City of Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides shocked many Annapolis residents when he recently referred to African-American constituents Robert Eades and William Rowell as “dogs” during a City Council hearing. The comment, made as part of a rebuke against Eades and Rowell for voicing public criticism, drew the condemnation of several, including the Editorial Board of The Capital Gazette.
However, this was not the first time the Mayor used coarse language to dismiss black voices during a City Council hearing. According to a 2014 report in Eye on Annapolis, Mike Pantelides responded to concerns voiced by former Alderwoman Classie Hoyle with a note to a City Council member saying, “Thanks for fucking me”.
In the City Council hearing, Classie Hoyle spoke passionately about the need for diverse voices to be included in policymaking decisions. She expressed concern that African-Americans were being excluded from the process, and cited dilapidated public housing and worsening public schools as key problems facing the black community. Alderman Ross Arnett (D, Ward 8) reacted to her testimony by asking her to continue the dialogue. In response, Mayor Pantelides wrote and hand-delivered the note to Arnett.
It is not clear why the Mayor reacted this way to Hoyle’s testimony. However, many of the concerns she raised during the 2014 hearing, such as dilapidated conditions in public housing, remain unaddressed.
Since 2014, conditions for many in public housing have worsened. Although it is the role of the City to ensure adequate living conditions for those in public housing, many still lack basic amenities. Earlier this year, a coalition of community activists, frustrated by the City’s inaction, worked together to provide air conditioners to several residents of public housing. However, many more still lack basic necessities.
On the campaign trail, Mike Pantelides’ plan for public housing has focused on increased police patrols. The Mayor has promised to hire more law enforcement officers and has said that he plans to keep public housing communities under surveillance through the use of advanced technology. By contrast, the Democratic Candidate, Gavin Buckley, has focused on engaging at-risk children to reduce the risk that they will get involved with criminal activity and has promised to improve conditions in public housing through the use of public-private partnerships.
That contrast between the two mayoral candidates reflects a nationwide debate about the school-to-prison pipeline, increased incarceration rates, and the legacy of segregation in America. On November 7th, Annapolis residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on that debate at the ballot box.
Comments? See our Facebook post.
Yasmine Jamison is a mother, activist and the founder of Anne Arundel County Indivisible.