Why now is not the time for a new, unfamiliar face as Mayor

Op/Ed: Baltimore needs a solid bricklayer as it's next leader

With continuing allegations of book deals and possible political kickbacks being lobbed at Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh from every direction, it’s hard to imagine that she makes it out of this mess unscathed. And with an acting Mayor who has consistently reiterated that he – Council President Bernard ‘Jack’ Young – does not want the job, next year’s mayoral election is shaping up to be a real humdinger.

And while healthy and robust issue-based conversations from various candidates typically prove beneficial to the overall electorate during most democratic contests, the likelihood of more than a dozen candidates vying for the city’s top job next April may wind up further contributing to the downfall of Charm City.

Why? Well it’s simple! Currently, Healthy Holly scandal aside, the city is faced with witnessing 300+ homicides for the fifth year straight, along with just as many police commissioners over the past half a decade. It is facing a fiscal uncertainty where the city will have to decide how it contributes more money to education in order to receive the Kirwan Commission dollars being offered up by the state in the coming years, while also trying to lower property tax rates, improve local infrastructure, keep the individual tax rate low all the while losing its ability to sell homes with overdue water bills (thanks to the progressive actions of the Maryland General Assembly) and trying to get police overtime under control.

These major areas of need have Baltimore moving in the same direction as Detroit before it went belly-up. And without a leader in place that has the abilities, knowledge and understanding on the various departments and agencies, and how to navigate through a political process that even the most seasoned politician won’t understand unless they’ve lived it, we will go further into the abyss before a new face gets adjusted to life as Baltimore Mayor – just ask former state senator and councilwoman Catherine Pugh.

That is why it is imperative that we consider electing a Mayor next year that can put the city back on the right track as it relates to crime, grime and everything in between. If you look at the successes of the Sheila Dixon administration, before and after her indictment, you will see a city that prospered due to an institutional knowledge of local government. Crime reduced drastically, leading to the lowest number of homicides in the thirty years prior to 2011, while taxes remained low, infrastructure received a huge boom and the quality of life in Baltimore attracted thousands of new residents.

But when you bring in a dozen or more candidates, who may or may not be qualified for the position itself – without considering the nuances of how local government works and operates; you will see a blood bath of personal and political attacks, a wide array of innovative, though far-fetched “progressive” ideas, on how they will govern and a confused electorate that will wind up electing the next mayor with a 35% mandate at best. That is never good when trying to rally a city together, under one unified leader, who is ready and able to bring this city back to its glory days.

And while I’m sure various city council members and state delegates or senators will argue the case that they know more than they actually do, confusing an unforgiving yet naïve electorate who may equate their constituent service expertise to being able to run an entire city; it won’t be in the best benefit of Baltimore if we select a candidate who spends their first two years getting their feet wet, and the last two trying to make their time in office look appealing for their re-election.

We need to hire a fixer as our next Mayor! Someone hired to do the job necessary to turn our ailing city around in their first term, giving them four to eight years to get it right while setting up the next generation of leader to take over the reins and begin implementing some of those lofty ideas and policies, while building on the solid foundation laid out for them by Baltimore’s Bricklayer; who in many people’s opinion, based on past actions and performance, not personality, is Sheila Ann Dixon.

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