Sheila Dixon: Maryland's first black governor?
Mayor Sheila Dixon is walking a treacherous path in Annapolis. As the Baltimore Sun’s Julie Bykowicz reports today, Dixon has encountered some critics among the city delegation in the state capitol, who say that on certain issues, she doesn’t communicate enough with them.
As Bykowicz reports, the mayor’s role in Annapolis is important. Working with legislators, she must make sure the city doesn’t get rolled by interests from other parts of the state who are concerned that Baltimore gets too much assistance.
That’s particularly important this year, when a budget crisis is forcing deep cuts, and programs that Baltimore residents rely on could face the ax. Her effectiveness during the 2009 session is almost certainly hampered by the criminal corruption charges hanging over her.
The most influential local leaders appear to be those who have an eye on higher office. Before Dixon, two of the last three mayors of Baltimore went on to become governor. Other ambitious county executives such as Jim Smith in Baltimore County and Doug Duncan and Ike Leggett in Montgomery County have skillfully worked the corridors of the State House to make themselves players.
But if Dixon aspires to higher office, she doesn’t show it. And she doesn’t seem to approach her Annapolis visits as a statewide coalition-building opportunity.
Her role in the state capitol raises an interesting question. If Maryland is to have its first black governor, will that leader come from Baltimore? Can a mayor of Baltimore who is black get elected statewide? Is there any way Dixon could be that person? The answer to that last question, right now, appears to be no.