“We need you, Sheila!”
(BALTIMORE – April 22, 2019) – It’s simple: She is best suited for the job! Further, she is the biggest threat to anyone seeking to be mayor of this fine city.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of opinions from a variety of people on the topic of whether or not Sheila Dixon should run for Mayor of Baltimore in 2020, especially on the heels of Mayor Catherine Pugh’s book scandal.
As expected, some want to paint a story line that attempts to frown on Dixon’s political tenure. Yet, as mayor and despite the challenges she faced at the time, I am constantly reminded she still effectively governed the city better than anyone since. To the detractors I say, and I’ve been wanting to say this for a very long time: Stop letting mainstream media, which has never given a damn about Baltimore’s black community, act like it knows what’s best for the City of Baltimore. Repeatedly, the mainstream media has failed us. They always want to tell us who our heroes are. I don’t know about you, but they damn sure don’t speak for me.
The last time around, nearly the entire Democratic establishment in Maryland – with the aid of the media – sided against Dixon for Mayor and was instead “hoodwinked, bamboozled and run amuck” by the self-centered and childish pranks of Catherine Pugh. This same Democratic machine – with Martin O’Malley fingerprints everywhere (if you ask me) – supported Stephanie Rawlings Blake. Both Blake and Pugh clearly demonstrated that they had no interest in serving the black people of Baltimore. While Pugh was pushing “Healthy Holly”, Blake was pushing a disastrous Gran Prix race.
Neither one was ever seen walking the streets of East or West Baltimore without an entourage. Neither really related to the average black person in this town. Sure, there are those who sometimes get embraced by the Democratic Party, but generally speaking, the Maryland Democratic Party is elitist. Only those privileged African Americans can get the wink of, for example, a Rep. Elijah Cummings. The quintessential example would be his wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who now heads the Maryland Democratic Party.
If that isn’t nepotism at its finest, especially at a time when the Democrats are struggling to find their footing both statewide and nationally, then I don’t know what is. I am disappointed that shamelessly, Cummings has even promoted his wife for Governor of Maryland when she had absolutely no track record here. I just don’t get it. Too many people have never even heard of her and certainly wouldn’t recognize her if she walked down the street.
Do know that I went to hear her at the War Memorial Building when all of the Democratic nominees for Governor were on the stage to speak. All she spoke about was how Gov. Larry Hogan was the devil. She not once discussed how the Democratic Party here in Maryland has failed black people. Not once did she suggest more accountability at Baltimore City Public School headquarters, nor did she mention the new influx of white addicts on the streets and in the allies of Baltimore’s black community. She also failed to mention the murder rate that now has “Bodymore, Murderland” as the murder capital nationally.
Be that as it may, Cummings was one of the key people on stage the night Catherine Pugh snatched the election from Sheila in 2016 by about 2,000 votes. This was the same election that had 1,800 reported voting irregularities. But, did Cummings question the boards of election at the city and state level? No.
Cummings is also the man who wobbled up to Penn-North back during the Freddie Gray Uprising. And guess what? We haven’t seen him there since. Meanwhile, he wants to preach to us: “Black people, you gotta step up your game!” That’s what he told us up at Empowerment Temple when then-Mayor Blake was a featured guest at a Freddie Gray Town Hall. Why won’t he step-up his own game? We are tired of his sermons. We need resources in the black community, not bike lanes. We need our businesses to have equal access to the same opportunities that majority firms get all too often. And we need developers who come and get sweetheart deals to hire black people for jobs.
That’s what a mayor is supposed to do: help empower the community in which they were elected to serve.
Obviously, Cummings was okay with Pugh as the winner. Obviously, he was okay with the manner in which the election was conducted and apparently didn’t see anything wrong with votes not being counted, chicken boxes being given to voters, ex-offenders not getting an opportunity to vote as promised, or the Election Day riot at Pugh’s West Baltimore office.
Yet, one can almost guarantee that he’ll put his 2 cents in the next election, given a chance.
Let me also reiterate this from a previous column: Neither Pugh nor Blake were black mayors. They represented white interests. Their support for the black community was limited to the African American elite, at best.
The end result was the first riot in 47 years and the first mayor that we know of in recent times to go into hiding. Both Blake and Pugh were catastrophes as mayors because they were not legitimate and recognized leaders. You can’t make this stuff up!
In 2016, Dixon said that we could have had a mayor who could hit the ground running. She already knows where the bathroom is and she has her pulse on the city. She travels all around without a bodyguard. She doesn’t need executive protection, nor does she want it.
Dixon can walk down Pennsylvania Avenue and people know her and speak to her. She can go to Mondawmin, Canton, Security Mall and Govans: People come up to her and ask her if she is running. All facts!
As for any opposition seeking the chief executive slot, I say, “Bring your lunchbox.” I will go so far as to say that Dixon can beat any candidate with the heart to get in this race, bar none.
She has a viable base. She knows how to raise money. But, more importantly, she can get a grip on the massive hemorrhaging this city is currently experiencing. People are leaving. Businesses are leaving. And, families looking to move to this area prefer the surrounding counties. The opioid pandemic is off the charts and the homeless population is burgeoning fast as Fentanyl has made the heroin and cocaine on the streets even more lethal. The men and women of the Baltimore City Fire Department (bless their hearts) are being over-burdened with responding to an increase in overdoses like never before. To say the least, this new generation of illegal drugs is deadlier than ever. Cops have said that there is now Fentanyl found in some marijuana confiscated.
Sheila Dixon knows this dilemma all too well. She knows what HIV and addiction did to her own family. She knows what it means to raise someone else’s child. She has seen crime in her own Edmondson Village neighborhood skyrocket. Her own house was even burglarized. She has also seen the tremendous dummying down of our students such that 13 Baltimore high schools reportedly had no students who were proficient in math and 46% of Baltimore’s public schools received a 2 out of 5 star rating from the State of Maryland in 2018. And she has seen the countless families disaffected by a murderous rampage relentlessly ruling these streets.
The thing is, though, Sheila is a fighter. Actually, she is a black belt. She has fought against the toughest opponents and is showing no sign of weariness. I am still a fan, and I know I’m hardly alone as people ask me every single day if she is running. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a half-million times: “We need you, Sheila!”
So, here’s an answer. Over the weekend, she stated she is “considering” a run in 2020. Her supporters know damn well what that means. And her opponents know – or at least, they should, too.