Other speakers this year include University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson and tech expert Mario Armstrong.

Political observer Matthew Crenson said a Dixon return to elective politics is "not out of the realm of possibility."

"Look at Marion Barry in Washington, with much more serious baggage than Sheila Dixon has," said Crenson, a Johns Hopkins professor emeritus of political science.

Barry was mayor of Washington when he was convicted of possession of cocaine; he served six months in prison and was ultimately elected mayor again.

But Crenson said Dixon, who has remained largely unrepentant about her conviction, would have to address the issue if she were to run for office.

"She couldn't avoid it then," said Crenson.

More than half of the respondents to a poll conducted by The Baltimore Sun in 2011 said they approved of the job Dixon did as mayor. But a similar number said they would not vote her back into office.

Crenson, however, said that a poll conducted today could well get a different result, particularly if the question pitted Dixon against an actual rather than hypothetical opponent.

Donald F. Norris, chairman of the public policy department of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said it's hard to tell if Dixon's upcoming talk signals a move toward returning to elective politics — until we hear what she has to say.

"I would be listening for some indication that she is repentant for what happened," he said, "and recognition that she'd made some mistakes."

Norris said that Dixon still has supporters in town, but whether their numbers are sufficient to return her to office would depend on a number of factors — what office she might seek, her opponent and "the extent of people's memories."

Norris, however, said if Baltimore voters return Dixon to office, it would send the wrong signal.

"It would say to the outside world that a corrupt elected official can spend a little time away and get re-elected," Norris said. "That's not an image Baltimore wants, or that any city needs."



A previous version of this article gave the wrong price for an individual ticket to former Mayor Sheila Dixon's speaking engagement. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

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