For the first time in 16 years, voters in Chesapeake Beach will choose Tuesday between two candidates for mayor.
Voters will also choose six Town Council members from among 14 candidates in a race that has focused on issues of growth in the small town.
The contest for mayor pits Joseph Wayne Johnson, a longtime Prince George's County civic activist who moved to the town four years ago, against five-term incumbent Gerald W. Donovan, who has not faced an election challenge since 1988.
Donovan, 55, said he is running on his 28-year record of public service as Town Council member and mayor. He described himself as a fiscal conservative who has lowered taxes 21 times. He has also supported major public works projects such as installing a water and sewer system.
"I've spent the better part of my adult life improving this community," said Donovan, who owns several businesses in the town, including the new 72-room Chesapeake Beach Hotel and Spa and the Rod 'N' Reel restaurant.
Johnson, 61, said his opponent supports policies that benefit his own economic interests over the interests of the town. Johnson, a retired Naval Research Laboratory analyst, said he supports curbs on development and opposes the expansion of a boardwalk to the Rod 'N' Reel.
"He comes from the business, special-interest side," Johnson said of Donovan. "I come from the citizen activist side."
Donovan said Johnson was telling "tall tales" and rejected the suggestion of any improper behavior.
"There is nothing I've ever done that benefited me that didn't benefit every other business in town," he said.
The candidates also have traded barbs over the amount of time they will spend on the unpaid mayor's job. Johnson said he would work in the position full time and called Donovan a "part-time mayor."
Donovan said he is semi-retired and spends more time working for the town than he does on his businesses.
"I don't know how you get any more full time than I am," he said. "I'm the mayor of Chesapeake Beach 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Johnson, who opposes efforts to bring slot machines to Maryland, has tried to make gambling an issue in the campaign. He said Donovan, who operates pull-tab bingo machines that resemble slots, wants to bring slot machines to his hotel.
Donovan said there was no truth to that claim.
"We have no plans on expanding any kind of gambling," he said. "I've never asked anybody for any slot-machine or casino gambling legislation."
Both candidates also expressed their commitment to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.