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Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh resigns

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh resigns



Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has resigned, more than a month after taking a leave of absence for health reasons and amid scrutiny over her children’s books.

The announcement was made Thursday afternoon at the offices of the mayor’s attorney, Steve Silverman.

Silverman read a statement from Pugh as follows:

Dear citizens of Baltimore,

I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve as the 50th mayor. It has been an honor and a privilege.

Today, I am submitting my written resignation to the Baltimore City Council. I am sorry for the harm that I have caused to the image of the city of Baltimore and the credibility of the Office of the Mayor.

Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward. I want to thank all of our department heads and staff who work hard every day to improve the quality of life for all who live, work and visit our city.

I also want to thank Jack Young, the president of the City Council, for his steadfast leadership in my absence.

I wish you well in your new role as mayor of Baltimore City


Catherine E. Pugh


Her resignation took effect immediately.

Pugh’s resignation automatically makes Jack Young mayor. No formal swearing-in is required, though one will likely be scheduled later. It also opens up the City Council president’s slot. Currently, Young and Sharon Middleton, acting council president, are out of town at a conference.

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis spoke at City

Hall, saying, “I understand that his staff is in touch with the governor, with elected officials and others to arrange a formal swearing-in ceremony for next week. But, of course, he is the mayor at this moment.”

“In the 18 months that I have had to work closely with Catherine Pugh, I saw a woman, a politician, an elected official who is absolutely dedicated to the city to its people, to lifting up the vulnerable, and I’m very sad,” Davis added.

Young released a statement, saying: “I was informed today at 3:35 p.m. by City Solicitor Andre Davis of Catherine Pugh’s resignation as mayor of Baltimore.

“The resignation is effective immediately. I believe this action is in the best interest of the city of Baltimore.

“In accordance with the city’s Charter, I will serve as Baltimore’s 51st Mayor.

“For the past month, I have traveled the city and worked hard to keep government’s focus on providing essential services to our citizens. I have spent time in classrooms working with some of the brightest minds our public school system has to offer. I have unveiled a number of development projects that stand as symbols to the commitment that many people have to our city. I have convened several meetings of the mayor’s cabinet, where I have stressed the importance of teamwork in delivering for the citizens that we’re privileged to serve.

“I pledge that my focus will not change. I have listened to the concerns of our citizens and I will continue to work diligently to address those concerns.

“Although I understand that this ordeal has caused real pain for many Baltimoreans, I promise that we will emerge from it more committed than ever to building a stronger Baltimore. Charm City is wonderful and is full of resilient people who are working hard every day to move our city forward. You all deserve recognition, and I will spend my time as mayor working alongside you.

“I’d like to also give special recognition and thanks to the thousands of public servants who’ve come to work each day under challenging and uncertain circumstances and put forth their best collective effort.

“To the people of Baltimore, thank you for your faith in me and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and continuing to work on your behalf.”

What led to the mayor’s resignation

The mayor’s resignation comes a week after agents from the FBI and IRS executed search warrants at her homes, offices at City Hall and other locations to which she has ties.

Pugh has been on an indefinite leave of absence for more than a month as she recovers from pneumonia.

Pugh’s resignation comes amid the controversy over her no-bid book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System. The state prosecutor is investigating the book deals and possible ethics violations, Pugh’s attorneys told the 11 News I-Team.

Pugh resigned from UMMS as a board member, along with returning a $100,000 payment to the medical system, part of what she received for selling children’s books to the system.

Pugh — a woman of style, grace and substance — has fallen hard from her dream job of being mayor. Pugh, who is single, describes herself as married to the city.

Hallmarks as mayor include her unique violence-reduction initiative, which got all city agencies involved in addressing the root causes of crime. She persevered in all the fits and starts of hiring a new police commissioner, finally getting Michael Harrison, her first choice, to come to Baltimore. She was proficient in leveraging city assets to promote growth and improve city neighborhoods.

Pugh earned an MBA at Morgan State University. Before entering politics, she started a public relations firm in the late 1980s. She worked for The Baltimore Sun, became the director of Strayer Business College in Baltimore, co-owned WGTW-TV in the Delaware Valley and served as president and CEO of Pugh and Co.

In 1999, Pugh won a seat on the City Council. She witnessed the power of the mayor’s office early on. She asked then Mayor Martin O’Malley to back two projects, one of which led to the creation of the Baltimore Running Festival.

In 2005, then-Gov. Bob Ehrlich appointed Pugh to an open delegate’s seat. She won a seat in the state Senate in 2007. Pugh earned a solid reputation of a consensus builder, often successfully reaching across party lines for support.

In 2015 Pugh ran for mayor in a contentious race. She beat former Mayor Sheila Dixon by only 2,400 votes. Pugh was instrumental in getting the U.S. Justice Department consent decree signed over the objections of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Maryland reacts to mayor’s resignation

The entire City Council, Gov. Larry Hogan, the state comptroller, the Baltimore City delegation in Annapolis, the Greater Baltimore Committee and others had called on Pugh to resign.

U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes released the following joint statement: “As Baltimore’s federal delegation, we are focused on supporting Baltimore City and its federal priorities. We recently met with Jack Young at the U.S. Capitol and directly expressed our desire to work as a coordinated ‘Team Maryland’ to ensure the people of our great city are best served and respected by their elected leaders. We stand with Mayor Young today and will look to the future hand-in-hand. Baltimore City has many challenges remaining, but together we will strengthen our community, bring safety and security to our neighborhoods, and expand education and economic opportunities for those most in need.”

Hogan released a statement, saying: “This was the right decision, as it was clear the mayor could no longer lead effectively. The federal and state investigations must and will continue to uncover the facts. Baltimore City can now begin to move forward. The state pledges its full support to incoming Mayor Jack Young and to city leaders during this time of transition.”

Ex-Officio City Council President Sharon Green Middleton released a statement, saying: “Mayor Catherine Pugh made a decision I believe to be in the best interests of the citizens of Baltimore. She has served the city and we are better because of that service.

“Whether it is her fight for education dollars, housing, and economic development in long-neglected neighborhoods and her focus on violence reduction in our communities, now the work must continue.

“I am humbled by the positive interactions I have had as I have traveled around the city. Although this is a difficult time, Baltimore will move forward.

“I, along with Mayor Bernard ‘Jack’ Young and my colleagues on the City Council, are committed to providing stability and re-establishing trust in government.

“As we begin this journey, we must remember we are One Baltimore and our future depends on each of us doing our part.

“I wish Mayor Pugh well.”

Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott released a statement, saying: “Today is a day of relief and accountability for Baltimore. Now the city can move forward with tackling the vast challenges facing Baltimore including improving our schools and reducing crime. I look forward to working with all of our local, state and federal leadership to get Baltimore back on track.”

Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett released a statement, saying: “A few moments ago, I received news of the resignation from office of Mayor Catherine Pugh. As I’ve said previously, while this has been a very difficult time for our city, I have full confidence that we can and will forward as a city.

“My focus and priorities have not wavered — providing excellent constituent services to residents of the 8th District, and working with my colleagues on the Council to deliberate legislation critical to the well-being of Baltimore City and its residents. I also wish to express my full support for Mayor Bernard ‘Jack’ Young to lead our city during this time.”

Baltimore City Councilman Ryan Dorsey released a statement, saying: “Mayor Pugh’s decision to resign from office today was the right thing for Baltimore. It is a moment of both sadness and relief of our city. There is as much work as ever to be done in our city, if not more. My focus, and that of my council colleagues, is on seamlessly continuing that work with Mayor Young.”

Baltimore City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer released a statement, saying: “Every challenge is an opportunity for growth. As Mayor Pugh formally resigns, it is an opportunity for our city to put this distraction behind us and move forward. My focus has been and will continue to be the critical work of fighting for the needs of the 5th District and all of the citizens of Baltimore City.”

Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen released a statement, saying: “Catherine Pugh resigned as mayor of Baltimore. The past month has been painful for all Baltimoreans. People deserve to have faith in their local government. Our city deserves leadership. I’m honored to be on a City Council filled with bright, energized, and progressive people, who work extremely hard every day for the people of Baltimore. We’re going to continue to do the work. Tonight, we’re holding a hearing on youth jobs. I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Young on behalf of the residents of the 1st District. Baltimore will move forward.”

“We’re used to tough times, but enough is enough. It’s time now for us to be able to celebrate and move forward with some gains,” Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said.

“The fact that it has come now, there’s a sigh of relief. Again, they’re not waiting for the other shoe to drop, per se, but that now we can move forward and pick ourselves up and do the work of the city,” Baltimore City Councilman John Bullock said.

Greater Baltimore Committee President and CEO Don Fry released a statement, saying: “Catherine Pugh’s decision to resign as mayor of Baltimore today is in the best interest of the city. Her resignation provides Baltimore the opportunity to move forward without the distraction of the ongoing investigations and speculation as to leadership in City Hall. The Greater Baltimore Committee remains committed to supporting Bernard C. ‘Jack’ Young in his new role as mayor and to assist the city to grow, heal and leverage the many positive assets it has going for it.”

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Bilal Ali

May 2nd, 2019

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