This year’s Baltimore mayoral race has been called the most important in a generation – one year after widespread unrest that rocked the city’s foundations. With 13 candidates on the Democratic ballot and 5 hopefuls on the Republican side, the eyes of the nation were on who the city would pick as its next leader.

Senator Catherine Pugh speaks on election night with her staff and supporters at the Baltimore Harbor Hotel on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Baltimore. Pugh, a three-term state senator who also runs a public relations firm, has won the Democratic nomination in Baltimore's mayoral race.  (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP) WASHINGTON EXAMINER OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Senator Catherine Pugh speaks on election night with her staff and supporters at the Baltimore Harbor Hotel on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Baltimore. Pugh, a three-term state senator who also runs a public relations firm, has won the Democratic nomination in Baltimore’s mayoral race. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

On April 26, Catherine E. Pugh claimed victory in the race to be mayor. Given that Baltimore is overwhelmingly a Democratic stronghold, she is all but assured of being the next mayor.

Pugh’s narrow primary victory was celebrated this week in the shadows of a hotly contested election.  Pugh won by a slight 37% to 34% margin- less than 2,900 votes – over Sheila Dixon, the former mayor of Baltimore, who sought to regain her seat in this year’s election. The current results are subject to change, however. The official count of votes begins April 28 and may take up to a week to complete. The current count also does not include absentee ballots and provisional ballots.

On Election night, Pugh seemed aware of the work that she still needs to do to transform her celebration into one that can unite the entire city in November. “For the first time, we can focus on some of those neighborhoods and communities that we have left out, “ Pugh said during her victory speech.

Several leading figures from Baltimore’s Public Colleges and Universities offered Pugh congratulations – and a healthy dose of acknowledgement that the work for Pugh and the city is just beginning. Morgan State University President David Wilson is ready to get to work with Pugh and get on with the goal of improving life for Baltimoreans. “I’ve worked closely with Senator Pugh over the years and have found her quite effective in getting things done. The city has many challenges that need attention and as Maryland’s public urban research university and an anchor institution in this community, we are ready to roll up our sleeves”, Wilson said.

John Willis, professor of government and public policy in the College of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore and Secretary of State for Maryland from 1995 to 2003, acknowledged that Pugh needs to bring many still skeptical people together. “The next mayor of Baltimore will need to work hard to unify the city. Although there remains a general election to win, Senator Pugh is well positioned to form a strong team before an inauguration in December to help her tackle the significant challenges inherent in managing a complex, major urban government.”

On the city’s west side, Solomon Iyobosa Omo-Osagie II, Professor of Political Science and History at Baltimore City Community College, also warned that Pugh must get right to work in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. “The city desperately needs economic, educational, and cultural resurgence and in all ramifications after the image beating it took in the pre and post Freddie Gray case and the riots and destruction that ensued. She has quite a task before her,” Omo-Osagie said.

Omo-Osagie stressed that Pugh will need to reach out to her opponents before taking a victory lap in the November General election. “Will the other losing candidates actively engage and encourage their supporters to vote? Senator Pugh needs a large voter turnout to cement any claim she may have that the citizens of Baltimore City meant it when they chose her over the other candidates. It will signal that the city residents and voters have chosen to move forward in making the city stronger with “new” leadership” he said.