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City Election Outcome – A Mixed Bag for the Environment

The Sierra Club backed candidates in three city council races in Annapolis November 5. Two of them were challenging entrenched incumbents and lost by narrow margins. The third endorsed candidate, himself an incumbent, won big.

The club made no endorsement in the mayoral race, which pitted incumbent Josh Cohen and challenger – and eventual winner – Mike Pantelides. For more details on that race, why we made no endorsement, and how it was impacted by the controversy over the Crystal Spring development, see page 2, November 12 Capital column by group chair David Prosten.

The group’s endorsed winner was Ward 7’s Ian Pfeifer, who’d also won the club’s support when he first ran in 2009. He handily beat challenger James Clenney.

The group’s two disappointing losses were by longtime environmentalist and activist Kurt Riegel, who challenged incumbent Fred Paeone in Ward 2. Riegel lost by only 43 votes out of 1,532 cast. The group’s other endorsed candidate, Steven Conn in Ward 6, also lost by a narrow margin, 61 votes out of 606 cast. He was trying to unseat incumbent Kenny Kirby.

Four candidates were unchallenged, so the club did not consider them in the endorsement process.

The Pantelides campaign distributed a mailer to all voters a few days before the election that some readers took, mistakenly, as an endorsement by the Club. It included a quote from a Maryland Chapter email message to its members critical of incumbent Cohen, printed with it a Sierra Club logo. The campaign had not asked the club for permission to use either the quote or, especially, the Trademarked logo. The Group has referred the illegal use of the logo to Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco. The Capital and WRNR radio reported on the incident.

The Pantelides campaign piece also contained a quote and logo from the city-appointed Annapolis Environmental Commission, and that group’s chair, Ted Weber, complained of the tactic as well.