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"Commissioner Batts would not have been hired under my administration because I know what we had was working and if the current administration would've kept that in place and built on that, we would not have seen, I strongly believe, what happened in the case of Freddie Gray and … the riots would not have happened."--Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon
"Commissioner Batts would not have been hired under my administration because I know what we had was working and if the current administration would've kept that in place and built on that, we would not have seen, I strongly believe, what happened in the case of Freddie Gray and … the riots would not have happened."--Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon on Tuesday released a 19-page plan to improve economic development in Baltimore that includes a $15 hourly minimum wage for city workers, a $21 million investment in job training and increased emphasis on growing women- and minority-owned businesses.

"Our first job as a city is to make sure our residents are safe," Dixon said in a statement. "But to really turn our city around, we need a plan to empower the people of Baltimore with jobs and opportunity. We will reduce poverty and create opportunity by making our city safer and investing in our people. My plan provides good jobs and higher wages for the people of Baltimore."

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A leading candidate to become Baltimore's next mayor, Dixon wants to rebuild rail infrastructure to boost the Port of Baltimore, expand the Baltimore Arena and the Baltimore Convention Center and accelerate development in Park Heights.

She also wants to create a Land Bank to speed up revitalization of vacant homes, reduce city property taxes "responsibly," and reform the process through which the city awards tax subsidies to developers.

"It is difficult, if not impossible, to cut taxes in a jurisdiction that spends more on public safety than schools," Dixon's plan states. "And while many point to other cities who have done it, in all cases the state filled the revenue gap for some period of time. In the absence of that kind of support, those who call for dramatic cuts to taxes will need to explain what cuts in services will need to be made."

Dixon, who has already released an anti-crime plan, has led early polls in the mayor's race. Other Democrats running include state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, City Councilmen Carl Stokes and Nick J. Mosby, lawyer Elizabeth Embry, businessman David L. Warnock, activist DeRay Mckesson, engineer Calvin Young III and former bank operations manager Patrick Gutierrez.

The Democratic primary is scheduled for April 26. In Baltimore, there are 288,000 registered Democrats, 46,000 unaffiliated voters, 31,000 Republicans, 1,200 Libertarians and 1,100 Green Party members.

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