Pledging to tackle many of the issues she addressed as a Baltimore City councilwoman, Catherine E. Pugh was sworn in yesterday as a member of the House of Delegates to replace the late Del. Tony E. Fulton.
Pugh, 55, who passed up a re-election bid for an unsuccessful run for council president in 2003, will take Fulton's seat on the House Environmental Matters Committee.
She said she has begun looking at ways to continue her work from the council, dealing with Baltimore's teenage dropout rate, adult literacy, abandoned houses, senior living, parks and other issues. "This is a great opportunity to do that," she said.
After Fulton died of cancer last month, the Democratic Central Committee in the city's 40th District, which he represented, was unable to decide on a replacement, splitting its votes between Pugh and Wendell Rawlings, son of former Del. Howard P. Rawlings.
That left the selection up to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. He picked Pugh, noting her legislative experience.
Pugh said one of her first priorities will be to push for raising the dropout age in Baltimore from 16 to 18, a change that she said would improve the job prospects of city youths and help lower crime.
She said she would also seek school construction in the city.
"When our newest school is older than Howard County's oldest school, you know we have a problem," she said.
Del. Salima S. Marriott, chairwoman of the Baltimore House delegation and who also represents the 40th District, said Pugh's council experience means she will be able to make a difference in the Assembly from the start.
Pugh will be representing many of the same constituents in the legislature that she did on the City Council, so she is familiar with the issues important to them, Marriott said. The 40th District covers parts of Central and Northwest Baltimore.
"First and foremost, she is a legislator," Marriott said. "She has extensive leadership skills. She's creative, inventive, and very, very hard working. ... This is really good for the 40th District."