Board pushes to reinstate Sen. Jill Carter as Baltimore's director of civil rights

Members of the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission are advocating for Mayor Catherine E. Pugh to reinstate state Sen. Jill P. Carter as director of the city’s civil rights office.

Carter stepped down in May to the position of deputy in the agency after City Solicitor Andre M. Davis informed her that state ethics law prohibits her from holding the positions of state senator and director of the Baltimore City Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement at the same time.

Carter, a lawyer, has told council members she disagrees with the way Davis, a former federal judge, interprets the law.

Commission members wrote Pugh this month, telling the mayor that Carter’s reinstatement to the top of the agency is “critical” to its mission and warning her departure could be a “blow to a body that needs leadership stability.” The council investigates claims of discrimination in Baltimore.

“We ask that Director Carter be reinstated as soon as possible,” wrote the Rev. S. Todd Yeary, the commission’s chairman.

The Office of Civil Rights works with the commission and the Civilian Review Board — a panel that provides civilian oversight for police, reviewing cases of alleged misconduct and providing recommendations to the Baltimore Police Department.

Pugh has been advertising for a new director for the office since last month.

The mayor said Thursday she’s “grateful for the role [Carter] has played in the department,” but doesn’t see how she can lead the agency while being a lawmaker in Annapolis.

“Each year, because of her new position and role as state senator, she is required to be in Annapolis 90 days, a quarter of the year, to serve her constituents and the citizens of Baltimore who elected her,” Pugh said.

Carter and the city solicitor declined to comment.

Carter, a former state delegate, was an early supporter of Pugh during her run for Baltimore mayor in 2016 and was seen with her frequently on the campaign trail. After becoming mayor, Pugh hired Carter to lead the civil rights office.

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