Annapolis Elects Local Restaurateur as Mayor, Replacing Republican Mike Pantelides

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Annapolis Mayor-elect Gavin Buckley. Photo via Gavin Buckley for Mayor/Facebook.

A small business owner and first-time politician unseated Republican incumbent Mike Pantelides last night as mayor of Annapolis.

Pantelides, 34, conceded the election to Gavin Buckley, 54, shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday night, The Capital reports. Preliminary voting numbers show Buckley won big with 62 percent of the vote.

“To all of you who embraced my campaign and voted for me on Tuesday – thank you!” Buckley wrote in a message to supporters on his campaign website. “I am extremely grateful for your support and I am so proud that our vision for a strong, inclusive and vibrant Annapolis is shared by so many.”

He thanked Pantelides “for his work on behalf of our City,” adding, “To his supporters and those who did not vote for me: I want you to know that I’m committed to working with you and on your behalf, because this City belongs to all of us.”

Four years earlier, Pantelides squeezed out a victory with a 59-vote margin over Democrat Joshua Cohen. He presided over the city as it introduced police body cameras, and as it weathered an uptick in homicides last year and early this year.

“The work we’ve done the last four years, we should be proud of,” he told supporters at what turned out to be his concession party, The Capital reports.

Buckley, an Australian immigrant, has been an active community member in Annapolis for 25 years. He’s credited with helping to revitalize West Street, a formerly run-down section of town, into an arts and entertainment hot spot for the city. He’s a co-owner of four restaurants — Tsunami, Lemongrass, Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge and Sailor Oyster Bar — all of which are located on West Street.

He has big ambitions for Annapolis. One of his spitball ideas – a permanent Ferris wheel downtown – caused a stir during campaign season, even prompting attack ads from Pantelides. (Buckley clarified in October that he wasn’t serious: “THERE WILL BE NO Ferris Wheel built at City Dock under my administration,” he said in a statement.)

Pantelides’ loss was among a tide of wins for Democrats around the region. In Virginia, voters elected Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam over Republican lobbyist Bob Gillespie to be the next governor. (Gov. Larry Hogan stumped for Gillespie, a hard-line conservative, this week.) In New Jersey, residents shifted control of the governor’s seat to Democratic hands after eight years of having Republican Chris Christie at the helm.

Voters in Frederick, another large Maryland city, also unseated their Republican mayor, Randy McClement, opting for Democrat Michael O’Connor instead.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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