|50th Mayor of Baltimore|
|Assumed office |
December 6, 2016*
|Preceded by||Stephanie Rawlings-Blake|
|Majority Leader of the Maryland Senate|
January 14, 2015 – December 6, 2016
|Preceded by||James Robey|
|Succeeded by||Douglas J. J. Peters|
|Member of the Baltimore City Council|
Catherine Elizabeth Crump
March 10, 1950
Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||Morgan State University (BS, MBA)|
|*Council President Bernard C. Young is serving as acting mayor after Pugh took an indefinite leave on April 2, 2019.|
Catherine Elizabeth Pugh (born March 10, 1950) is an American Democratic politician serving as the 50th and current 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. She is 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.
Early life and education
Born Catherine Crump on March 10, 1950, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Catherine Pugh was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her seven siblings. In 1967, she graduated from Overbrook High School in Philadelphia. After high school, Pugh moved to Baltimore City, Maryland to attend Morgan State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, a public service sorority.
Career before politics
In 1988, Pugh founded a public relations firm, Pugh and Company. 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. 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, where she was the host of "Another View", a weekly public affairs program that focused on policy issues within the black community and featured interviews with community leaders and public officials.
Baltimore City Council
Maryland General Assembly
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. 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.
2016 Baltimore mayoral campaign
In 2015, Pugh entered the race for mayor of Baltimore and launched her campaign headquarters in the city. 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. Pugh won the Democratic primary with 37% of the vote to Dixon's 34%. She won the November 8 general election with 57% of the vote, and took office on December 6, 2016.
Mayor of Baltimore
Pugh succeeded Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as Baltimore's 50th mayor. As mayor, she inherited numerous issues developed under the Rawlings-Blake administration. First and foremost, 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. 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.
Additional issues the Pugh administration faces include 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."
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. The Baltimore city council voted to water down the legislation.
In March 2019 Pugh was revealed to have accepted $500,000 from the University of Maryland Medical System while 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. 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 actually ever printed 60,000 copies.
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.
On April 8, 2019, all members of the Baltimore City Council signed a memorandum calling for Pugh to resign as mayor. Pugh has said she intends to return to office following her leave of absence due to illness.
Personal life and community involvement
A runner and fitness enthusiast, Pugh has written a series of children's health books called Mind Garden: Where Thoughts Grow and Healthy Holly, which advocate exercise and healthy eating. She is also the founder of community programs, such as the Baltimore Marathon; the Fish Out of Water Project, a program that promotes tourism in Baltimore City to raise money for arts programs for local youth; 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.
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- Duncan, Ian. "Baltimore City Council committee guts proposal to create mandatory sentence for gun offenders". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
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- "Kaiser Permanente, Associated Black Charities paid Baltimore Mayor Pugh almost $200K for 'Healthy Holly' books". baltimoresun.com. 2019. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- Williams, Timothy (1 April 2019). "Baltimore Mayor Announces Leave of Absence Amid Children's Book Scandal". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
- Donovan, Luke Broadwater, Ian Duncan, Doug. "Baltimore City Council calls on Mayor Pugh to resign; she says she intends to return". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved 2019-04-09.
- "About Pugh: Giving Back to the Community". Catherine Pugh Mayor. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
- 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)
- McMullen, Paul (October 19, 2001). "Pugh Didn't Hitch Her Star to Road Racing Yesterday". The Baltimore Sun. Tribune Digital. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
- Reutter, Mark; Gunts, Ed (December 12, 2015). "Catherine Pugh Opens Her Campaign Office for Mayor". Baltimore Brew. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
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| Mayor of Baltimore