The City of Annapolis is seeking candidates to serve on the Anne Arundel County Police Accountability Board after mayoral nominee Gavin Buckley withdrew his name from consideration.
At a meeting Monday night, city council was to appoint attorney Luke Griffin to represent Annapolis on the nine-member council that will handle law enforcement complaints. Acting Mayor Sheila Finlayson learned Monday afternoon that Griffin had withdrawn her name, forcing her to scuttle her nomination at the last minute, much to the dismay of council members.
Ward 5 Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier raised his hands when he heard the news of Finlayson, the Ward 4 Alderman who is replacing Buckley on his vacation.
“Do we have alternatives?” asked Alderman Rob Savidge of Ward 6.
The answer to that question, according to Buckley’s chief of staff, Cate Pettit, was “Not yet.”
The Anne Arundel County Police Accountability Board is a new state-mandated citizens’ council that can offer policy advice and provide a forum for public complaints about law enforcement. The county received eight seats on the board and the city one. County Executive Steuart Pittman set a July 1 deadline for nominating members, and although the county met the deadline, the city did not.
Council members began considering Griffin for the job last month after he was nominated by Buckley. On June 27, Griffin shared moving testimony about his past experiences with addiction and alleged police misconduct. Griffin is a recent graduate of the University of Baltimore Law School, and Buckley said his combination of compelling personal story and professional experience qualifies him to serve on the accountability board. The board, however, postponed the vote on Griffin’s nomination because too few members had met with the young lawyer.
On Monday afternoon, city workers informed Finlayson that Griffin had retired.
“I understand that this gentleman had issues, which we will not address,” Ward 6 Alderman DaJuan Gay explained, before offering his suggestions for the position to be filled.
“What is most important is that we support a candidate that we can all support,” added Gay.
Griffin could not be reached for comment.
Speaking after a county council meeting in June, Pittman said new council members would begin training this month, but the city could still appoint a representative.
“They can start without it [last person]”, Pittman said. “We’re good whether they get their name or not.
While the county received 89 council nominees, the city only received six, Pettit said. One of those six townspeople also applied for the county and ended up being a county nominee. A few other candidates were deemed unsuitable, she said.
He remains a “good candidate,” but Pettit urged board members to come up with additional names.
“We welcome applications,” Pettit said.
The mayor will have a candidate ready before the next meeting of the public safety committee, she assured the council. The next public safety meeting is scheduled for September 5.
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“We won’t be long without a city representative,” Finlayson said.
By unanimous vote, council approved changes to the municipal code that exempt the city from directly funding the Annapolis Art Commission in public places. Ward 1 Alderman Elly Tierney initiated the change because under new state legislation that took effect July 1, the commission will now receive 3% of all hotel taxes paid in Annapolis.
Before voting on the measure, several council members again expressed dismay that Genevieve Torri, chair of the commission, partnered with State Senator Sarah Elfreth to pass the legislation. The option to receive hotel tax funding has been available to municipal arts councils in Maryland for more than a decade, but the council was unaware of Torri’s plans and caught off guard by the misappropriation of the taxpayers’ money. In fiscal year 2022, the board allocated $67,500 to the commission.
Since the Arts Commission should now receive $250,000 in hotel taxes to fund murals, concerts, art exhibits and other free public events, Tierney wanted to remove the language from the code of the city that required the council to give the commission an annual appropriation.
Before voting, Schandelmeier asked if the board would still have the option of giving the commission additional funding if members wanted it in the future. He was assured that it was true.
“I think the flexibility is good,” Schandelmeier said.
Capital reporter Dana Munro contributed to this story.