Catherine Pugh

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Catherine Pugh
Catherine Pugh in 2017
50th Mayor of Baltimore
In office
December 6, 2016 – May 2, 2019
Leave of absence: April 2, 2019 – May 2, 2019
Preceded byStephanie Rawlings-Blake
Succeeded byJack Young
Majority Leader of the Maryland Senate
In office
January 14, 2015 – December 6, 2016
Preceded byJames Robey
Succeeded byDouglas J. J. Peters
Member of the Maryland Senate
from the 40th district
In office
January 10, 2007 – December 6, 2016
Preceded byRalph M. Hughes
Succeeded byBarbara A. Robinson
Member of the Maryland House of Delegates
from the 40th district
In office
June 16, 2005 – January 10, 2007
Preceded byTony Fulton
Succeeded byShawn Z. Tarrant
Member of the Baltimore City Council
from the 4th district
In office
January 2000 – December 7, 2004
Preceded bySheila Dixon
Succeeded byKenneth Harris
Personal details
Catherine Elizabeth Crump

(1950-03-10) March 10, 1950 (age 69)
Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationMorgan State University (BS, MBA)
WebsiteCampaign website

Catherine Elizabeth Pugh (born March 10, 1950)[1][2] is an American Democratic politician who served as the 50th mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. Pugh has been involved in Maryland politics since 1999 when she served on the Baltimore City Council. She has also held office in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate, serving as the Majority Leader from 2015 to 2016. She first ran for Baltimore City mayor in 2011 and lost the primary to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Pugh ran again in 2016 and won the primary against former Mayor Sheila Dixon. Pugh then won the mayoral election on November 8, 2016, with 57% of the popular vote, and took office on December 6, 2016.[3] She was Baltimore's third consecutive female mayor.

In April 2019, Pugh announced she was taking an indefinite leave of absence to recover from pneumonia. The announcement coincided with a scandal over a "self-dealing" book-sales arrangement, whereby organizations allegedly purchased large quantities of Pugh's books in exchange for contracts with the city.[4]

On May 2, 2019, Pugh resigned as Mayor of Baltimore amid the book scandal.[5]

Early life[edit]

Pugh was born as Catherine Crump on March 10, 1950 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Pugh was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her seven siblings.[6][1] In 1967, she graduated from Overbrook High School in Philadelphia.[7]


Pugh earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration from Morgan State University in Baltimore City, Maryland. [8] She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[1]

Early career[edit]

In 1988, Pugh founded a public relations firm, Pugh and Company.[9] From the mid 1980s to the early 1990s, she was an independent editor for The Baltimore Sun and dean and director of Strayer Business College in Baltimore.[10] In 1994, she returned to Philadelphia and became vice president of Brunson Communications and co-owner of a local Delaware Valley TV station, WGTW-TV,[11] where she was the host of "Another View", a weekly public affairs program[6] that focused on policy issues within the black community and featured interviews with community leaders and public officials.

Political career[edit]

Pugh entered Baltimore City politics in 1999. She is president and CEO of Pugh and Company,[10] and in December 2016 became the 50th mayor of Baltimore City, Maryland.[6]

Baltimore City Council[edit]

In 1999 Pugh was elected to the Baltimore City Council, where she served until 2004. She ran for president of the council in 2003, but lost to Sheila Dixon in the primary.

Maryland General Assembly[edit]

Pugh with Governor Hogan at the 2016 State of the State Reception

In 2005, Governor Bob Ehrlich appointed Pugh to an open seat in the Maryland House of Delegates, where she served from June 21, 2005, to January 10, 2007. She then won a seat in the State Senate and served there from January 10, 2007 to December 6, 2016. She sat on the Finance Committee and served as the State Senate Majority Leader. As Majority Leader, Pugh led the state on cyber security and telemedicine expansion legislation. Pugh is also responsible for diversifying the state's $40 billion pension portfolio, having led the passage of Senate Bill 606, which increased black and other minority managed dollars from $300 million to $4.2 billion.[12] Pugh is currently president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and she's the past chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and the Women's Caucus of Legislators in Maryland.[citation needed]

2016 Baltimore mayoral campaign[edit]

In 2015, Pugh entered the race for mayor of Baltimore and launched her campaign headquarters in the city.[13] She was an underdog to former mayor Sheila Dixon until the early 2016. The endorsement of Congressman Elijah Cummings in April 2016 boosted her campaigning efforts.[14] Pugh won the Democratic primary with 37% of the vote to Dixon's 34%.[15] She won the November 8 general election with 57% of the vote, and took office on December 6, 2016.[3]

Mayor of Baltimore[edit]

Pugh succeeded Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as Baltimore's 50th mayor. As mayor, she inherited several issues from the Rawlings-Blake administration. Pugh prioritized the United States Department of Justice investigation into the Baltimore Police Department following the death of Freddie Gray, before the inauguration of Donald Trump.[16][17] In April 2017, Judge James K. Bredar approved the consent decree signed by Pugh and former acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, rejecting an objection by new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.[18]

Additional issues the Pugh administration faced included Baltimore's crime levels, vacant housing and revitalization development, and the cancellation of the Baltimore Red Line and launch of Governor Larry Hogan's BaltimoreLink bus system overhaul. Despite supporting it during her campaign, Pugh vetoed a bill to increase Baltimore's minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years, citing concerns about businesses moving out of the city and adverse effects on nonprofits and small businesses. Ricarra Jones, chairwoman of the Fight for $15 Baltimore Coalition, responded to the veto, "As a state senator, Mayor Pugh was a strong supporter of a livable minimum wage and explicitly promised to sign the Baltimore wage bill as mayor. Today, she has made clear that promises are made to be broken."[19]

In July 2017, Pugh along with other city leaders announced a mandatory one-year sentence for illegal possession of a gun in many parts of Baltimore. The move was seen as an attempt to address the city's soaring violence rate.[20] The Baltimore city council voted to water down the legislation.[21]

University of Maryland Medical Center in Downtown Baltimore

In March 2019, Pugh was revealed to have accepted $500,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System while serving as a trustee to purchase her Healthy Holly books to donate to Baltimore schoolchildren. This no-bid payment was controversial because the years of payments coincided with her tenure as head of a health committee in the Maryland State Senate and as mayor of Baltimore. She did not disclose the payments or recuse herself from votes and decisions involving the medical system. Maryland legislative leaders pledged to reform the medical center's practice of giving large contracts to trustees due the conflict it poses to their decision-making, which includes approving a $4 million salary to the institution's CEO.[22] Pugh received $500,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) for 100,000 copies of her books, however the firm printing the publication confirmed it had only printed 60,000 copies.[23]

Pugh initially said that the University of Maryland Medical System were her only book sales, but on April 1, 2019, the Baltimore Sun reported that Kaiser Permanente paid more than $100,000 for copies of the book, and a nonprofit called Associated Black Charities paid Pugh's organization nearly $80,000 for copies of the book. Both organizations do business with the city of Baltimore. Associated Black Charities in turn resold some of its copies to other organizations, including CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, another Baltimore insurer.[24][25]

On April 8, 2019, all members of the Baltimore City Council signed a memorandum calling for Pugh to resign as mayor.[26] Pugh said she intended to return to office following her leave of absence due to illness.

On April 25, 2019, FBI and IRS agents raided six locations, including two houses owned by Pugh, Baltimore City Hall, and a nonprofit organization on whose board Pugh served.[27]

On May 2, 2019, Pugh resigned as Mayor of Baltimore.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Pugh lives in Baltimore's Ashburton neighborhood in the Forest Park area of Northwest Baltimore City.[8]

A runner and fitness enthusiast, Pugh has written a series of children's health books[6] called Mind Garden: Where Thoughts Grow and Healthy Holly, which advocate exercise and healthy eating.[29] She is also the founder of community programs, such as the Baltimore Marathon;[30][31] the Fish Out of Water Project, a program that promotes tourism in Baltimore City to raise money for arts programs for local youth;[29] and the Need to Read Campaign, a program designed to help Baltimore residents improve their reading skills. Pugh is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Baltimore City, Maryland Executive Branch: Catherine E. Pugh, Mayor (Democrat)". Maryland Manual On-Line. Maryland State Archives. December 12, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  2. ^ "About the Mayor". Former Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. 26 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b Fritze, John (November 9, 2016), "How does a Donald Trump administration look in Maryland? In a word, different", The Baltimore Sun, retrieved November 11, 2016
  4. ^ McFadden, David (April 1, 2019). "Baltimore mayor goes on leave as 'self-serving' book deal scandal intensifies". KMPH-TV. Associated Press. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  5. ^ CNN, Kate Sullivan. "Mayor of Baltimore resigns amid book scandal". CNN. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d Bell, Daryl (November 15, 2016). "From Overbrook High to Baltimore's next mayor". The Philadelphia Tribune. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  7. ^ Writer, Daryl Bell Tribune Staff. "From Overbrook High to Baltimore's next mayor". The Philadelphia Tribune. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  8. ^ a b Wenger, Yvonne; Broadwater, Luke (6 December 2016). "Catherine Pugh sworn in as Baltimore's 50th mayor". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  9. ^ WMAR Staff (December 6, 2016). "Who is Catherine Pugh?". ABC2 WMAR Baltimore. Archived from the original on March 18, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Wenger, Yvonne (March 25, 2016). "Catherine Pugh says experience and energy set her apart in mayoral race". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  11. ^ OBrien, Robert (January 4, 2016). "State Sen. Catherine Pugh on Community Policing, Property Taxes, and Her Run for Mayor". Baltimore Fishbowl. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  12. ^ Guy, Sally M.; Sprinkle Jody J.; et al. (February 2015). "Report of the Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission" (PDF). Department of Legislative Services Office of Policy Analysis Annapolis, Maryland. p. 56. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  13. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (12 Dec 2015), "Pugh Opens Campaign Headquarters, Officially Launches Bid For Mayor", The Baltimore Sun
  14. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (12 Apr 2016), "Elijah Cummings endorses Catherine Pugh for Baltimore mayor", The Baltimore Sun
  15. ^ Broadwater, Luke; Wenger, Yvonne (27 Apr 2016), "Catherine Pugh defeats Sheila Dixon in Democratic primary of Baltimore mayor's race", The Baltimore Sun
  16. ^ Broadwater, Luke (December 20, 2016). "Pugh sets goal of completing DOJ police agreement before Trump takes office". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  17. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay; Williams, Timothy (January 10, 2017). "Obama Races to Overhaul Police in Baltimore and Chicago Before Trump Era". The New York Times. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  18. ^ Victor, Daniel (8 April 2017). "Judge Approves Consent Decree to Overhaul Baltimore Police Dept". The New York Times. p. A18. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  19. ^ Wenger, Yvonne. "Pugh vetoes bill that would raise Baltimore minimum wage".
  20. ^ Broadwater, Kevin Rector, Luke. "Baltimore leaders propose mandatory sentence for illegal gun possession". Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  21. ^ Duncan, Ian. "Baltimore City Council committee guts proposal to create mandatory sentence for gun offenders". Retrieved 2017-08-03.
  22. ^ Richman, Doug Donovan, Talia. "Baltimore Mayor Pugh amends financial disclosure filings amid scrutiny over book sales to UMMS hospital system".
  23. ^ Darrah, Nicole (2019-04-01). "Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh takes indefinite leave of absence amid book controversy". Fox News. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  24. ^ "Kaiser Permanente, Associated Black Charities paid Baltimore Mayor Pugh almost $200K for 'Healthy Holly' books". 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  25. ^ Williams, Timothy (1 April 2019). "Baltimore Mayor Announces Leave of Absence Amid Children's Book Scandal". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  26. ^ Donovan, Luke Broadwater, Ian Duncan, Doug. "Baltimore City Council calls on Mayor Pugh to resign; she says she intends to return". Retrieved 2019-04-09.
  27. ^ Broadwater, Ian Duncan, Luke. "FBI raids Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh's City Hall office, her two houses, as governor calls on her to resign". Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  28. ^ Calvert, Scott (2 May 2019). "Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh Resigns". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  29. ^ a b "About Pugh: Giving Back to the Community". Catherine Pugh Mayor. Archived from the original on March 17, 2017. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  30. ^ Pugh, Catherine, as told to Byron Edwards (November 3, 2016). "Meet Catherine Pugh: Senator and Marathon Runner". espnW. Retrieved March 17, 2017.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ McMullen, Paul (October 19, 2001). "Pugh Didn't Hitch Her Star to Road Racing Yesterday". The Baltimore Sun. Tribune Digital. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  32. ^ Reutter, Mark; Gunts, Ed (December 12, 2015). "Catherine Pugh Opens Her Campaign Office for Mayor". Baltimore Brew. Retrieved March 17, 2017.

External links[edit]

Maryland Senate
Preceded by
James Robey
Majority Leader of the Maryland Senate
Succeeded by
Douglas J. J. Peters
Political offices
Preceded by
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor of Baltimore
Succeeded by
Bernard C. Young