On most afternoons, residents of Annapolis's westernmost election districts sit stuck in a maddening snarl of cars and trucks along Forrest Drive or at the intersection of Chinquapin Round Road and West Street.
Traffic is a key issue for voters in the city's third and fourth wards. In Ward 3, Democratic incumbent Classie Gillis Hoyle is running unopposed after defeating Scott Bowling in the primary. In Ward 4, home improvement contractor Wayne Taylor (D) faces recent Republican convert Tyrone Furman. The seat is being vacated by George O. Kelley Sr. (R) in his bid for mayor.
In addition to traffic, tax relief and crime are issues that resonate throughout Ward 4.
The ward has the distinction of having perhaps the fewest businesses of any of the city's eight voting districts. Residential areas range from the pricey outcropping of mega-homes in Kingsport to the lower- and middle-income neighborhoods of Woodside Gardens, Annapolis Walk and Hilltop Lane. The ward is predominantly black but has a growing Hispanic population. It traditionally votes heavily Democratic.
Taylor, 47, has run an organized, active door-to-door campaign. Traffic is high on his list of concerns for the ward. He backs a current measure making its way through the City Council that would require there be adequate public facilities and services -- including police officers, firefighters and roads -- before allowing new development.
His top priority, however, is reducing crime. Taylor says the solution to crime is more community involvement, not more police officers. He wants to encourage communities to participate in Neighborhood Watch.
"My opposition says there needs to be more beat patrols," Taylor said. "I want to put the onus on communities. We have to say, 'This is my house, this is my neighborhood and I'm going to do everything I can to protect it, short of vigilantism.' "
He also hopes to secure funding to improve lighting in problem areas and to create closer relationships between police and the community, including bringing officers to work with children in after-school programs.
On tax relief, Taylor says he favors lowering the cap on the homestead tax credit from the current 10 percent but wants the issue studied before determining how low it should go. The homestead credit limits the amount by which taxable assessments on primary residences can increase each year.
Before starting his own business, Taylor honed his business skills as a junior associate with John Hancock Financial Services and as a store director for Toys R Us.
Taylor, who moved here from Prince George's County seven years ago, supports Mayor Ellen O. Moyer (D) in her reelection campaign. "Annapolis is better than it was four years ago," he said, praising Moyer's fiscal management and environmental initiatives.
"This is an environmental town, and she has set the standard to raise awareness on environmental issues," Taylor said.
If elected, he said he would make it a point to be easily accessible to residents of the ward -- something he feels Kelley has not been.
"The thing I've heard over and over, what's been said to me as I've knocked on doors, is he's like an absentee landlord," Taylor said.
As of Tuesday, Furman did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment for this article.
A counselor with the county's Young Father's Support Network, Furman helps teenage fathers find jobs and take care of their families. Kelley urged Furman to change parties and run for his council seat.
"I think he's the best candidate for the position," Kelley said. "He's a strong advocate for families and a role model for children."