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Why Sheila Dixon Is Bad For Baltimore
Douglas R. Barry  April 9, 2016

With just a few weeks left until Maryland's primary election, Sheila Dixon is running near the top of the polls. Yes, Baltimore has it's own version of Marion Barry. She knows how to run a campaign, and she is successfully relying on the short memory of voters. Everyone deserves a second chance, but the mayor's office is not where we should be rehabilitating someone who abused the same office in the not-so-distant past. A second chance means that she should be able to work in a regular job, like the rest of us. She has never shown a moment of contrition, and her calls for forgiveness have always been directly tied to her own self-interest. Her immediate response to her betrayal of the city was not to find a way to make it up to the citizens she betrayed, but instead worked to secure her pension.

Think of any other job, and think of yourself as an employer. If you owned a business and one of your employees stole from you, and only acted remorseful when you caught them and fired them for stealing, would you rehire that person if there were other decent candidates available? Ms. Dixon doesn't need the job (she is getting the $83,000 pension we have to pay for), so the argument that she should be given a second chance doesn't work. There are other candidates that deserve a chance at least much as she does, that have not given the people of Baltimore a reason to mistrust them. Does it make sense to give someone less consideration because they've never stolen anything while in office?

Our image has taken beating, not just in Maryland, but nationally or even internationally. Baltimore needs investment, and we need to show the state, the country and the world that we are taking the needed steps to make investing in Baltimore a good option. Electing Sheila Dixon again would demonstrate that we are not serious about that, and would hurt the city for many other reasons:

  • The framework for the 2015 Baltimore riots was laid during the Dixon and O'Malley administrations. Mayor Dixon's last administration did not benefit the city. Baltimore's neighborhoods continued to decay under her leadership. The city's decline and loss of employment started long before she became mayor, but no innovative solutions began while she was in office. Instead, she served as a caretaker for a failing system.
  • A reduction in crime did not coincide with the Dixon administration. Crime rates in Baltimore were trending downwards before Ms. Dixon took office. Certain types of crime went down while she was mayor. Other crimes fluctuated. The murder rate dropped significantly after she left office. Yes, community policing has proven to be a good idea, but she is not the only candidate that will reinstitute community policing.
  • There is no reason to believe her dishonesty would not have continued if she hadn't been caught. People are always sorry after they get caught. If she hadn't been caught, she very easily could have continued her dishonest behavior for years.
  • Baltimore needs outside investment. No city in the country in the country needs to show they are serious about fixing their problems more than Baltimore does, and the city can't do that by electing someone who had to resign in a corruption scandal.
  • The budget was not well managed while Dixon was mayor. To be fair, no recent mayor has done a great job with the budget, but bringing back someone who failed at managing city funds is a bad idea. The Dixon administration ended with 121-million dollar budget deficit. Listening to her campaign rhetoric, she continues to propose addditional expenditures without any way of paying for those new ideas. She has said nothing about weeding out wasteful expenses and corruption.
  • Sheila Dixon is the most divisive candidate running. Ms. Dixon herself has stressed that bringing the city together is a critical issue. She says we should vote for her, because she will bring the city together, but much of the city will never be behind her. By her own reasoning, she should be the last candidate anyone votes for.
  • Washington suffered consequences for reelecting Marion Barry. Baltimore will suffer consequences if Sheila Dixon is elected again. Washington lost influence in Congress by electing Marion Barry, and put the final nails in the coffin for the D.C. statehood movement. There is a good chance we will have a Republican Congress again. For a Congress that is not motivated to accomplish much of anything as it is, we would not be giving them an incentive to send more money our way.
  • Dixon did not get a raw deal. If you read comments online, you will find Dixon reporters that claim she was framed, that claim she was treated unfairly or that she was targeted. There is no basis for statements like this. A lack of remorse does not mean there was a lack of guilt. She has not made any claims that she got treated unfairly, and that's because the opposite is true. She got a sweetheart deal. She served no jail time. She kept an $83,000 pension that is paid by taxpayers, and she is running for mayor again.
  • If there are no consequences for misconduct in office, there is no incentive to be honest. This has ramifications beyond Sheila Dixon. It contributes to the culture of a political system in which elected officials continually put their own self-interest above the needs of the people they are supposed to be serving. As long as we keep giving people like her a pass, the system will not be fixed, and the numerous problems facing cities like Baltimore will remain unresolved.
  • If you think Stephanie Rawlings-Blake handled snowstorms badly, then you're forgetting that Sheila Dixon (and for that matter Martin O'Malley) did NOTHING as mayor to get side streets cleared. People remember failures more than successes, and the January, 2016 blizzard is still fresh in everyone's memory, but after the current mayor mishandled the first snow storm under her watch, she acknowledged that she didn't handle that well, and took proactive steps to clear the neighborhoods. The 2009 and 2010 storms that left some residents stranded over a week happened under the Dixon administration, and there was no effort to improve the snow removal process.

Sheila Dixon had no significant accomplishments in her previous administration. There was no effort to bring jobs into the city, and her election now would scare away employers. If she truly cared about the city, she would not be running. But it's not her mission to look out for the city. Her mission is to look out for herself. She has been plotting her way back into power since the day she resigned.

There are some good choices for mayor. Nick Mosby*, Elizabeth Embry and Carl Stokes would all be far more effective in dealing with the city's problems than Sheila Dixon would be. The city needs new leadership, because what we have done in the past has brought us to where we are now, and we can't afford to let the city continue to decay.

*Nick Mosby has since withdrawn from the race for Baltimore Mayor.

This article was updated 4/19/16.

©2016 Maryland Complete