Mayor-Elect Catherine Pugh wasted no time in setting out a clear agenda for Baltimoreans in her victory speech Election night. Addressing a waiting crowd of about 200 supporters and elected officials, Pugh quickly moved through thank you’s to supporters and friends and decisively laid out a set of expectations to move Baltimore forward – out of the troubles that became amplified after the death of Freddie Gray and the unrest that followed in Spring 2015.
Catherine Pugh, standing on stage with supporters, at her election night victory party. (Photo by Deborah Bailey)
Pugh used her victory speech to set priorities right away, citing remedies for the city’s unemployed and homeless among her priorities. “We have more than 70,000 people in our city who are unemployed and we have to get them working,” Pugh said. “We have 3,000 homeless people across our city. And not only is that a problem for them, it’s a problem for you,” she said encouraging everyone in the room to accept responsibility for transforming Baltimore’s large homeless community.
Pugh articulated a balanced pro-development message, signaling that she would respond to uptown neighborhoods that have been left out by recent Harbor-based TIF deals.
“I said to folks across the city, we have neighborhoods that need to be focused on,” Pugh said. “We have an opportunity to say to developers across our city, invest in us and we will work with you” she said. said. “We need to build communities where people can walk to their neighborhoods and go and sit down in a restaurant, walk to their cleaners” Pugh exclaimed.
Newly elected City Councilman Shannon Sneed was among the early arrivals at Pugh’s Victory Party and said she is looking forward to working with the Mayor-Elect.
“The Mayor-Elect was out with us in East Baltimore today and that says something,” Sneed said. “Anytime you take time out to come to our precinct that says something. We have high hopes in East Baltimore.”
Pugh in turn made special mention of the eight, new city council-elect members, saying she will make it a priority as mayor to work with the city council.
“I feel the energy of this council, the eight new folks that have joined us. I can say as mayor that I will empower you to do your job,” Pugh said.
Pugh gave a special thank you to more than a dozen city firefighters including Trey Santmeyer who supported Pugh for months. “We got behind her early on. We jumped on when she was 10 points down in the primary election. “We were the only city union that put our necks out for her. I’m excited for her to be our new boss.” Santmeyer said.
Pugh also laid out the expectation that all city employees live where they work during her victory speech. “We have created incentives for first time responders to live in our city. Those who work for me – If you work for me, live in my city.
Among the dozens of elected officials who came to support Pugh, the Mayor-Elect made special mention of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
“I am so glad to see my County Executive here from Baltimore County. We have to work together,” Pugh said stating that some Baltimore problems require regional solutions. Kamenetz, who has been mentioned as a possible Democratic challenger to Governor Larry Hogan in the 2017 Gubernatorial race, agreed.
“We’re all in this together, we’re one region. We have a lot of issues to address as a region and I think she’ll be a great partner,” Kamenetz said.
Pugh defeated Republican Candidate, Alan Walden, Green Party Candidate Joshua Harris and write-in entry, and former mayor, Sheila Dixon in the Nov. 8 election. Unofficial figures from the Maryland State Board of Elections indicate Pugh won with 119,204 votes or 57.1% of the total vote. Dixon came in second with 47,598 votes.