After a too-close-to-call election day, incumbent Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen lost by 59 votes to Republican challenger Mike Pantelides. The results of the election, held Tuesday, Nov. 5, were announced Friday night, Nov. 8.
“I was disappointed that the election didn’t go differently, but I have no regrets about the past four years,” Cohen said.
Absentee and provisional ballots ultimately decided the outcome with Pantelides winning with 3,934 votes to Cohen’s 3,875. It gives Annapolis its first Republican mayor since 1997.
“He’ll have my full support andcooperation to the extent that he wants it,” Cohen said. Speaking on Monday, he said the two planned to have lunch on Wednesday. While Cohen had priorities for his potential second term, he plans to let Pantelides run the show.
“The most important thing is he needs to be his own man,” Cohen said. “There’s going to be a lot of people encouraging him to do this and do that, and he needs to listen and get a lot of advice, but ultimately he needs to follow his own compass because he’s the only one who can make [the] decisions for himself.”
Looking back on his four years, Cohen counts averting bankruptcy for the city, balancing its budget and eliminating short-term borrowing among his top accomplishments. Under his administration, the city successfully reopened the historic Market House this past summer, which now features an eclectic variety of local food vendors. The circulator trolley he launched more than two years ago “has become an essential part of getting around downtown,” he said. But he had hoped for more.
“It’s not losing the election that’s frustrating, it’s that there were so many things I was looking forward to [with regard to] parking and transportation,” Cohen said. (He was working with a mobile provider to provide information about parking availability downtown in real time.)
One alderman, Ross Arnett, had discussed the idea of making the mayor a ceremonial position and giving the power to a city manager, a move that many interpreted as an attempt to curtail powers from the newly elected Republican mayor. Arnett, a Democrat, said he brought up the idea in the past as well as recently with other aldermen, but he does not plan to introduce any legislation, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Cohen thinks the current system should remain in place.
“The buck needs to stop with somebody who is directly accountable to the voters,” he said. “The council and I addressed this three-and-a-half years ago, and we achieved a good situation, where the city manager had to be credible and accountable and quantified.”