Sammie Abbott, the famed and controversial mayor of Takoma Park, was defeated by seven votes in his bid for reelection last night, as were the mayors of Rockville and Annapolis. All lost to political newcomers.
In College Park, challenger V. Charles Donnelly led incumbent Alvin J. Kushner by two votes, with 63 absentee ballots still to be counted this morning, while Frederick Mayor Ronald N. Young successfully held off his Republican challenger, Donna J. Lane.
In Takoma Park, Stephen J. DelGiudice, who defeated Abbott, blamed Abbott's confrontational politics for many of the city's problems and said the mayor spent too much time worrying about global issues such as nuclear war and not enough on local concerns. In a fiery speech to supporters at his home last night, Abbott said this turn of direction "put Takoma Park as a role model in jeopardy" and urged citizens to begin organizing for the next campaign.
In Rockville, Steven Van Grack, a lawyer who has not held elective office before, defeated incumbent Viola D. Hovsepian, Rockville's first woman mayor. In Annapolis, Dennis Callahan -- who also had never been elected to office before -- returned the mayor's office to the Democrats by defeating incumbent Republican Richard L. Hillman.
In each of the campaigns, development conflicts, personality clashes and traffic jams were the major political issues. In Rockville, the busy commercial strip of Rockville Pike was a focus of controversy, as were the clogged streets of downtown Annapolis.
The sometimes abrasive personalites of the incumbents in Takoma Park and Annapolis became campaign issues. Acrimony between incumbent Kushner and challenger Donnelly in College Park gave the collegiate town a new cartoon character in a 56-page booklet published by Donnelly lampooning Kushner's governing style.
City council races in the five cities were matters of individuals more than of party. Because of the Hatch Act, which prohibits most federal employes from participating in party politics, only in Frederick and Annapolis were candidates slugging it out as Democrats and Republicans. Takoma Park
A law professor from George Washington University, vowing to end political confrontation and concentrate on local rather than global issues, defeated Takoma Park Mayor Abbott. DelGiudice, 34, a newcomer to elected politics, argued that Abbott had hurt the city by alienating would-be allies and ignoring important local problems such as traffic.
Abbott, 77, had made a name for himself and his city during his three terms as mayor by tackling such issues as the nation's immigration policy, nuclear arms and apartheid. However, he argued that he has also looked after local issues, pointing to revitalization of the city's historic district and to the network of committees and commissions he has encouraged to give citizens a say in local issues.
In an angry speech to supporters who gathered at his home after the vote was counted, Abbott declared that his successful campaign to turn Takoma Park into a nuclear free zone and the city's opposition to aid to the rebels in Nicaragua had put his town on the map.
"I pity the citizens of Takoma Park, unless we organize," he said. He noted he will be 79 years old when the next mayoral election is held and may not want to run again. But he raised the hand of council member Lynne Bradley, who has generally supported Abbott, as a possible contender.
DelGiudice was endorsed by council members Michael K. Haney, Carlton A. Iddings and Gail B. Dalmat, who have expressed exasperation with Abbott's combative attitude.
In separate, nonbinding referendum questions, residents of both the Prince George's and Montgomery County sections of Takoma Park voted to support the unification of the city within one county. A large majority of residents on both sides of the border voted to support unification in Montgomery rather than Prince George's.
Three of the seven council members -- Williams, Bradley and Haney -- were reelected without opposition. A fourth council member, Iddings, defeated Joseph Brint Dillingham, who has been active in housing and antinuclear issues in the city.
Also elected to the council were Edward Frank Sharp and Sharon H. Levy. Rockville
In Maryland's second largest city, Van Grack, 37, a lawyer, beat incumbent Mayor Hovsepian, 62, in a mayoral race that was run down the middle of the community's main street, Rockville Pike, a symbol of conflicts between commercial and residential development.
Van Grack led last night with 2,458 votes, or 37.3 percent of the vote, to Hovsepian's 2,244, 34.1 percent. Former councilman John G. Tyner II trailed with 1,881 votes.
"Well, I'm real excited," Van Grack said last night. "I honestly believe when I spoke to the people of the city of Rockville about going in a new direction, they were ready for it."
Rockville voters returned to office three City Council incumbents -- 42-year-old Stephen N. Abrams, 29-year-old Douglas M. Duncan and 41-year-old Peter R. Hartogensis. James F. Coyle, 42, was elected to his first term on the four-member council.
Van Grack, who ran a two-mile race against rush-hour traffic on the Pike last week, said the solution to Pike congestion lies in redesigning its myriad shopping centers so they are easier to enter, leave and walk through; better timing of traffic lights; sidewalks and footbridges over and around the thoroughfare, and shuttle bus service.
Hovsepian called for increased car and van pooling, more shuttle buses and shared public transportation. Annapolis
Hillman, the Republican mayor of Annapolis, was ousted last night by Democrat Callahan, a political newcomer. Callahan captured 54.2 percent of the vote and Hillman 45.8 percent.
Callahan, the 44-year-old owner of a chain of formal wear stores, was dismissed by Hillman during the campaign for his lack of experience.
Hillman, a 42-year-old lawyer who has been mayor since 1981, boasted he had brought the city out of debt and brought down property taxes during his term. But Callahan assailed Hillman for being too difficult to get along with, and said the city had "lost control" of its downtown area to hooligans. Callahan promised to do better at getting along with other elected officials and increase police foot patrols.
But while Republicans lost the mayor's office, they gained two more seats on the Board of Aldermen. Republican Ruth C. Gray, a legislative aide in the House of Delegates, beat incumbent Democrat Benjamin Winegrad in Ward 4, while Republican M. Theresa DeGraff defeated Democrat David O. Colburn for a vacant seat in Ward 7. Democrat Carl O. Snowden beat Republican Myron V. Wotring in the new Ward 5, giving Annapolis two black aldermen for the first time. College Park
College Park Mayor Kushner, 58, faced a challenger with a biting sense of humor. Donnelly, a 42-year-old lawyer, lampooned Kushner's governing style in a 56-page booklet that featured a cartoon caricature of Kushner.
Underpinning the race was a central issue facing university towns everywhere: how to preserve neighborhoods for families while accommodating the seasonal needs of college students.
Run against the backdrop of a growing housing shortage at the University of Maryland campus at College Park, the mayoral race centered on what city government can do to balance the needs of permanent residents with those of a changing student population.
Kushner challenged the state to end a two-decade moratorium on building much-needed campus housing and to "change the policy that causes College Park's on-campus housing to be the second most costly housing of its kind in the country." Noting that the city's authority is limited to health and safety matters and enforcement of housing codes, he called on Pringe George's County officials to amend zoning laws to reduce the number of single persons, such as students, that can live in single-family homes.
But Donnelly, saying city government could be more aggressive, called for more effective ordinances holding property owners to higher standards, and for a commitment of city resources to enforce the ordinances.
College Park City Council incumbent Oleh Podryhula was upset in District 7 by Joseph W. Cotter, but the other incumbent facing a challenge, George M. Parsons, won. Three other members of the council -- Michael J. Jacobs, Dervey A. Lomax and and Anna L. Owens -- ran unopposed.
Also elected were Joseph E. Page, William Salmond and Barry E. Wood. Wood defeated Sherrill Murray by one vote. Frederick
Apparently liking his encouragement of new development and historic preservation, Frederick voters reelected incumbent Young to a fourth term.
Like a down-scale Rockville, Frederick is facing problems of unprecedented growth and traffic congestion. As in Rockville, Frederick's charming old town center is fighting for preservation amid encroaching commercial and modern residential development.
Despite the quality-of-life issues facing the 32,000 residents of this city 37 miles northwest of Washington, less than 20 percent of the registered voters took part in the primary elections earlier this year.
Republican mayoral candidate Lane, an accountant, lashed out at Democrat Young for spending too much money on downtown redevelopment at the expense of fast-growing subdivisions. But with all 10 precincts reporting, Lane lost to Young by 624 votes.
Young, who has been mayor for 12 years, has focused his attention on the quality of life in Frederick, expanding the number of city parks to 40, developing community arts and recreation centers and restoring the city's many historical buildings in an enclave called Old Town.
Lane, 41, ran on a platform of Reaganomics and pressed for private-sector commercial and residential development. She decried the booming renovation of old housing, saying it displaces needy families.