Use Code BALT69 for a $69 Ticket to One Day University on July 9

Pugh's team of rivals

How about a Team of Rivals in City Hall? Here's who Pugh should hire.

State Sen. Catherine Pugh, the Democratic nominee for mayor, has started giving some hints about whom she'll want in her cabinet (assuming she clears the minuscule hurdle presented by the general election), and so far she's making good choices. Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen's name came up in each and every one of our endorsement interviews with mayoral candidates. She's a slam-dunk to keep in city government. Likewise, it makes sense to keep police Commissioner Kevin Davis at least for now. Though violent crime remains at unacceptable levels, he has generally won support from the community and rank-and-file for his reform efforts. Given that the city is still waiting to see what the Department of Justice will require after its review of the city police's civil rights record, there's no reason to change chiefs now.

Perhaps more intriguing was Ms. Pugh's hint that she might want to tap some of the outstanding talent from this year's pool of mayoral candidates. She mentioned two: engineer Calvin A. Young III and former bank operations manager Patrick Gutierrez. We second that idea. Mr. Young, who has a Harvard MBA in addition to his engineering degree from NYU (and a Poly education to boot), has a sharp analytical mind and a lot of tech savvy. Put that man in charge of CitiStat, which has withered under the Rawlings-Blake administration. Mr. Gutierrez is a good systems thinker and problem solver, not to mention a people person who connected strongly with audiences during mayoral forums and debates. We'd like to see him tasked with improving city government customer service.

But we would advise her not to stop there. Many of the candidates for mayor this year have a great deal to contribute. Call it a team of rivals approach or a keep your friends close and your enemies closer strategy. Either way, it would channel much of the positive energy from Tuesday's election into the new administration. Here are ideas for how Ms. Pugh could best make use of her former competitors:

Elizabeth Embry. If we elected people based on position papers alone, attorney Elizabeth Embry would have won in a landslide. She is overflowing with good policy ideas on economic development, government accountability, public safety and more. She would be a great chief policy adviser, or perhaps city solicitor. Granted, Ms. Embry accused Ms. Pugh of unethical fund-raising practices during the campaign, so bringing her into the administration might be a stretch, even if it would make Ms. Pugh look especially forgiving. Ms. Pugh should at least steal liberally from Ms. Embry's ideas, which align nicely with the future mayor's agenda.

DeRay Mckesson. Most of Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson's professional experience is in education — he is a former teacher and administrator, having served in high ranking positions in the Baltimore and Minneapolis school systems. He understands the inner workings of North Avenue and would be a stellar pick for the school board.

Nick Mosby. City Councilman Nick Mosby's decision to drop out of the mayor's race and endorse Ms. Pugh led to rampant speculation that he had cut a deal for a job in a Pugh administration, which both sides deny. It would be a good idea, though. His professional management background plus his experience on the City Council and on the campaign trail could make him valuable in a number of roles. Of course, he wouldn't be a bad pick to replace Ms. Pugh in the state Senate, should the members of the 40th District Democratic Central Committee be so inclined as to nominate him.

Sheila Dixon. Actually hiring former mayor Sheila Dixon is a practical, political and symbolic non-starter for Ms. Pugh. But Ms. Dixon did employ a number of outstanding staff members when she was in office, and Ms. Pugh would do well to reach out to some of them about their willingness to re-join city government. Former deputy mayor Andy Frank, for example, has remained deeply involved in community development issues as a top aide to Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels. He would be a great chief of staff and a unifying pick after a hard-fought election.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
73°