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Fact-checking what Baltimore mayoral candidates said in the first TV debate

On Tuesday, six leading Democrats running for mayor of Baltimore made various claims — mostly true, but some false or exaggerated — during the first televised forum of the campaign sponsored by The Baltimore Sun, WJZ-TV, the University of Baltimore and Baltimore City League of Women Voters.

Here's how some statements candidates made stack up to the facts:

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What state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh said: "I will move us forward ... building new schools in our city, similar to the Baltimore Design School, the first new school built in the city in 30 years, the school I helped to build."

Analysis: Pugh's claim that the Design School is the first built in the city in 30 years comes down to semantics. Many new charter schools have opened in Baltimore — including two that a campaign rival, City Councilman Carl Stokes, helped open and one co-founded by fellow candidate David L. Warnock — but Pugh doesn't count those because they are public charter schools.

What former Mayor Sheila Dixon said: "One of the reasons I supported the Horseshoe Casino is ... we would use that new revenue to reduce the property tax. That's not happening."

Analysis: This statement could lead a viewer to believe money from the Horseshoe Casino is being used for proposes other than cutting taxes. But, according to the city's budget director, money from the Baltimore Horseshoe casino wasn't used to cut property taxes last year because the revenue simply wasn't there. The casino did not perform up to projections.

What businessman David L. Warnock said: He would "create a Red Line that goes from Social Security and dead ends at Lexington Market. It will create thousands of jobs and allow people on the Westside to get to those jobs on the Eastside."

Analysis: Warnock did not provide details on how he would resurrect a modified version of the nearly $3 billion Red Line that Gov. Larry Hogan rejected last year. Since the line relied mainly on state and federal funds, it is outside the power of a mayor to unilaterally create. Warnock says on his website he would develop relationships with lawmakers in Annapolis and neighboring jurisdictions to build the line.

What City Councilman Nick J. Mosby said: "As the City Council president, Ms. Dixon, and as a council member, Ms. Pugh, sat and watched hundreds of thousands of young men in East and West Baltimore be arrested every single year."

Analysis: While Mosby is referring to the era of "zero tolerance" policing imposed by former Mayor Martin O'Malley, he exaggerates the number of arrests. When Dixon was City Council president, arrests ranged from 90,000 to 110,000 per year.

What lawyer Elizabeth Embry said: "I am the only person on stage who has done the actual work of fighting crime."

Analysis: While Embry is the only prosecutor in the race, she's not the only one with experience fighting crime. Dixon, as mayor, oversaw the city police department, working on a "targeted enforcement" strategy with former police commissioner Fred Bealefeld.

What City Councilman Carl Stokes said: "We didn't do audits in this city. ... I passed a law so that now we do audits for all our departments."

Analysis: This statement could use more clarity. Baltimore's government does conduct an annual audit of city finances and multiple other audits per year. Stokes is referring to agency-level audits. Under the legislation he sponsored, 13 key city agencies must undergo performance and financial audits every four years.

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