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Three Cheers for Politicians

No cheers for citizens who complain about the work they won’t do

If you want to get into politics, Annapolis sounds like the place to start.
    Thanks, Dr. Donna Chambers, for pointing out the corollary of this week’s feature stories on the Primary election upcoming in Annapolis: Stakes Are High, Players Few and Who Wants to Run City Hall?
    Move on in, newcomers. The field is wide open.
    For the nine elected jobs of running our capital city, only nine people are opposed in September 17’s primary.
    Five are seeking to be mayor, with two Democrats in competition against each other and three Republicans in their one-man-wins elimination race. Five is okay, offering the basics of competition in both parties. But it’s not beat down the doors. Nor is it as ample as the 2009 Primary, which brought out seven competitors on the Democratic side.
    Four candidates are seeking to be aldermen.
    You see the problem?
    It’s a double cluster.
    All are Democrats, running one against one in only two wards. Ward 1, downtown including the historic district and Clay Street, is full of opinion and activism, so that’s no surprise. Ward 2, West Annapolis and Admiral Heights, is a fine community full of issues and ideas. Competition is what you’d expect in both places.
    But what about the rest of the city? Is Eastport single-minded? Is the Forest Drive corridor, divided into several wards, free of controversy? Does Parole have no issues?
    If you know the answer, then the only question is why are so few people running to speak for themselves and their neighborhoods on how city life entangles their lives.
    Certainly Annapolitans have opinions. Ambition and achievement seem to run pretty high here, too. Huge uncounted numbers of city dwellers dedicate themselves to one aspect or another of city business. Yet mapping out our city’s future is a job with few takers.
    Is the work too hard? Certainly it’s time- and thought-consuming, Alderman Jared Littmann told me. Much more so than he anticipated when he decided to try for appointment to represent Ward 5 after its elected alderman quit mid-term. It demands hours that Littmann has plenty of other good uses for as a family man, a businessman and a New York Yankees fan.
    Is the work rewarding? Absolutely, Littmann said, in how it lights up his brain and in the involvement it gives him in the life of the city.
    Littmann longs for competition, for he is working without the authority of the voters. Yet he gets to sit out the Primary. No other Democrat wants his job. Come November, he’ll get his chance before the voters, against Republican William L. Day Jr., who also has no Primary competition in Ward 5.
    So if you’re seeking to get into politics, move to Annapolis. Get involved in local issues over the next few years. The years pass quickly, so 2017 isn’t very far away.
    Your chance may come even sooner. Two of 2009’s eight elected aldermen left office before their terms ended.

*     *     *

    So what is it about voting we don’t like?
    Is it our scorn for politicians?
    The very term is widely used as synonymous with scum. We hate them sui generis, and we heap on triple scoops of spite when they prove themselves as peculiar and faulty as the rest of us. (Okay, maybe some politicians are a little weirder than you and me.)
    Of course it’s a lot easier to find fault with somebody else’s decision than to put ourselves in the hot seat.
    When we give politicians scorn and blame, is it any wonder so few people want to run?
    I vote we tone down the complaining.
    And if you live in Annapolis, vote September 17.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com