By Chris Katz, Desmond Boyle and Alicia Reynolds
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writers
Democratic state Sen. Catherine Pugh will replace Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as the mayor of Baltimore City after winning a massive majority of the vote Tuesday night.
Pugh was elected with 57.1 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Alan Walden and Green Party nominee Joshua Harris, who each received 10 percent of the tally.
According to the Maryland Board of Election’s website, 22.8 percent went to write-in candidates, which party officials said mostly went to former Baltimore City mayor Sheila Dixon.
Pugh, who received 119,204 votes, said in front of a crowd of about 300 people at the Radisson Hotel in the Inner Harbor that the city needs to work together to be more inclusive and diverse.
“I will work day and night to move our city forwards, not backwards,” Pugh said. “We have a responsibility to make this city the greatest in America.”
Anthony McCarthy, the spokesman for the newly elected mayor, said Pugh’s main goals will be to make the police department more transparent, decrease the crime rate and improve education.
“The communities need to respect the police and the police need to respect the communities,” Pugh said. “We are one city.”
Brenda White, one of many residents of the city who was at the venue supporting Pugh, said she knows her experience as a state senator and caucus member will bring Baltimore much closer to being a unified city.
“She worked in the city, she lives in the city, and she’s a good citizen.” White said. “She was great as a senator, but I’m glad to see her coming home.”
Pugh said that the responsibility is not only in her hands, but is equally in the hands of the citizens of the city.
“My job is to empower you to do your job,” Pugh said. “If I see trash in the street, you see trash in the street. If you live in this city, then you have a stake in this city.”
Pugh also said that there are over 76,000 people unemployed and 3,000 people who sleep on the streets.
“The unemployed and homeless have their own problems, but what people don’t understand is that their problems are also our problems,” Pugh said.
Pugh said that there are many neighborhoods that need to be focused on, and the city needs communities that people can walk around in without feeling unsafe.
Many of Sheila Dixon’s supporters felt that this is where Pugh will fail the city of Baltimore.
“I was homeless and now I got a place working behind Sheila,” said Dixon supporter Tina Blum. “Sheila is a very nice person and she won’t let people go homeless.”
Dixon spoke to the crowd of roughly 150 supporters and thanked her volunteers for their help in her unprecedented write-in campaign. Dixon announced that she would run as a write-in candidate just two weeks before the election.
“I want to thank all of you for not just believing in me, but believe in the kind of difference we can make in this community.” Dixon said. “This campaign was organic, it was grassroots and it was about the people and that we can take care of our most vulnerable people in this city.”
Dixon consistently focused on her record of reducing crime in Baltimore when she served as mayor from 2007 to 2010. Rawlings-Blake replaced Dixon, who who resigned after being convicted of misdemeanor embezzlement charges.
“I knew this was unorthodox and never been done, but she’s dedicated to the city so I’m dedicated to her,” Pugh volunteer Hassan Giordano said. “You’re going to have a divided city as the have’s will support Pugh and the have not’s will support Dixon and this movement.”
Harris’s 20,936 votes put the Green Party nominee at 10 percent, just 24 votes short of Republican Walden.
“What we’ve shown here today is the only thing that beats big corporation power, is people power,” Harris said during his election night party at Sweet 27 Café on West 27 Street. “We’ve created a push for progressive policy change for a Baltimore that represents people no matter their zip code.” See sidebar here.
Walden, 80, conceded in the race Tuesday night. He congratulated Pugh on winning the election and hopes things will change in Baltimore.
“I would like to thank all those that voted for me and supported me and I would like to thank even the ones that did not,” Walden said. “I did not lose anything; I just did not win.”
Walden said this was his last race for public office. He said he hopes Pugh will address the issues that Baltimore still faces today.
“The school system still needs to be improved,” he said. “Schools should not be ran by the state. Police and citizen relations need to be improved. And there needs to be more emphasis on vocational schooling.”
Even after not winning the election, Walden still chose to remain humble and maintain his sense of humor and wit.
“Bernie Sanders and I have one thing in common: it was not the year for old white guys,” Walden said.
Simone Ebongo Bayehe contributed to this report.