Monday, October 10, 2005

Who is Gilbert Renaut?

The darkhorse Independent candidate for Mayor of Annapolis, Gil Renaut, is for many, an unknown quantity. According to the Capital, Renaut is:

A 1968 St. John's College graduate who has lived in Annapolis [since the 1970s and in his current residence since 1984], Mr. Renaut said the growing affluence of new residents and visitors, combined with personal grudges among politicians, have hurt the city.

Mr. Renaut currently works as a trial lawyer for the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, though he plans to retire in September. Under federal law, government officials are barred from running on either party ticket.

His chief issue is growth from the city's changing demographics. Real-estate values in Annapolis have increased dramatically in the last 20 years as Annapolis has changed into a mecca for affluent commuters from Washington and Baltimore, wealthy retirees and business owners.

"Money talks, and it's ruining this town," he said.

He said he would like strict enforcement of zoning, Historic District standards and more services for residents rather than businesses, developers and visiting boaters.

[His] issues are very similar to [Mayor] Moyer's platform, which has championed minority recruitment, public safety, cultural and environmental programs and other quality of life issues during her first term.

Sounds like a promising possibility. Certainly dealing with growth and changing demographics in the city as well as a focus on residents first are all laudable priorities. To my mind, several key questions remain. First, this agenda does sounds remarkably similar to Mayor Moyer's who, while admittedly gruff and often hostile to constructive criticism, has moved the City along nicely the past four years (with a couple of exceptions). Second, if Renaut is basically "a kinder, gentler" Moyer, how beholden is he going to be to the notoriously conservative ringleaders of the Ward One Residents' Association.

Some fear we may have a case of Louise Hammond stepping down from the Council, and husband John plugging his marionette strings into the back of Mr. Renaut. What we don't need is a Mayor who thinks he's running the community association of some suburban hamlet, eternally out of the earshot of the sounds of a City alive with fellowship and commerce.

Those considering their support of Mr. Renaut are counting both on his political independence and his independence from some of the more regressive personalities he's been associated with in the past.



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