Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh remains on a medical leave of absence this week, as does the question of whether or not she will return to office. Pugh intends to return to office once she recovers from pneumonia, but many have called for her to resign amidst controversy surrounding her business dealings. Though reactions from leaders in Baltimore’s Jewish community are varied, many feel that Pugh cannot recover from the controversy.
Howard Libit, executive director for the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC), the legislative arm of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, said that the BJC has not issued a statement on whether or not Pugh should resign. Libit, however, who previously served as an aide for former Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, predicted Pugh would face an uphill battle should she return to office.
“Given the unanimous position of the City Council that the Mayor should resign, and the call from the city’s largest business organization that she should resign, it will be very difficult for the Mayor to return to her position,” Libit said.
Pugh’s leave of absence began April 1, and came during an investigation by the Office of the State Prosecutor into past sales of Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s book series to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), and other entities with business ties to the city. Pugh was a board member of UMMC until this year.
A week after her leave of absence began, the Baltimore City Council, including Councilmen Zeke Cohen (D-District 1) and Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (D-District 5), unanimously demanded Pugh’s resignation, as did State Delegates representing Baltimore City.
Then, on April 12, the board of the Greater Baltimore Committee, an organization of business and civic leaders representing the region, also voted unanimously to call for Pugh’s resignation.
“The city needs to move forward. We need to get beyond this,” said Del. Sandy Rosenberg (D-District 43). “All the evidence in the newspapers, not just in [The Baltimore] Sun, but in other publications, demonstrates that we need a new mayor.”
Rosenberg went on to say that he has confidence in the leadership of Ex-Officio Mayor Jack Young.
On Monday morning, WBAL-TV 11 reported that Sen. Ben Cardin would not say if Pugh should step down.
“That’s going to be up to the people of Baltimore. It’s up to Mayor Pugh,” Cardin said.