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Baltimore residents greet new mayor at events throughout the city

Newly sworn-in Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh attends a Humanim event. (Carrie Wells, Baltimore Sun video)

As Mayor Catherine E. Pugh made her way through a throng of hugs, handshakes and photographs at the Baltimore Rowing and Aquatics Center, 92-year-old Ernestine Brockington pulled her close and whispered into her ear.

"I told her I'm glad she made mayor," the Cherry Hill woman said. "I wish her all the success in the world."

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Brockington said she'd voted for Pugh in every election in which she has campaigned during her long career in government.

"She's not a talker," Brockington said. "She's a doer."

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The sentiment was shared by several of Pugh's supporters who attended a series of Inauguration Day community events hoping for a chance to meet Baltimore's 50th mayor. Many brought up the image of Pugh walking the street in Penn-North after the April 27, 2015, riot when asked why they'd voted for her.

Martha Miller, 73, of West Baltimore, said she was impressed by Pugh wading into a volatile situation and calling for calm amid a swirl of raw emotion.

"It was so moving," she said.

Sean Mintz, 24, of West Baltimore said Pugh showed "a lot of courage" by walking right into the unrest.

"It shows it doesn't matter your age or gender, you can do positive things," he said.

Marques Dent, 32, a Belair-Edison resident who is the information technology director at the Maryland State Police, said it was a real-life example of Pugh's focus on the city's children.

"She was on the front line," Dent said.

Pugh's persistence in running for mayor again and again heartened him, he said during an event Tuesday at the Du Burns Arena in Canton. He also likes Pugh's commitment to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in education.

"She's a fighter," Dent said. "She's consistent. Her message hasn't changed. It's been about the young people. She never once wavered on what she was committed to."

Pugh told supporters that she was visiting community centers both to thank them for their votes and to set a precedent of being a "servant leader" who is accessible and listens to residents' concerns.

She said she plans to walk with her cabinet through some of the city's most underserved neighborhoods.

"We're going to be walking through neighborhoods that have been neglected," she said. "We're going to be talking to them about their commitment to make sure we fix those neighborhoods and communities, and that we put resources in. ... This is a part of what we should be doing."

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Before giving brief remarks at the rowing center, Pugh greeted a group of students at the back of the room from Carter G. Woodson Elementary/Middle School in Cherry Hill.

Their teacher, Melvin Worthington III, said he brought them to hear their new mayor tell them what the future has in store for them.

It was a chance, he said, to give them a positive look at government — "for them to see a real life expression of how government works for them."

Mary Laukaitis and John Schmidt, who volunteer on the social action committee at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Jonestown, said they hope Pugh's incoming administration will assist the crowds of people living on the city's streets and in the church's adjacent park.

"I want to see fewer tents" on the streets, said Laukaitis, 72, a retired nurse.

Schmidt, a retired airline analyst, said he was happy to hear Pugh mention homelessness as a priority.

"We think her emphasis in that area is right on," he said.

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