Baltimore's Mayor-in-Waiting Vows
to Clean Up City|
By Chris Yakaitis
BALTIMORE - Sheila Dixon says that when she becomes Baltimore's mayor in
January, her first priority will be a clean city.
The Baltimore City Council president, who will become the
city's first female
mayor when Martin O'Malley resigns to become governor, said
Friday that cleaning up the trash, empty cans and fast food
wrappers which seem to have become a permanent part of the
cityscape will be "a 24/7 job."
"It might be a small thing," Dixon told a press conference,
"but it's really a major thing that can go a long way."
As she prepares to become mayor of the state's largest city,
Dixon also faces the
challenge of cleaning up her own image if she hopes to win
election in her own right next year.
She became mired in two potential scandals this year, which
investigated by the state prosecutor's office. One was over a
city contract awarded to a company where her sister works, and
the other was over $500,000 worth of non-contract work done by a
former campaign chairman's firm.
"I believe I can govern effectively," she said Friday when
the probes. "I have cooperated with the state prosecutors. There
has been no
In addition, she still carries some baggage from an early
reputation as a
political firebrand. At a council redistricting meeting in March
1991, she famously
waved a shoe at her white colleagues and said, "You've been
running things for
the last 20 years; now the shoe is on the other foot."
The incident may haunt her, but Dixon, 52, said Friday that
"matured" since she was elected as the youngest member of the
19 years ago.
She said that now, she tries "to communicate better with
individuals and to
look at the bigger picture and look at all sides before just
jumping out and making a decision on a particular issue. . . .
I'm really a shy person, but I've come out a lot
more to express to people about who I am personally and the love
that I have for
people and communities and families."
Much like O'Malley said Thursday when introducing key members
of his transition
team, Dixon promised "as smooth and seamless" a transition as
introduced Atwood Collins III, an executive vice president of
M&T Bank, and Betty Bland-Thomas, president of the
Sharp-Leadenhall Planning Committee, as the chairs of her
She also stressed a desire for "consistency" in the city
administration, including at the Police Department, where
O'Malley's administration had seven commissioners in as many
years. "I like Commissioner [Leonard] Hamm," she said.
Dixon, an exercise and work-out buff, has her work cut out
for her in the coming
months. She has said that while finishing O'Malley's term as
mayor, she will also
campaign for election to the office next year. Earlier in the
week, she said she
expected a "very deep pool" of candidates to run against her.
The list of those said to be seriously considering running
includes the city
state's attorney, Patricia C. Jessamy; the city comptroller,
Joan Pratt; and two
members of the City Council, Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. and Kenneth
N. Harris Sr.
Reporters Friday pressed Dixon to give an endorsement to her
own successor in the council president's office, a question she
"I think things are going to work out very positively for
someone of great
leadership who's been a part of this whole process to become the
president," she said. "So I didn't answer it exactly,
Later, though, she said council Vice President Stephanie
Rawlings Blake would be
a reasonable choice as her successor.
"Stephanie Rawlings Blake is a leading contender. Stephanie
has worked with
my office in administration. She believes in the philosophy of
collectively," Dixon said. "Stephanie is more than capable of
No longer the youngest member of the council, Dixon at one
point said, "I'm having a senior moment" as she tried to recall
thoughts upon learning she would be mayor.
Then it came to her: "I am not giving up my workout."
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