The inauguration and the parties are over. And now Baltimore’s new mayor gets down to the business of running the city.
Mayor Catherine Pugh will attend Wednesday her first meeting of the Board of Estimates. This is the spending panel that a mayor can control through two of her appointees; the public works director and the city solicitor. Each has one vote.
Pugh sent a clear signal that she will be very hands on.
“In the board of estimates meetings, I want to know every board appointment there is,” Pugh said. “Nobody gets to set up any appointed positions to evaluate proposals, and so forth, unless I know about them.”
The new mayor also wants control of the city schools. Pugh campaigned on that; saying she wanted to end the two decades old arrangement which gives the governor some say in who sits on the school board. Pugh said she has talked to Governor Larry Hogan adding he is on board to give full control to the mayor.
Pugh said there will be legislation introduced in the legislature in January to do just that.
“I want great schools all across the city. I want programs that are consistent throughout the city,” she said. “I want every child in our city to have a great education.”
Former state school superintendent Nancy Grasmick said Pugh has a track record in education; starting the Design School in the city.
“I’d like to see her have a strong relationship with the [Schools] CEO Dr. [Sonja] Santelises,” Grasmick said. “I would like her to look at the funding that the city provides to the school system because it’s fairly minimal.”
Ten students from Arundel Elementary/Middle School in South Baltimore attended a community reception for Pugh at the Middle Branch Rowing Club. It was one of four receptions held around the city following her inaugural. Deashia Dorsey, an eighth grader at Arundel, said city schools needs the basics like more books.
“Everyone is not the same; everyone has their own problems,” Dorsey said. “So people whose mother cannot afford them, I think, she should reach out to them and help them out.”
The mayor got a standing ovation when she arrived at the reception.
Pugh 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,” she 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.”
Also on her agenda: reaching out to President-elect Governor Hogan. At her inaugural, Pugh told Governor Hogan, who was sitting behind her, that she wants his help to do that.
“I’ve already prepared my letter for you to go with me to Washington, D.C. to deliver to the next president of these United States,” Pugh said. “Because when he talks about the infrastructure needs of an urban environment, I say ‘that’s our city.’”
Pugh has served in the state legislature and on the city council. During the campaign she touted her connections like Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; who said he and Pugh have been in touch about working together on issues like transportation and public safety.
“All the things that really have regional impact in areas that we can partner with the city to help the city build a great future,” Kamenetz said.