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Pugh dances into Baltimore mayoral race

State Sen. Catherine Pugh literally danced her way into the city’s mayoral race Monday evening.

As disco music blared and nearly 150 supporters jammed inside a community center on West North Avenue near Coppin State University, Pugh strutted into the room amid cheers and hugs and took the podium to declare her intention to run for the city’s top job. She said the crime and grime she sees everywhere had moved her to run.

Pugh, a marathon runner, wore a bright yellow suit and told the crowd she first moved to Baltimore from a suburb of Philadelphia to attend Morgan State University — and then adopted the city as her new hometown.

“I was a cheerleader,” she said, of her college days at the northeast Baltimore campus. “And I’m going to be the greatest cheerleader this city has ever had.”

Pugh is a Democrat and former member of the City Council who entered the state senate in 2007. She is a member of the powerful Finance Committee and chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland. She would not have to give up her senate seat to run.

At the announcement, Pugh decried the city’s crime rate, gang violence, unemployment, perks to rich developers and the high housing vacancy rate in communities and pledged to focus on those issues if she is elected in the primary Sept. 13.

“It’s time to stop, Baltimore,” she said, of the city’s high property taxes, bottle tax and high water and sewer rates. “With me we can do better. Young people must be our top priority.”

Current Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has raised funds to run, but has yet to file. The field is crowded, though, with former city planning director Otis Rolley III, Baltimore Clerk of the Courts Frank M. Conaway Sr., Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors Executive Vice President Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III already declared candidates. Vicki Ann Harding is the lone Republican candidate who has filed.

Pugh said she plans to focus on cutting the city’s property tax rate in half in her four-year term and attracting 80,000 new residents to Baltimore by 2020. She also said any money left over from her campaign would go into a new endowment to help pay for the $12 million in lead paint poisoning court orders against the city for children who were harmed in city-owned units.

“That is an issue that has weighed very heavy on my heart,” she said. “The city spent $4 million defending itself and then lost. We owe these families and we must pay.”

Pugh said that as mayor, she would focus more on community building and less on granting taxpayer subsidies to wealthy developers. That is a signature of the Rawlings-Blake administration, she said.

“I am so passionate about Baltimore. I love this city,” she said. “I actually go to bed at night thinking about fixing up this city.”

One comment

  1. I would like to know your views on Same Sex marriages, and on Gay rights, and the hiring and Firing of Police Officers,