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Politicsby Fern Shen12:15 pmJan 3, 20190

Pugh: Hold me accountable – and give me money

After criticism following another year of 300-plus murders, Baltimore’s mayor fires back with a re-election pitch

Above: Then-candidate Catherine Pugh speaks at a forum held at Morgan State University during the 2016 primary campaign. Now she’s looking toward 2020. (Fern Shen)

After last week’s stinging Washington Post story highlighting Baltimore’s persistently high murder rate – during a year that saw 309 homicides – some wondered if the bloodshed and bad press might hurt Mayor Catherine Pugh’s 2020 reelection chances.

So, apparently, did Pugh.

An email sent out yesterday by her campaign organization touted her administration’s accomplishments and asked for campaign contributions so that she could continue the work begun when she took office in December 2016.

“I take tremendous pride in the positive steps we made together in 2018, always aware that we still have a lot of work ahead of us this year,” Pugh says at the top of an email circulated by the Committee to Elect Catherine E. Pugh.

It closes with this ask – “In honor of all we look forward to accomplishing in 2019, please give $20.19 today.”

Other donations are specified, themed to the upcoming annus that Pugh is pledging to make less horribilis.

Supporters can click on options to send her war chest $209.10 or $2,019.

“We will make investments”

Along the way the letter makes the case for why Pugh should get another four years as Baltimore’s top leader.

The mayor’s theme is “accountability,” perhaps responding to activist J.C. Faulk’s plea in The Brew or to a letter writer responding to the Post piece who decried the “vacuum of accountability” in Baltimore.

“When I say that we will make investments in our city’s too-often overlooked neighborhoods, hold me accountable,” the letter says.

It notes that her administration has “torn down dozens of blocks of decrepit housing” and “brought in tens of millions of dollars in public and private investment, specifically targeting those areas that will truly benefit from increased opportunity.”

Likewise, “hold me accountable,” Pugh implores, on opportunities for youth, which she says she has increased through the YouthWorks program and other initiatives.

“Not simply one person’s job”

On crime, however, the pitch letter puts it a little differently:

“Hold all of your leaders accountable for crime.”

Pugh goes on to say that “it is not simply one person’s job, though in this area I do believe that everyone should look to the mayor first.

“In 2018, we reduced crime city-wide, removed hundreds of guns off the streets, and invested in growing, training, and equipping our understaffed police force,” the email continues, referencing the “positive impact” of the Violence Reduction Zone program.

The 10% reduction in homicides from 2017 is also noted, with the caveat that “it is not nearly enough.”

Finally, there is reference to the role of the police commissioner, as Baltimoreans wait to see if the fourth person to hold the job during Pugh’s administration will be confirmed by the City Council.

“Along with our new police chief, I promise you that we will continue to make progress,” the mayor pledges.

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