BALTIMORE — Catherine Pugh’s resigning as mayor of Baltimore prompted swift responses from political leaders in Baltimore and further afield in Maryland.
Long-time City Council President Jack Young, who was serving as Ex Officio Mayor prior to the resignation and will not step into the role official, said he was informed of Pugh's resignation at 3:35 p.m. by City Solicitor Andre Davis. He said it was effective immediately and in the best interest of the city. As ordained by the Baltimore City Charter, Young becomes the 51st Mayor of Baltimore.
Young released a statement shortly after Pugh officially stepped aside:
For the past month, I have traveled the city and worked hard to keep government’s focus on providing essential services to our citizens. I have spent time in classrooms working with some of the brightest minds our public school system has to offer. I have unveiled a number of development projects that stand as symbols to the commitment that many people have to our city. I have convened several meetings of the Mayor’s cabinet, where I have stressed the importance of teamwork in delivering for the citizens that we’re privileged to serve. I pledge that my focus will not change. I have listened to the concerns of our citizens and I will continue to work diligently to address those concerns. Although I understand that this ordeal has caused real pain for many Baltimoreans, I promise that we will emerge from it more committed than ever to building a stronger Baltimore. Charm City is wonderful and is full of resilient people who are working hard every day to move our City forward. You all deserve recognition, and I will spend my time as mayor working alongside you. I’d like to also give special recognition and thanks to the thousands of public servants who’ve come to work each day under challenging and uncertain circumstances and put forth their best collective effort. To the people of Baltimore, thank you for your faith in me and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and continuing to work on your behalf.
The City Council will vote internally to select a new City Council President. Whomever assumes the leadership position will create a void in their representative district in the city. A new Councilperson will be appointed to serve out the term.
“Today is a day of relief and accountability for Baltimore," said Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott in a statement released to the media. "Now the city can move forward with tackling the vast challenges facing Baltimore including improving our schools and reducing crime. I look forward to working with all of our local, state and federal leadership to get Baltimore back on track.”
Both Young and the new council president will serve until upcoming elections in 2020. Young has said he will not run for mayor in the next election, instead running for City Council President in the hopes of assuming the role again.
“This was the right decision, as it was clear the mayor could no longer lead effectively. The federal and state investigations must and will continue to uncover the facts," Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement following Pugh's resignation. “Baltimore City can now begin to move forward. The state pledges its full support to incoming Mayor Jack Young and to city leaders during this time of transition.”
If Young doesn’t run for mayor in 2020, it will leave a wide-open field in the Democratic Primary for mayor. With Baltimore’s voter rolls containing a 2-to-1 edge in Democrats to Republicans, the Primary tends to act as the de facto election.
“Mayor Pugh's resignation affords Baltimore the opportunity to address its challenges with courage and optimism. I applaud the responsive and diligent work of the Council, who have put forth a number of reform proposals aimed at preventing a similar leadership crisis in the future," Maryland Democratic Party Chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings said in a statement following Pugh stepping aside. "In the coming months Baltimore residents and their elected officials will consider Charter Amendments and other proposals that will rethink the structure of City Government so that it can better serve the citizens of Baltimore. We must restore faith in the City's leadership, and I think thorough consideration of these reforms is an excellent place to start.”