have an open dialogue about what would be better for the community at large and not necessarily the vocal constituents that are oftentimes in opposition of any type of change.”
Attempts to reach Hyatt, Dales and representatives from the various companies were unsuccessful Thursday.
The donations account for about half of the $8,944 in contributions George received since she jumped into the race in June.
“My entire life I have worked with the business community. I don’t see them as an enemy or as having horns coming out of their heads,” George said in an interview Thursday. “My overarching principle is to listen to all voices. They have voices and want to be heard.”
George added that she has made it clear that any money she accepts does not imply that she has adopted their agenda or special interests. She said she recently declined a $1,000 donation from a potential contributor after they told her the money would come with a contingency once she was elected.
“I insist they make donations because they are in alignment with my personal values and they believe in my mission,” said George, who has decades of professional auditing experience and is a member of the Annapolis Audit Committee.
Her donations, 34 in all, average about $263. About one-third have addresses in Ward 8; a handful came from Texas where George moved from in 2017.
George’s opponent, Ross Arnett said he never accepts money from developers or associated attorneys, only friends and/or constituents.
Arnett’s campaign finance reports mostly bear out that ethos. More than half his donors are Ward 8 residents, and some are prominent figures in the ward and across the city. Across the two reports filed thus far, Arnett has received 65 individual donations that average about $190 apiece.
“That leaves me to be free and not beholden to anyone,” he said.
Dick Franyo, owner of Boatyard Bar & Grill, has donated $1,000; Debra Dillon, past president of the Eastport Civic Association, gave $100.
Two former council members who previously served with Arnett, Joe Budge and Jared Littman, gave $250 and $100, respectively.
Bruce Bereano, a Annapolis lobbyist who lives in Ward 1, gave $400 to Arnett’s campaign. Arnett said he wasn’t aware that Bereano had donated and said he planned to discuss with his campaign team about returning the donation.
Other contested Democratic races
Democrats from two other contested races in Ward 3 and Ward 4 have continued to make a fundraising push with less than a week remaining until the Annapolis primary elections on Tuesday.
In Ward 4, incumbent Sheila Finlayson received $1,660 in donations compared to $1,525 reported by her challenger Toni Strong Pratt.
Finlayson’s 38 individual donations average about $152 each. Strong Pratt’s average donation across 111 contributions is about $81.
Both candidates have received the majority of their donations from outside Ward 4, including contributions from fellow candidates. Finlayson received $250 from Ward 5 Democrat Brooks Schandelmeier’s campaign. Ward 3 Democrat Keanuú Smith-Brown gave Strong Pratt’s campaign $15.
Former council members, Cynthia Carter and Del. Shaneka Henson, D-Annapolis, donated $400 and $100, respectively, to Strong Pratt.
In Ward 3, Rhonda Pindell-Charles pulled in $759 from outside donors and contributed $3,300 of her own money to her campaign, her report shows. She has about $2,960 on hand after spending more than $6,500 on mailers and door hangers.
Pindell-Charles has received about 94 individual contributions averaging about $65 each; more than half come from within her ward.
Her opponent, Keanuú Smith-Brown, who so far has raised the third-most money among council candidates, added an additional $4,126, his report shows. He’s now received almost $22,000, including donations from Maryland political figures as well, such as Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd, and the campaigns of Montgomery County Del. Gabriel Acevero and Prince George’s Del. Julien Ivey.
Across 362 individual donations, the most amount any candidate, his average contribution is about $59. Only about 25 contributions came from addresses within Ward 3, however. The rest come from other wards, other cities in Maryland such as Baltimore, Bethesda, Greenbelt and from places as far away as San Diego, California, Miami Beach, Florida and Seattle, Washington.
Republicans help each other out
With no contested primaries, Republican candidates have continued to campaign for the Nov. 2 general election.
Three council candidates have relied on party allies to bolster their campaign funds.
Rockford Toews, in Ward 8; George Gallagher, in Ward 6; and Monica Manthey in Ward 5, all received $500 and $250, respectively from Herb McMillan, an Anne Arundel county executive candidate, and Annapolis resident; and Michael Dye, the vice-chair of the Annapolis Republican Central Committee.
Toews has $838.50 on hand; Manthey has about $2,200.
Gallagher, who has about $2,727 in the bank, received another $500 from Bill Kardash, chairman of Annapolitans for A Better Community, an advocacy group focused on city budgetary and governance matters, and $50 from Stacey Crown a member of the city GOP committee.
Kardash’s wife Judi has made the maximum contribution of $1,000 to Ward 2 candidate Scott Gibson, who has far outraised his fellow party members with more than $23,100 on hand, reports show.
Republican mayoral candidate Steven Strawn had a strong showing after not breaking $1,000 in his first report. He pulled in nearly $4,200 since Aug. 23, thanks to contributions similar to those the council candidates received from McMillan and Dye, plus contributions from Republican central committee members, including Crown, Janet Katz and Mary Beth Chipkevich.
Democrats who do not have primary opponents automatically become their party’s nominee in November but that hasn’t stopped them from fundraising.
Ward 2 Democrat Karma O’Neill raised the most money of any candidate in the reporting period with $8,505. Across two reporting periods, she’s received 120 individual contributions for an average of about $121.
Incumbent Mayor Gavin Buckley has received about $3,200 in donations and spent just over $7,000 during the last reporting period. His campaign has about $70,000 on hand. Since June 2020, Buckley has received 379 donations for an average of about $332 per contribution.
Unopposed Democrat Elly Tierney in Ward 1 has received $972 in contributions and spent about $440. Ward 7′s Rob Savidge, also unopposed, has received no new contributions and spent about $500.
Schandelmeier in Ward 5 continues to lead all council candidates with $24,379 in cash on hand, reporting an additional $275 in the new report.
In Ward 6, DaJuan Gay has filed a second straight report with no new contributions. He has about $4,000 on hand from his 2019 special election campaign.
The next contribution reports are due Oct 5.