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Baltimore Mayoral candidate lobbies younger constituents in Annapolis

RR Interview with Senator Catherine Pugh
RR Interview with Senator Catherine Pugh
GCOMM Media Co.

In a growing field of Mayoral contestants, this individuals works could make her stand out in the crowd

Written By: Victoria Kent

Last week, students from Maryland's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) came to Annapolis to tour the grounds of Maryland's capital while also receiving an unexpected tutorial about the legislative process from one Baltimore City state senator. Seemingly unaware of an earlier hearing on a bill introduced by the Senator that speaks directly to their life as an HBCU student - SB347, a Task Force bill looking a the graduation rates at the state's HBCUs – the students seemed very comfortable with the former City councilwoman and graduate of Morgan State University.

Baltimore City Senator Catherine Pugh, one of the early talked about favorites in Baltimore's upcoming Mayoral election race, seemed to introduce a host of bills that were aimed at education and finding alternative ways to either increase the learning structure for students or build on possible mishaps and failures through various state mandated policies. This bill, which is one of 47 bills introduced by the 40th district senator, calls for a higher education task force to examine those graduation rates and see how Maryland can improve on it, with the report due to the state legislators by January 2013.

From the education reform of raising the mandatory age requirement for a student's enrollment in school to 18 to establishing an after-school and summer learning activity program that would be set up to provide grants to specific organizations serving public school youth – the second term senator is taking full advantage of her legislative powers, by ensuring people's needs are met on a state level. Having co-sponsored over 65 bills as well, Pugh seems to have surpassed all other City legislators in her quest in becoming the best “get something done in 90-days” state senator Baltimore has ever seen. However, others see it more as a political ploy, done only to be placed on campaign literature as to say 'look what I've done'. A campaign tactic that some say won't see the light of day outside the committees they are assigned, therefore having no real chance at passage.

“This is being done by Senator Pugh merely to allow her campaign communications staff the ability to be able to point to what she has done in the legislator, not to actually see results,” says Guy Murphy, a Pigtown resident who believes that it should be illegal for someone to be able to run for an office, while already holding another without the chance of losing the one they are currently upholding. “She can run, say and do whatever she wants over the next few months, and whether she wins or loses, she still has an elected seat to fall back on? That is not the way the framers intended for America's democratic process to work.”

Yet speaking to Senator Pugh's work ethic, past employees and friends such as Carl Stokes communication staffer and WEAA radio show host Anthony McCarthy say Senator Pugh is one of the hardest working women he has seen in the political process. The former Dixon spokesman called Pugh a “sincere Senator with a heart of gold and she has always been like that, in terms of the introduction of a lot of bills, and she studies, concentrates and puts her heart into each and every one,” said McCarthy. Researching her legislative work habits since her election in 2006, one would see not only did she fight hard once in Annapolis, but she also fought hard to get to state capital – fending off then incumbent Delegate Salima S. Marriott and former City Council President Lawrence Bell.

Therefore, with that type of political perseverance, some believe it is exactly what is going to make it hard to defeat her if she decides to run for Baltimore Mayor. “She has the tenacity, the citywide experience and name recognition from her 2003 run against Sheila Dixon for Council President and certainly enough money to make an incredible impact in this year's Mayoral race,” said GCOMM Media Co. political strategist Hassan Giordano. “Being one of at least three individuals coming out of that West Baltimore mob - Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Frank Conaway Sr. and possibly Jill Carter being the others – I can see her making an appeal to East Baltimore women and others, especially that younger demographic as she seems to being able to reach younger generation folk through conversation, however it still remains to be seen as to how her campaign effectively, or ineffectively, reaches out to that new social media, Facebook and Twitter generation?”

Following though with Mr. Giordano's comments, Pugh has recently posted a sign-up list serve post on her Facebook page which goes directly to her website, in order to have people registered on the web page. This is a smart and very interesting move from someone who has yet to announce her intentions to run for the post, says Hassan. “To state that she is focused on the legislative process during session is a smart move, as that is what she was elected to do. However, gaining the needed possible district captains and volunteers from area zip codes through a website sign-up sheet is great strategy, striking first as many citywide candidates will try and reach out to that 'viral generation'. However, most candidates won't appeal to the users if they are looked at as either disingenuous, or have campaign staffers who don't know exactly how to balance the line between keeping the followers engaged and involved, while knowing how to be 'politically correct' in their many tweets or FB status comments or quotes.”

Though her many pieces of legislation seem to speak directly to the needs of not only her legislative district, they also reach beyond district lines and address the ills faced by most Baltimoreans - despite age, race, gender or political district. As one HBCU student from Coppin State stated to me, “She was probably the most approachable, direct and kind legislators we've seen up here today, as most either frowned upon us and kept it moving, or greeted us as if we were cute and cuddly, but not serious political science majors at major universities.” I think Senator Catherine Pugh's short yet concise address to the many Coppin, Morgan, UMES, Salisbury, Sojourner-Douglass and Bowie State students, went a long way in assisting in their educational process – both pertaining to how laws are passed and how people get elected by simply being kind, pleasant and respectable to all.

The writer is a graduate of Loyola University where she majored in English and currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of GCOMM Media Co. Kent is also working on her first novel, due to be released in the Spring of 2012. For more information on this article or Ms. Kent, you can e-mail her at vkent18@yahoo.com.

To contact Mr. Giordano you can email me here, follow me on Twitter, Friend me on Facebook, listen to the weekly Reporters' Roundtable BlogTalkRadio show or view services provided by GCOMM Media Co. here.

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