- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Residents of Friendship Heights, Md., for the first time in 26 years, did not have the option of voting for Mayor Alfred Muller in yesterdays village elections.
But even though he declined to seek another term owing to legal troubles, the mayor was the most visible politician shaking hands and serving up smiles outside the Village Center yesterday.
"Theres a team thats running that is particularly good. I support them. I have worked with them. I know all the candidates," Dr. Muller said. "Ive [greeted voters on Election Day] for a long time and will continue to do it."
A D.C. Superior Court judge sentenced Dr. Muller to three years probation Friday for fondling a 14-year-old boy in a bathroom at the Washington National Cathedral. The mayor of this upper-class village on the D.C. line pleaded guilty in March to a reduced charge of misdemeanor sexual abuse.
As part of his plea, he must register as a sex offender.
Yesterday, he said, "Ive been here for six hours and literally no one has come up to ask me questions about … the controversies."
Dr. Muller, after his sentencing, issued a letter on village letterhead insisting the police got an inaccurate account from the boy after the Jan. 28 encounter.
"In fact, the young man approached me and, in a sexually explicit manner, exposed himself to me," Dr. Muller wrote. "In the context of rebuffing his sexual advance, I touched him once."
However, during his sentencing, he told Judge Shellie Bowers: "It was not an accident. I fully admit that."
Dr. Muller explained in the letter why he pleaded guilty. He stated he was nearing the end of his career as a physician and "I cannot afford the tremendous financial and emotional expense that litigating this matter would entail."
He went on to note that he is not a pedophile and "I am particularly sorry to have been drawn into such an incident at my beloved cathedral, where I have served as a volunteer for more than 27 years."
The mayor also has been criticized for his smoking ban, one of the strictest in the nation, that prohibited lighting up on sidewalks and parks. The Village Council repealed the ban earlier this year after two judges ruled against it.
His opponents said they have had enough.
"We want a change in the kind of leadership we have, which has been authoritarian," said Cleonice Tavani, council candidate and head of the 230-member Friendship Heights Village Civic Association.
"Nobody serves for 26 years. Thats a cult already," said candidate Mel Krupin, a restaurateur.
Results of the election were not available yesterday evening.
Dr. Muller supported a slate made up mostly of council incumbents called the Committee to Protect Our Community.
All seven council seats were up for election yesterday. Dr. Muller, though he served as mayor, was one of the seven council members.
The five incumbents in the running were Frank Valeo, James Salter, Elizabeth Harris, Michael Pollard and Melanie Rose White. Leonard Mudd and Maurice Trebach also joined the slate.
"We need to protect the services and programs that the council has established in the village over the last 26 years," said Miss White, an eight-year incumbent.
She held a flier touting some of those accomplishments: services and amenities that exceed those of neighboring towns, lower taxes and "a $1.5 million debt replaced with a $1.5 million reserve."
Miss White dismissed any notion that the smoking ban could affect the outcome of the election.
"I think the smoking ban is pretty much a non-issue. Its over with," she said. "It was a public health measure and I think a lot of people appreciated that."
A slate called Citizens for Change opposed them. Led by Mrs. Tavani, the group also included Mr. Krupin and residents J.P. Bouquet and James Griffin.
They campaigned on issues of open government and dropping the position of mayor, making all seven council members equals.
Three independent candidates — Nancy White, Peter Jaffe and former council member Toby Alterman — also ran.
Voter Ruth Goodspeed, 81, said the smoking ban and the mayors troubles were "not that important."
"I like the way things have been done in the past," she said.
One voter, who would not give her name, said the smoking ban affected her vote.
"Its ridiculous. It made us a laughingstock," she said. "We dont need that kind of PR."


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