Former Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides is jumping back into politics.
The Republican, who served one term as mayor from 2013 to 2017, has filed to run for Anne Arundel County Council in District 6. Incumbent Democrat Lisa Brannigan Rodvien has also filed for reelection to the seat.
District 6 includes the city of Annapolis, the Naval Academy, Annapolis Neck, Parole and Crownsville.
Pantelides and Rodvien are the only candidates for this seat as of now, though the filing deadline was extended to March 22.
“I’m a husband and a father. I’m a lifelong resident, and I want to make real change in our community,” Pantelides said in an interview Wednesday. “I think Anne Arundel County can do better than what we’ve done over the last four years and I have a unique perspective and experience to help change the county.”
In 2013 at age 30, Pantelides erupted onto the local political scene, becoming the second-youngest mayor of Annapolis ever by narrowly defeating Josh Cohen, an incumbent Democrat.
He was the first Republican elected to the job in more than a decade. But, despite having institutional support and the backing of then-County Executive Steve Schuh, Pantelides lost his reelection bid in a landslide to Gavin Buckley in 2017.
Four years later, Pantelides, 38, said he’s running County Council on a platform of putting “families and communities first,” focusing on issues like lowering taxes, addressing overdevelopment, improving public safety, prioritizing education and protecting the environment.
“When you look at government, people feel like they’re not being heard. They feel like [current legislators] put everything from developers’ interests, or other political interests, before their own. People want to feel like they actually have a say in what goes on.”
He would achieve his goals by listening to what residents want and prioritizing the county’s budget process around that feedback, Pantelides said.
“Basically, what can we do to improve the lives of everyday working men and women in Anne Arundel County,” he said. “I think that starts with reducing the tax burden, putting increased investment on public safety and world-class education.”
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Last year, there were calls for him to challenge Buckley and reclaim the job. But after months of speculation, Pantelides chose not to run, citing the time commitment and family concerns. Instead, Steven Strawn, the GOP central committee chair, ran and lost to Buckley.
Being mayor was his dream job, Pantelides said. He will gladly point to the successes he had in office, such as the replacement of the bulkhead at City Dock and the sale of the Eisenhower Golf Course in Crownsville, as examples of what he could do as a council member. He also ordered the city to restart inspections of public housing units, implemented a police body camera program and hired an African-American and Hispanic liaison in the mayor’s office.
“I’m not going to lie, there was a lot more I wanted to get done in a second term,” he said.
Some supporters have urged Pantelides to consider a run for state delegate or senator, but he saw a campaign for County Council as “the best way to give back to the community” while also retaining his full-time job. Since he left office, Pantelides has served as the executive director of the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance in the Maryland Department of Labor, which connects Maryland business owners with state resources.
A third-generation Annapolitan, Pantelides’ grandparents arrived from Greece and Cyprus in the 1940s and opened The Royal Restaurant. Pantelides’ father John unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the 1980s before becoming a senior campaign adviser to County Executive Laura Neuman last decade.
In his 20s, the younger Pantelides dabbled in politics as an at-large member of the Annapolis Republican Central Committee, managed David Cordle’s unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2009 and Jerry Cave’s campaign for state senate in 2010. He also served as president of the Germantown-Homewood Civic Association.
Before being mayor, Pantelides worked for a software company selling government relations programs and previously sold advertising for newspapers, including The Capital Gazette and Baltimore Sun.