Capital Gazette Endorses Mike Pantelides
Have you heard?
The Capital Gazette endorsed Mayor Mike for reelection in the Primary.
Our say: Our endorsements for mayor: Pantelides, Buckley
He may have just one vote on the City Council, but the mayor oversees City Hall and sets a course for the entire community in a way not possible for even the most dedicated alderman. The choice of mayor every four years is the clearest indication of the direction preferred by a majority of voters.
Mayor Mike Pantelides’ four-year record shows clearly what voters can expect in the next four: He’ll work his way down a checklist of needed city improvements while pursuing the generally cautious fiscal and management course he has set. It’s a record Pantelides deserves a chance to defend in a general election.
And, with all due respect for the decades of public service of the other Democratic candidate, state Sen. John Astle, it’s a record that can be most productively contrasted with the campaign of entrepreneur Gavin Buckley, who has made a point of looking for new paths toward revitalization, a more attractive and accessible downtown and increased community participation.
The biggest political story in Annapolis in the last four years may be the growth of Mike Pantelides. Annapolitans got a better mayor than they had any right to expect when they turned out an incumbent in favor of a personable 30-year-old former software salesman who had never held an elective office or run a business.
Pantelides credits himself with having gotten the developers of the original Crystal Spring mixed-use plan to fold their tents. He has also managed to avoid property tax increases — at the cost of too much debt, his critics say — as well as reorganize city government, cut solid waste fees, bring in a new parking and garage contractor and make badly needed first steps toward flood mitigation.
There are weak spots in this record, some of them pointed out by Pantelides’ Republican opponent, attorney Nevin Young. But beyond this, Young has failed to make a compelling case for himself as an alternative.
Former Marine helicopter pilot Astle narrowly lost an Annapolis mayoral election in 1981, before compiling an admirable 35-year record of representing this area in the General Assembly. His main antidote for what he calls Pantelides’ “rudderless” style of government is better management. Buckley has some good ideas, Astle says, but the budget is the foundation. Yet Astle has built his reputation as a legislator, not an administrator.
Buckley went from a waiter to the owner of a number of restaurants, and has been a central figure in the revitalization of West Street and the growth of the city’s arts community. He has been the one to point most directly to the city’s problems in keeping downtown businesses, to the folly of giving the finest water views at City Dock to parked cars and to the need to rethink transportation infrastructure. He has not hesitated to say things that won’t be well received by some voters — for instance, that the city needs not more police officers, but ones that are better used. It has been a brave and passionate campaign, and the movement Buckley now represents — even if it doesn’t prevail this year — will be a force in city politics.
While Astle has much to recommend him and might be a fine mayor, the best use of the general election campaign would be a debate between the contrasting approaches represented by Pantelides and Buckley. We endorse Gavin Buckley and Mike Pantelides in Tuesday’s primary.