- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

BALTIMORE (AP) - Catherine Pugh promised in her first speech as Baltimore’s mayor-elect on Wednesday to revitalize the city’s neighborhoods, prioritize community policing and work to take back the public school system from state control.

Pugh, a Democrat who has represented some of the city’s poorest areas in Maryland’s senate, also announced her transition team, and laid out other plans. She’ll be sworn in as mayor on Dec. 6.

“We really care about communities in our city,” she said. “When I say communities, it’s not just about housing. It’s making sure people have supermarkets and food deserts are erased; that people can walk to the drug store or pharmacy, go to the cleaners and get their clothes done in their neighborhood. … It’s about community development and economic development.”

Pugh said she intends to keep Commissioner Kevin Davis as police chief, and stressed the importance of public-private partnerships and community-oriented policing practices, particularly after the Department of Justice’s scathing patterns-and-practice investigation into the Baltimore Police Department, which found officers routinely used excessive force, made unlawful stops and were racially discriminatory.

“The police must respect the community,” she said. “We want the police to be walking up and down the street, we want to make sure they know their communities, that they know their neighborhoods, and we’re going to make sure that will take place.”

She said other top priorities include:

- lobbying the legislature to pass a law returning the city’s public school system to the mayor’s authority after nearly 20 years under state control

- reorganizing the embattled housing department, recently the subject of a lawsuit alleging that women living in public housing were sexually harassed and assaulted by janitorial staff

- and improving public transportation.

Pugh held her news conference at Sarah’s Hope, a shelter run by a public-private partnership in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood where Freddie Gray’s death set off rioting after his neck was broken in the back of a police van.

Pugh said she isn’t nervous about having to work with a Republican-controlled Congress and President-elect Donald Trump, particularly because Baltimore presents so many economic opportunities.

“I think we can make the argument, whether Democratic or Republican, that the capacity to create jobs is here in Baltimore,” she said. “You talk about putting people to work? A perfect opportunity would be to provide dollars to fix the infrastructures of cities. I think we will fare well.”

As for Trump himself, she said she never met the man: “I was never on his TV show.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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