Mayor Catherine E. Pugh pledged that one of her first acts as Baltimore's leader would be to write a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump. Last week, she got to deliver it in person.
At a recent press briefing, Pugh described giving Trump a Baltimore pin and the two-page letter stressing the city's need for infrastructure funding. She approached him shortly after he arrived at last week's Army-Navy football game at M&T Bank Stadium.
It wasn't exactly a detailed policy meeting, but Pugh said she wanted to grab the opportunity.
"When he stepped out of his vehicle, I was the only elected official there," she recalled. "He walked over to me and I said, 'I am the mayor of Baltimore,' and he said, 'I know.'
"I said, 'I'm very excited about being the mayor of Baltimore' and 'welcome to Baltimore — so glad you could be in our city at such a great time as the Army-Navy game. But I want you to know that I heard what you said about infrastructure and why we should be your model city right down the street.'
"I said to him, 'The infrastructure in our city is in disrepair.'"
Pugh, a Democrat, said she then detailed the requests made in her letter, including federal funding for Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's Port Covington project, expanding the Howard Street tunnel, repairing Baltimore's water pipe infrastructure and building the city's broadband infrastructure.
The Trump administration has pledged a $1 trillion national infrastructure improvement plan.
After Pugh finished making her quick pitch, Trump, a Republican, responded: "That's good. Let's take a picture," according to Pugh.
"So we took a picture. And I said, 'I really need you to pay close attention to the fact that we can be your partner," Pugh said.
She said former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump ally, then approached her.
"And then Giuliani walked by and he says 'Hey Mayor,' and I said 'Hey mayor, I need you to make sure he understands how important this is,'" Pugh recalled.
She then handed Trump the letter and a Baltimore pin and said, "Every time you look at it, I need you to think of Baltimore."
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The Trump transition team did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Pugh said she took a different approach than the Baltimore City Council, which voted this month to condemn Trump's rhetoric. She said she learned from her time in the General Assembly that it is more effective to work across party lines.
In Annapolis, she said she made friends with Republicans such as Barry Glassman, who went on to be Harford county executive, and Allan Kittleman, who became Howard county executive. She said she got important bills passed because I "worked across the aisle."
Pugh said she chose to include infrastructure requests in her letter to Trump in part because the city is under federal mandate to fix its water infrastructure.
"When you put federal mandates on the city, it ought to come with money," she said.