Sheila Dixon

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Sheila Dixon
Mayor Dixon.jpg
48th Mayor of Baltimore
In office
January 17, 2007 – February 4, 2010
Preceded by Martin O'Malley
Succeeded by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
President of the Baltimore City Council
In office
December 1999 – January 2007
Succeeded by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Member of the Baltimore City Council
from the 4th District
In office
December 1987 – December 1999
Personal details
Born Sheila Ann Dixon
(1953-12-27) December 27, 1953 (age 63)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Political party Democratic
Relations Juan Dixon (nephew)
Children Joshua, Jasmine
Alma mater Johns Hopkins University
Towson University
Religion African Methodist Episcopal

Sheila Ann Dixon (born December 27, 1953) served as the forty-eighth mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. When the former mayor, Martin O'Malley, was sworn in as governor on January 17, 2007, Dixon, the president of the Baltimore City Council, served out the remaining year of his term. In November 2007, she was elected mayor. She was the first African-American female to serve as president of the City council, Baltimore's first female mayor, and Baltimore's third black mayor.

On January 9, 2009, Dixon was indicted on twelve felony and misdemeanor counts, including perjury, theft, and misconduct. The charges stem partly from incidents in which she allegedly misappropriated gift cards intended for the poor.[1] On December 1, 2009, the jury returned a "guilty" verdict on one misdemeanor count of fraudulent misappropriation and Dixon received probation provided she resign as mayor as part of a plea agreement, effective February 4, 2010. She was succeeded by the Baltimore City Council president, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, on February 4, 2010.

By December 2012, Dixon had completed all of the terms of her probation. The case closed by the end of 2012.[2] In March 2013, Dixon was said to be considering a return to Baltimore politics. On July 1, 2015, she announced a plan to run again for mayor of Baltimore.[3] She was defeated in the Democratic primary by State Senator Catherine E. Pugh.


Dixon was born and was raised in the Ashburton neighborhood of West Baltimore. Her father, Phillip Dixon, Sr., was a car salesman, and her mother, Winona Dixon, was a community activist, active in her church, political causes, and member of local community groups.

Dixon attended the Baltimore City public schools and is a graduate of Northwestern High School. She holds a bachelor's degree from Towson University and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.

An active member of Bethel A.M.E. Church[4] and former trustee, Dixon continues to serve as a member of the Stewardess Board. She serves on other boards, including the Institute of Human Virology, the Transplant Resource Center, the Urban Health Initiative, the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, the Living Classrooms Foundation, and the Walters Art Museum.

Twice divorced, Dixon is raising her two children, Jasmine and Joshua.[5] She is the aunt of professional basketball player Juan Dixon, who led the University of Maryland to the 2002 NCAA championship, and Jermaine Dixon, who played guard for the University of Pittsburgh Men's Basketball Team. She is a lifelong resident of the city of Baltimore.


Dixon (front, third from left) cuts the parade ribbon at the 2007 Baltimore Greek Independence Day Parade with Congressman John Sarbanes.

Immediately after university, Dixon worked as an elementary school teacher and adult education instructor with the Head Start program. She then worked for 17 years as an international trade specialist with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

In 1986, Dixon was elected to the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee representing the 40th Legislative District. In 1987, she won a seat on the Baltimore City Council representing the 4th Council District, where she served twelve years. She was elected the city council president in 1999 and again in 2003, the first African-American woman elected to this position. Dixon won her re-election race for president of the Baltimore City Council and defeated her nearest competitor (Catherine Pugh) by 21,000 votes.[6]

As City Council President, Dixon was first in the Mayoral line of succession and became Mayor of Baltimore in January 2007 when then-Mayor Martin O'Malley resigned after being elected Governor of Maryland in November 2006.[7]

Mayor of Baltimore[edit]

Mayor Sheila Dixon addressing Baltimore's Annapolis delegation on two Baltimore City gun related bills.

During her tenure, Baltimore's homicide rate dropped for the first time in the 30 years.[8] This was due to a crime plan she introduced in 2007 that focused on more community policing and using police resources to target the most violent offenders. To combat crime, Dixon appointed Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who supported her neighborhood crime strategy. In February 2008, the Baltimore City Police reported a sharp decline in homicides in Baltimore. According to police there were 14 murders in the city for the month of January, the lowest monthly total in 30 years.[9] As of April 2008, there had been a 40% reduction in murders in the city after experiencing a record high in 2007 during Dixon's first year in office.[10] By April 15, 2008, the number of murders in the city had grown to 54,[11] the lowest total to this time of the year in recent memory, putting the city on pace for 189 murders in 2008. By the end of 2008, the murder count was 234—a 17% reduction over the previous year.[12]

While her critics complained that crime had risen in Baltimore during her tenure and that she did not pay enough attention to the issue, her record shows that she had increased police patrols,[13] cracked down on the possession of illegal guns,[14] and actively secured federal and state funds for crime-fighting programs.[13]

Several city developments were completed during Dixon's tenure such as Baltimore's now thriving Inner Harbor East community, the Legg Mason Tower, and the Baltimore Hilton Hotel.

Dixon's administration led the effort to pass Baltimore's smoking ban. She allocated record funding for campaigns to clean up Baltimore streets through her Cleaner Greener Baltimore Initiative, made contracts with developers to hire locally, worked to rebuild and redevelop neighborhoods, strengthened youth and recreational programs, supported the planned Red Line (Baltimore), created a business friendly environment for minority and women owned businesses took steps to end homelessness and expanded funding for affordable housing in the city.

While mayor, Dixon was a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition,[15] an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino.

2007 Election[edit]

Dixon ran for a full term as mayor in the 2007 election and won the Democratic Party primary in September.[16] Dixon maintained a strong fundraising advantage throughout the campaign. Scores of public officials, unions and newspapers endorsed the Mayor's campaign. This includes The Baltimore Sun, The Baltimore Afro-American, the AFL-CIO, former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Minority Contractors Association, SEIU, SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Gov. O'Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Unite Here, United Auto Workers, and others.

A major issue during the primary mayoral campaign was crime. By mid-2007, homicides in Baltimore were on pace to surpass 300 for the year, the most since the early years of the O'Malley administration. On June 19, Mayor Dixon presented her crime plan to 500 Baltimore police officers,[17] but Dixon was attacked by Mitchell and Carter for not doing enough.[18] Dixon's crime plan departed from previous Mayor Martin O'Malley's as it stressed community policing and focusing on apprehending the most violent offenders as opposed to zero tolerance. As of June 19, there were 146 homicides and 340 non-lethal shootings in the city.[17]

According to Johns Hopkins University political scientist Matthew Crenson, "Everybody complains about the homicides, but I think the assumption that many voters make, especially in Baltimore, is that the mayor can't do a lot to reduce the homicide rate. And maybe Keiffer Mitchell made a mistake to make that the focus of his campaign."


By the end of July 2007, Dixon's campaign had been endorsed by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council of the Maryland AFL-CIO collectively as well as several individual union endorsements. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was the only statewide elected official to endorse Dixon until an August 13 rally where Governor Martin O'Malley gave his endorsement. Former Congressman Kweisi Mfume also endorsed Dixon at the same event in front of Baltimore's City Hall.[19] State Delegates Tom Hucker (Montgomery County), Maggie McIntosh, Curt Anderson, Cheryl Glenn, Melvin L. Stukes, Talmadge Branch, Senators Nathaniel J. McFadden and Cathy Pugh and Baltimore City Council members Robert Curran, Bernard "Jack" Young, Ed Reisinger, Stephanie Rawlings Blake and Agnes Welch have endorsed Dixon and were at the rally as well.


Dixon won the 2007 Baltimore Democratic Mayoral Primary over her closest opponent, Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr., with 63 percent of the total votes; she won against Republican Elbert Henderson in the general election in November.

2007 Primary Election results[edit]

The final, official results for the Democratic primary, as reported on the city of Baltimore's election board Web site.[20]

Candidate Votes  %
Sheila Dixon 54,381 63.1%
Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr. 20,376 23.7%
Andrey Bundley 6,543 7.6%
Jill P. Carter 2,372 2.8%
A. Robert Kaufman 885 1.0%
Mike Schaefer 762 0.9%
Frank Conaway 533 0.6%
Phillip Brown 273 0.3%

Republican candidate Elbert Henderson ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

2007 General Election results[edit]

These are the final, official results for the General election, as reported on the city of Baltimore's election board Web site.[20]

Candidate Votes  %
Sheila Dixon 36,726 87.7%
Elbert Henderson 5,139 12.3%

The "Shoe Incident"[edit]

In 1991, Dixon waved her shoe at white colleagues on the Baltimore City Council and yelled, "You've been running things for the last 20 years. Now the shoe is on the other foot."[21] This incident led many people, including some of her supporters, to view her as a divisive person.[22]

Dixon explained her earlier comment by stating that she has "matured" since making the shoe comment and that she now attempts "to communicate better with individuals."[23]

In her first inaugural address as Mayor, Dixon alluded to what she considers people's wrong impression of her and stated, "I want you to know that I am much more than a newspaper headline or a sound bite on the evening news."[24]

Fraud investigation and indictment[edit]

On June 17, 2008, investigators from the Office of the State Prosecutor executed a search and seizure warrant at Dixon's residence in southwest Baltimore. The result of, or purpose for, the search was not immediately revealed by investigators. However, several subpoenas were issued to aides, and local reports indicated that the investigation included a look at gifts, including several fur coats, as well as Dixon's spending habits. Two of Dixon's associates, campaign chair Dale Clark, and Mildred Boyer, a businesswoman who had hired Dixon's sister, pleaded guilty in Spring 2008 to tax charges and cooperated with prosecutors during the Dixon investigation. The affidavit filed to support a search warrant on the company Doracon was published on the Baltimore Sun's website on June 23, 2008. The affidavit stated that Dixon was being investigated regarding bribery.[25][26]

On January 9, 2009, Dixon was indicted by a Baltimore Grand Jury on twelve counts, comprising four counts of perjury, two counts of misconduct, three counts of theft, and three counts of fraudulent misappropriations.[1]

Dixon's trial, originally scheduled for September 8, 2009, was postponed to November 9, 2009.[27]

Fraud trial and guilty verdict[edit]

Main article: Sheila Dixon trial

In November 2009, Dixon was tried for three counts of felony theft, three counts of misdemeanor embezzlement/misappropriation, and a single count of misconduct of office. The trial began on November 10, 2009, with Arnold M. Weiner serving as lead counsel. During the trial, two counts (one theft charge and one embezzlement/misappropriation charge) were dropped when prosecutors declined to call a key witness. On December 1, 2009, after seven days of deliberations, the jury returned verdicts on four of the five remaining counts. Dixon was found not guilty of the two felony theft charges, and one count of misconduct of office. She was found guilty on one misdemeanor embezzlement charge relating to her use of over $600 worth of retail store gift cards that were intended to be distributed to needy families. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision regarding the final charge of misdemeanor embezzlement.

As the result of being found guilty, Dixon was at risk of being removed from office, and being stripped of her city retirement pension valued at over $80,000 per year for life.


On January 6, 2010, as part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Dixon announced that she was resigning as Mayor, effective February 4, 2010. Under the terms of the agreement Dixon will get probation before judgment (PBJ) in the recent case where she had been found guilty, as well as in a perjury trial that had been scheduled for March 2010. Under the Criminal Procedure Article, sec. 6–220 of the Annotated Code of Maryland,[28] a PBJ is not a conviction, thereby enabling her to keep her $83,000 pension.[29] Also, under Maryland law, a PBJ may be expunged from one's record once the probationary period is over. Dixon was sentenced to four years of probation under the terms of the agreement. She also will be required to donate $45,000 to the Bea Gaddy Foundation and to serve 500 hours of community service at Our Daily Bread. In addition, she has agreed to sell gifts she received from developers, including a fur coat and electronics that she purchased with gift cards. She agreed to not seek office anywhere in the state of Maryland, including Baltimore during the term of her probation and she will not solicit or accept taxpayer money to pay her defense fees.[30]


Dixon had been listed as a member of the former Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition,[31] an anti-gun group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." The Coalition was co-chaired at the time by former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


  1. ^ a b "Mayor Sheila Dixon indicted". Baltimore Sun. January 9, 2009. Retrieved January 9, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Ex-Baltimore mayor resolves probation violations". WBAL-TV. December 7, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2015. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Topic Galleries –
  6. ^
  7. ^ Luke Broadwater (November 9, 2006). "Dixon to become Baltimore?s first female mayor". Washington Examiner. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Mayor Reduces Murder Rate". WBAL-TV. Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Murders Drop In City In January". Wbal radio. Retrieved February 4, 2008. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Baltimore's Murder Rate". WBAL-TV. Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  11. ^ Ditkoff, Anna (April 16, 2008). "Murder Ink". City Paper(Baltimore). Retrieved April 17, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Baltimore Homicides". Retrieved July 10, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b Topic Galleries –
  14. ^ Melody Simmons (May 3, 2007). "Baltimore Mayor Unveils Strategy to Attack Increase in Gun Crime". The New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2008. 
  15. ^ "Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Coalition Members". Archived from the original on March 6, 2007. Retrieved May 18, 2007. 
  16. ^ Topic Galleries –
  17. ^ a b Agents' injuries prompt union call for review –
  18. ^ Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ O'Malley, Mfume Endorse Dixon In Mayor's Race – Baltimore News Story – WBAL Baltimore
  20. ^ a b City of Baltimore – Board of Elections
  21. ^ The Washington Informer: National
  22. ^ Campaign Beat: GOP's Campbell Takes on Sheila Dixon and the Status Quo | October 13, 1999 | Archived January 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Maryland Newsline – Maryland Votes 2006
  24. ^ [1] Archived April 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^,0,4130234.story. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008. Retrieved June 17, 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Breaking News from The Baltimore Sun". Retrieved July 4, 2010. 
  28. ^ "probation before judgment". Mitchie. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  29. ^ Lang, Robert (January 7, 2010). "In Spite Of Resignation, Dixon Can Run Again". WBAL radio news. Retrieved January 8, 2010. [permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "Dixon Announces Resignation As Mayor Of Baltimore – Politics News Story – WBAL Baltimore". January 6, 2010. Retrieved July 4, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Coalition Members". Archived from the original on March 27, 2008. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Martin O'Malley
Mayor of Baltimore
January 17, 2007 – February 4, 2010
Succeeded by
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake