BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The 50th mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, has been sworn into office.
WJZ was live at the ceremony, which was moved inside the War Memorial Plaza due to weather.
It began with a presentation of colors by the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore City Fire Department, and the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office. That was followed by the National Anthem and an invocation.
Pugh, who also runs a public relations firm and served on the City Council for five years before joining the Maryland General Assembly, has succeeded Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who abandoned her re-election bid amid civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray.
Pugh spoke for about 10 minutes after she took the oath of office surrounded by her brothers, and signed her name as the 50th Mayor of Baltimore. You can listen to her full remarks below.
Gov. Larry Hogan, Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Elijah Cummings were among the other speakers at the ceremony.
Hogan spoke first.
“Baltimore has endured through some difficult times,” he said. “But it is when the challenges are greatest that effective leadership is needed most. And I know firsthand that Mayor Pugh is a fierce advocate for the people of this community. And I have no doubt that she will work tirelessly to address the problems facing Baltimore and to revitalize this great city.”
“Mayor Pugh and I have a shared vision for Baltimore,” he went on to say. “We both want to ensure that every single child has access to a world class education regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in. We both want to foster a pro-jobs economic climate here in the city. And to build build better and safer communities.”
Sen. Barbara Mikulski spoke next, joking that Pugh already made “her first executive decision,” to bring the ceremony indoors.
“That in and of itself shows that she will provide common sense leadership and she knows if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, but if you can’t stand the cold, get out of the City Hall Plaza.”
She added that Pugh is an effective leader who “has a framework of the future for Baltimore.”
Senator Ben Cardin thanked Pugh for stepping forward.
“You have an incredible record of service to Baltimore. What you have done already to help our beloved city,” he said. “But we know you’re just starting. That you have the next chapter to help our city.”
The Morgan State University choir also performed. Mayor Pugh became emotional watching her alma mater and was seen wiping tears from her eyes.
Next Congressman Elijah E. Commings spoke about Mayor Pugh, calling her “a prolific and awesome legislator. Not only in the city council, but also in the Senate of the state of Maryland.”
He praised her love for the city of Baltimore and said “she’s been prepared for this moment, prepared to make a difference.”
Finally, Mayor Pugh addressed the crowd.
“I cannot be more excited, more enthusiastic, more blessed,” she said. “Because I believe that everything I have done before this moment has prepared me for this particular point in time.”
She thanked Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and praised the other former mayors. She promised to work with Governor Larry Hogan and the Baltimore City Council, and said she looked forward to working together.
“I will be Mayor for all of Baltimore. I recognize that we do have shortcomings, but we’ve had some great things going on in this city. We will move our city forward. We will face the challenges. We will make Baltimore great again. It is a great city. But we can make it greater.”
She vowed to continue the good work of Mayor Rawlings-Blake, citing her efforts to get rid of the thousands of boarded up houses and committing to continue this critical program to get rid of blight in the city.
Mayor Pugh reminded everyone she was a cheerleader at Morgan State, and told the crowd she will be the greatest cheerleader “this city has ever had.”
Baltimore City Councilmembers, former mayors Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Sheila Dixon, as well as former Governor Martin O’Malley were also on stage for the ceremony.
In the primary, Pugh defeated a large field, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who resigned after a fraud conviction in 2010.