Opinions

Sheila Dixon and the Baltimore Mayoral Race

 

Today, April 26, Maryland will hold its primary elections. Many people will be focused on the big races like the ones for President and Senate. However, if you live in Baltimore City, then you will be able to vote for the next mayor. The new mayor of Baltimore will unofficially be decided on April 26, because it is a long shot that a Republican will win. The last Republican to be mayor was Theodore McKeldin who held the office from 1963-1967. Democrats outnumber Republicans 10-1 in Baltimore City, so whoever wins the democratic primary is most likely going to be mayor.

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Mayoral Candidate Catherine Pugh speaks with Jed Dietz, Founding Director, Maryland Film Festival and Maryland film legend John Waters. Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/AJHGJF

However, the primary election for mayor is just as intriguing as the presidential one. There are 13 people who are still in the race for the Democrats. Much like the Republican primary, there are some candidates polling at less than one percent. Currently, former Mayor Sheila Dixon and State Senator Catherine Pugh are practically tied with 26%. David Warnock, who as a businessman has spent almost $650,000 on TV ads, and has 10% right now. City Councilman Nick Mosby is polling at 6%, lawyer Elizabeth Embry has 5%, and Councilman Carl Stokes has 3%. Everyone else in the field is polling at less than 1%.

A lot can happen in an election, but the main question is whether the people of Baltimore can trust former Mayor Sheila Dixon again. Back in 2010, Dixon resigned after she was found guilty of one misdemeanor embezzlement charge because she took gift cards that were supposed to be used to help the homeless and bought stuff for herself. She received four years’ probation and had to serve 500 hours of community service at Our Daily Bread. She resigned as mayor, and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was elected as mayor and won reelection in 2011.

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Current Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Rawlings-Blake has chosen not to run for reelection now, claiming that she had to put the city’s future before her own. She has not been viewed positively ever since the Baltimore Riots where there were reports that she told police to give the rioters space to do their thing. She also said in a press conference during the riots that “we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.” Crime has also risen in Baltimore significantly since the riots, and people have blamed her for not doing enough about it.

A mayor having been convicted of a crime and still winning reelection is not unheard of. The most famous instance was that of Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington D.C. Barry was mayor from 1979 to 1991 and from 1995-1999. In January of 1990, Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine with a prostitute and was arrested. Barry’s poll numbers actually went up after he was reelected in 1995.

Dixon didn’t have as large of a scandal compared to Barry’s, and she may be forgiven by the electorate. The race is essentially down to three people: Dixon, Pugh and Warnock. There have been very few polls conducted about this race, so any of those three could win. Warnock could get support because he is a businessman and not a politician. His ads about fixing Baltimore’s streets may help him as well. Pugh has the qualifications to be mayor and has been a senator in the state legislature for a while. However, her possible advantage of being an African-American woman and appealing to that voter base is taken away by Dixon, who is also from that demographic.

Whoever wins this election on Tuesday will have an easy path to becoming mayor. In 2011, only 15% of the votes cast were for the Republican candidate, and in 2007 only 12%. This race is just another one of the many important political races happening this year. Whoever does get elected has a lot of work to do to fix the City of Baltimore and make it a top American city again.

 

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