Catherine Elizabeth Pugh became the 50th mayor of Baltimore Tuesday before a standing room only crowd at the War Memorial Building.
Her inauguration attracted not only a who’s who of Baltimore politicians and officials, but a who’s who of state leaders as well; Democrat and Republican. That included Republican Governor Larry Hogan who said he is optimistic about Mayor’s Pugh’s leadership.
“I have no doubt that she will work tirelessly to address the problems facing Baltimore and to revitalize this great city,” he said.
Hogan said the two have a shared vision for the city and he is looking forward to a renewed relationship between the Governor’s Office in Annapolis and the Mayor’s Office at City Hall.
Pugh, who is leaving her state senate office, shared the same sentiments in her inaugural address. In fact, she said she already prepared their first order of business together; going with her to Washington to deliver the next president – Donald Trump – a letter.
“Because when [Trump] talks about infrastructure needs of an urban environment, I say ‘that’s our city,’” she said. “When he talks about creating jobs and opportunities, I say ‘that’s our city.’”
The mayor renewed her pledge to focus on revitalizing neighborhoods as well as focus on downtown development.
“We understand that downtowns are really important but so are uptowns and neighborhoods,” she said. “From east to west; north to south; every neighborhood deserves to be the greatest.”
Pugh also praised the accomplishments of her predecessor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. But she acknowledged that the city still faces some challenges.
“We know that people choose cities for two specific reasons; they want great schools and they want low crime,” she said, “and we’re committed to doing that.”
Pugh showed her excitement several times during the ceremony, including exclaiming “MAYOR” as she took the oath of office administered by Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Shirley Watts.
And she spoke of her roots, growing up in suburban Philadelphia and coming to Baltimore to attend Morgan State University. She earned two degrees from the school.
Morgan State Bear pride was evident throughout the ceremony. The school’s choir sang the National Anthem and musical interludes throughout the ceremony. And Pugh had her own cheering section, the members of her old cheerleading squad from their undergraduate days.
The cheerleaders came from all around the country to cheer their former teammate on.
There was Diane Lada, who made the trip from Illinois. She said the new mayor won’t quit and that she will help people who need it most.
“Every community in the city of Baltimore should be the best community,” Lada said. “Whatever the makeup of that community is; each community should be the best. That’s what she is going to fight for.”
Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Politics Center at Goucher College, watched the inauguration. She said the theme of the day was partnership. And that the dignitaries in the audience are a testament to Pugh’s ability work across party lines.
“When you see Democrats, Republicans; county executives, the governor and leadership in the General Assembly, they’re excited for Catherine Pugh to take the helm of Baltimore,” Kromer said.
Mayor Pugh’s first stop after her inauguration was a community celebration at Middle Branch Park in South Baltimore. The mayor said later this week she and her cabinet will hit the streets.
“We’re going to be walking neighborhoods and communities that have been neglected,” Pugh said. “We’re going to be talking to them about their commitment to make sure we fix those neighborhoods and communities and that we put resources in those communities.”