Chesapeake Bay's Independent Newspaper ~ Since 1993

1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis, MD 21403 • 410-626-9888

Volume XVII, Issue 44 ~ October 29 - November 4, 2009

Home \\ Correspondence \\ from the Editor \\ Submit a Letter \\ Classifieds \\ Contact Us
Dining Guide \\ Home & Garden Guide \\ Archives \\ Distribution Locations \\ Advertising


Meet Annapolis’s Next Mayor

A Bay Weekly conversation with mayoral contenders Josh Cohen, Dave Cordle and Chris Fox

by editor Sandra Olivetti Martin

You may not get to vote in the hottest race in town. November 3 might not even be marked on your calendar as Election Day.

Only 37,000 people live in our capital city. A big turnout would bring a third out to vote for mayor and for aldermen and women.

Yet it’s a race that affects us all, in Chesapeake Country and throughout Maryland. For our capital city is our second home, and it can — indeed should — set the ideals we can all aspire to, in our communities and in our homes.

So whether or not you’ll vote November 3, you’ll want to hear what three men who would be mayor have to say for themselves.

• • •

Josh Cohen

36, a lifelong Annapolitan, lives in West Annapolis with wife Lesley and children ages one and five; city alderman for five years; county councilman for three; former parole and probation agent, now manages a $6.5 million, four-year Department of Justice grant to the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center to enhance victim services in Anne Arundel Country.

Bay Weekly Do you think you’ll win?

Josh Cohen I’ve been a city alderman for five years and a county councilman for three. For the most part, Annapolis voters know who I am and like what I’ve done. But there’s a different threshold when you’re asking for votes for mayor.

I’ve done some polling, and it shows me leading Dave Cordle by 15 points, with Chris Fox doing rather well. But there are a lot of undecided voters. I have to close the deal.

Bay Weekly What will it take to win this election?

Josh Cohen Winning in a head-to-head race takes 4,000 votes. In a three-way race, it’s hard to say. If ever an election was teed up for an independent, it’s this type, when there’s an undercurrent of change, the Democratic Party has had messes on its hands and the Republican candidate has been a member of the city council for eight years.

I think whoever wins will get a plurality and not a majority. Our target is 4,000 votes.

My focus in the remaining days is to convince voters how I’m the best to lead. That means not just how I’m going to change the tone of City Hall but also letting people know specifically what I’ll do to make city government more professional, reclaim city Market House and improve parking. Specifics: That’s what people are hungry to hear.

Bay Weekly Tell us about a success story that illustrates your executive and leadership skills.

Josh Cohen As alderman, I spearheaded the first comprehensive review of Eastport special zoning legislation in 15 years. In general, people supported the goal of preserving the character of the neighborhood, but the details got divisive. Everybody wants their neighbor zoned but not themselves.

I instituted a process wherein the appointed task force of trusted members of the community listened to and shared their recommendations with the public. When I introduced the legislation, it received near unanimous support from the Eastport Civic Association.

That illustrates how I’ll approach issues as mayor. City Hall seems to have had a deaf ear to residents, so regardless of the merits of the proposal — higher parking charges, the sidewalk tax, the Arts and Entertainment District — people feel City Hall has not listened to them.

One way I want to be transparent is that I want people to be aware of what’s going on and for initiatives to have real public vetting before council action.

Bay Weekly A key achievement of Ellen Moyer’s administration has been moving the city toward environmental sustainability. What mission will inspire your administration?

Josh Cohen Looking back four years from now, I want to have accomplished several things.

One, to get a handle on budgetary and management challenges that face the city right away by getting City Hall working and delivering services more efficiently.

Two, economic development. I want to look back not four years but six months from now and identify specific successes in recruiting and retaining small businesses, not only on Main Street but also on Clay Street and Forest Drive.

Third, I want to make a more livable city.

I look at City Dock as an example. The prime piece of real estate in Annapolis is 90 percent occupied by cars. People park and leave. What I want to do, and it’s a five- or 10-year goal in terms of funding, is reclaim City Dock as a village green so that locals have a real destination. That’s good not only for people but as an economic generator for downtown, which cannot survive just on tourism.

Bay Weekly You’ll also be mayor of the capital of Maryland. What will you do to give Marylanders pleasure and pride in visiting their second hometown?

Josh Cohen One is an overall transit system so that parking and traffic are not such headaches. That includes not just cars and busses but mobility overall. If we want people to enjoy this beautiful walking city laid out 300 years ago, before cars, we need to invest more in sidewalks, for example.

Two, to better define and promote distinct identities for each of our commercial neighborhoods. Competing with Parole is not imitating what’s there but doing a better job of defining our unique shopping experiences.

• • •

Dave Cordle

51; a lifelong Annapolitan with a family history of government service, raised four children with wife Michele; retired from the Army Reserves as a lieutenant colonel; works as an investigator in the State’s Attorney’s office; city alderman for eight years.

Bay Weekly Do you think you’ll win?

Dave Cordle Yes, I do. I think once voters stand our records up against each other, they’re going to see that I have experience, leadership and commitment to our city.

Bay Weekly What are you doing to win this election?

Dave Cordle Knocking on doors, making phone calls, networking and pushing hard not only with my base but all across the board. I say Annapolis is not two cities but three, including the Hispanic community. A lot of candidates seem to forget the lower-income neighborhoods. I’m visiting all those neighborhoods, I’m head of the program committee for the Boys and Girls Club and I’ve been endorsed by leaders in those communities, who are working with me to get out the vote.

I’m a Republican by party, but I’m first an Annapolitan with a vision for Annapolis.

Bay Weekly What mission will inspire your administration?

Dave Cordle I’ve always been taught, and also taught my four children, to leave something better than when you found it. I have to leave this city in much better fiscal, social and environmental condition. Public safety has been my life, so reducing crime is a goal, as is helping to keep our Bay, rivers and streams cleaner and making our city more one Annapolis by understanding each other’s culture and being more open and tolerant.

Bay Weekly Tell us about a success story that illustrates your executive and leadership skills.

Dave Cordle As a leader: In the U.S. Army Reserve, I commanded three units. With the second deployed in 1996 to a Bosnian peace-keeping mission, I was responsible for the lives of 35 soldiers as young as 18 and as old as 61 and a multimillion-dollar equipment inventory that was an important operational aspect of the supply chain that kept the mission going. The unit received great honor and a number of medals to myself and the soldiers after nine months of very hard work living in tents in the heat of summer and the dead of winter.

One of the important things I learned as a young commander and an adage I’ll use with the city, if you ignore your troops, they will go away. I took care of my soldiers and they of me, and they haven’t forgotten. That lesson will parlay well in providing vision and leadership for the city.

As an investigator in 1995, I solved a 26-year-old homicide of a 19-year-old St. John’s sophomore murdered on a Statehouse park bench on November 10, 1968. After a party, she’d wandered off to get something to eat at Colonial Kitchen. At 1:30 in the morning she was eating her pizza when a young man attempted to rob her, shot her once in the head and left her to die. She had a nickel in her pocket.

Editor’s note: In an update on cold cases, the commander of the Annapolis criminal investigation unit remembered seeing an arrest report on a long-sought witness who identified the shooter and led Cordle to the Glen Burnie law office where the two men had stolen a gun all those years ago. The killer, Cordle later found, had died of a drug overdose in 1985.

Bay Weekly What will you do to give Marylanders pleasure and pride in visiting their second hometown?

Dave Cordle My great-grandfather was an alderman back in the ’30s (and my great-grandmother city clerk). So I know traffic and parking have been problems in this town built for horses and buggies as long as we’ve had vehicles. I’m trying to make it more accessible, navigable for tourists and people who live here. That’s a huge challenge because we have to improve our own transportation department and we have to partner better with the county and state, which control several of our major thoroughfares, which also happen to be gateways to the city.

• • •

Chris Fox

36; one of 16 children; unmarried; owner with a brother of two Sly Fox Taverns, in Annapolis and Baltimore’s Federal Hill; lives in Homewood.

Bay Weekly Do you think you’ll win?

Chris Fox I have a good chance. I wouldn’t have gotten into the race two years ago if I did not.

If voters insist on voting based on government experience, they cannot expect anything other than business as usual. Political parties are polar on issues on the national level outside the boundaries of mayor. I hope and believe voters agree this election should be decided on who has the best ideas for Annapolis. If they want to take Annapolis back from the status quo, I’m the clear choice.

Bay Weekly What are you doing to win this election?

Chris Fox Knock on doors and be personal. That’s the common advice I’ve gotten from experienced people. So I’ve gone door to door every day for the last month and a half and off and on for the last seven months. Plus I’ve gone to all the forums and to meet-and-greets.

Bay Weekly Tell us about a success story that illustrates your executive and leadership skills.

Chris Fox I have worked my whole life, so I believe success stories in life make people better candidates for public office.

I successfully owned and operated three restaurants in three different cities — D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis — simultaneously, with revenues of a few million dollars. That takes incredible multi-tasking skills and fiscal responsibility.

I have not managed an $86 million budget before. But I have run businesses with large staffs, doing payroll and budgeting, all with my own penny and not the taxpayers’ dollars, and that gives me an advantage.

Bay Weekly What mission will inspire your administration?

Chris Fox I want it to be said that I ran our city’s budget as a business … made Annapolis more business and environmentally friendly … increased tourism by bringing more festivals to downtown and improving transportation … brought recycling to the business community … improved water quality by mandating storm water to be captured by any new or redeveloped commercial properties.

I want it also to be said that Chris Fox lived up to his promise to actually help individuals who live in public housing to end dependence on the federal government and end a generation of complacence — instead of being the typical elected official who sticks his head in the sand.

Bay Weekly What will you do to give Marylanders pleasure and pride in visiting their second hometown?

Chris Fox One of the most important things the mayor can do is to keep a good relationship with the historical [community] to preserve our historic nature. Annapolis has kept its colonial structure, and that makes it a unique place to visit and one of the biggest reasons people come here. So I’m looking forward to continuing a good relationship with them in preserving our history, and that makes Marylanders proud.

© COPYRIGHT 2009 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.