Catherine Pugh campaign blames misunderstanding for upset Baltimore workers

Baltimore residents seeking election day jobs from Pugh campaign upset. Spokesman blames misunderstanding.

Some Baltimore residents who expected to work for state Sen. Catherine Pugh’s mayoral campaign Tuesday instead damaged vehicles outside of her campaign headquarters after being told there were no jobs available.

A spokesman for Pugh’s campaign called it a misunderstanding. Anthony McCarthy, the spokesman, said Pugh decided “they will be paid” regardless.

A crowd of about 100 people lined the block outside Sandi’s Learning Center on North Ellamont Street, many of them saying they were promised election day jobs.

About a dozen police officers were on the scene and two security guards were at the door. Police said they responded for a report of property destruction.

The front windshield of a van had been smashed and tires were slashed. On another van, the driver’s side window had been broken.

Police made one arrest: charging Jerome Eric Tuggle, 53, of Baltimore, with destruction of property in connection with the incident, according to department spokesman T.J. Smith.

"The suspect used a rock or a brick to break out the window on a security vehicle in the area," Smith said.

Many in line had showed up late and had missed training sessions, McCarthy said, so they were told they were not eligible to work.

Upon hearing about the disturbance, Pugh ordered that anyone who wanted to work would be allowed to, McCarthy said.

All of them were being bused to polling sites to work, he said.

Mecca Wakil, 31, a hair stylist, rearranged clients to make an extra $100 to work for the Pugh campaign Tuesday. But when she and others arrived around 5 a.m., she said all of the jobs were taken.

She said many in the crowd had gone through an orientation and filled out applications this month. Some were recruited to work during early voting events. Some in the crowd got angry and beat on the doors, she said.

Windows of two nearby vans were broken and tires were slashed. But later in the morning, the crowd was calm and had formed a single-file line around the block as more people were allowed inside Pugh's headquarters.

Wakil said she voted for Pugh because of her experience.

"I figured she could help do something for the city," he said.

But after her experience trying to work for the campaign, she said she wished she had voted for businessman David Warnock.

James Warren, 26, a cook from East Baltimore, said he used his day off to come work for the Pugh campaign. He had been canvassing neighborhoods for the campaign previously and planned to vote for her Tuesday, "but the way this turned out, I want to go sit in the house."

If he does vote, he said he'll support former mayor Sheila Dixon.

Warren said he doesn't blame Pugh, but said her campaign is disorganized. Warren asked why so many people were asked to report to work when they didn't need that many.

McCarthy said opposing campaigns were attempting to fan the flames by telling Pugh campaigners already out at polls that they wouldn’t be paid.

“It is indicative, really, of how nasty and ugly this campaign has gotten,” he said.

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