Sheila Dixon (Democratic Party) was a member of the Baltimore City Council in Maryland.
Dixon (Democratic Party) ran for election for Mayor of Baltimore in Maryland. Dixon lost in the Democratic primary on June 2, 2020.
Dixon was a candidate for mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. Dixon was defeated in the general election on November 8, 2016. She lost the Democratic primary that took place on April 26, 2016. On October 11, 2016, Dixon filed to run for mayor as a write-in candidate.
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Dixon was first elected to the Baltimore City Council in 1987. She was elected City Council President in 1999, and Mayor of Baltimore in 2007. She resigned in February 2010 as part of a plea deal after a corruption investigation.
See also: Mayoral election in Baltimore, Maryland (2020)
Democratic primary election
Republican primary election
Withdrawn or disqualified candidates
The following candidates ran in the Baltimore mayoral election.
|Baltimore Mayoral Election (2016), General Election, 2016|
|Democratic||Sheila Dixon (write-in)||22.10%||51,716|
|Unaffiliated||LaVern Murray (write-in)||0.02%||46|
|Independent||Frank Logan (write-in)||0.01%||33|
|Unaffiliated||Sarah Klauda (write-in)||0.01%||25|
|Democratic||Mack Clifton (write-in)||0.01%||23|
|Republican||Steven Smith (write-in)||0.00%||8|
|Source:State of Maryland Board of Elections, "Official 2016 Presidential General Election results for Baltimore City," accessed September 9, 2019|
The following candidates ran in the Democratic primary of the Baltimore mayoral election.
|Baltimore Mayoral Election (2016), Democratic Primary, 2016|
|Democratic||Calvin Allen Young III||0.49%||646|
|Source:Maryland State Board of Elections, "Official 2016 Presidential Primary Election results for Baltimore City," May 31, 2016|
Ballotpedia survey responses
See also: Ballotpedia's Candidate Connection
Sheila Dixon did not complete Ballotpedia's 2020 Candidate Connection survey.
Dixon's campaign website listed the following themes prior to the primary election:
... Sheila Dixon released an expansive environmental plan to make Baltimore a cleaner, greener safer and healthier city. Sheila Dixon is the only candidate for mayor who has released a comprehensive environmental plan, and has to date released comprehensive plans on crime, economic development, housing and public health.
The demand for safe, decent and affordable housing in Baltimore greatly exceeds the supply. This is a problem with a direct and immediate impact on the safety, health and economic wellbeing our residents, and it demands a swift response with accountability from our city’s leadership. I propose several initiatives that will increase the number of units of affordable housing and remove barriers to accessing quality affordable housing.
In Baltimore, some of the strongest predictors of health and well-being are public safety, housing, education, environmental exposure, and employment. Many of Baltimore’s health challenges have origins in the economic and racial inequities of our city. Promoting health for all means understanding and confronting the root causes of these disparities. This understanding is essential to developing and implementing health policies that lead to successful interventions that in turn make life longer and more enjoyable for every resident.
People want to live, work, learn, play and invest in communities that offer a high quality of life. Public safety and economic development work hand in hand. To restore faith and confidence Baltimore must become a much safer city. Therefore, the neighborhood and economic development strategies in this report should be read as companions to my “Four Point Plan for Making Baltimore Safer.”
Each one of our children is precious and born with unlimited potential. We must nurture that potential in our schools, which are the heart and hub of the communities they serve. Our schools must be safe, meet modern building standards, and provide academic rigor enriched with the arts, athletics and community service opportunities.
Crime & Safety
I believe the number one job of the Mayor is to make City of Baltimore safer for everyone. This has been a year of profound hardship for our city. With the painful loss of Freddie Gray, the entrenched conflicts that his death brought to the surface, and the horrifying spike in violence that followed, we all strive to find words of healing and actions to match. But that takes leadership, and that is what I’m offering the citizens of this city.
- ↑Maryland Board of Elections, "Baltimore City 2016 Presidential General Election Local Candidates List," October 11, 2016
- ↑Sheila Dixon for Mayor, "About Sheila," accessed April 22, 2016
- ↑The Baltimore Sun, "Dixon pleads guilty, receives probation, resigns post, effective in February," accessed April 22, 2016
- ↑State of Maryland Board of Elections, "Official 2016 Presidential General Election results for Baltimore City," accessed September 9, 2019
- ↑State of Maryland Board of Elections, "Baltimore City 2016 Presidential Primary Election Local Candidates List," accessed February 4, 2016
- ↑ 6.06.16.26.18.104.22.168Sheila Dixon for Mayor, "Strategic Plans," accessed April 22, 2016
- ↑ 7.07.17.27.37.47.5Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributable to the original source.
Sheila Dixon trial
The trial of Sheila Dixon, then mayor of Baltimore, started on November 9, 2009. It was the first of two scheduled trials for Dixon on a variety of charges. The charges stemmed from alleged corruption on the part of the mayor involving gifts she allegedly received and gift cards she allegedly stole.
A verdict was reached on December 1, 2009. Dixon was convicted on one count of misappropriation of gift cards. The jury was hung on one other count, and all others resulted in acquittal.
The case against her left speculation about her future. While the city of Baltimore has no provision for removing a mayor from office, the Maryland Constitution bars convicted felons from serving in elected office. On January 6, 2010, Dixon announced she would step down as mayor on February 4, 2010.
The charges against her also resulted in a snub by President Barack Obama. Obama reversed an invitation of Dixon to the White House in a conference of seventy mayors, supposedly due to the charges she was facing. This was despite the fact that Dixon had endorsed Obama for president during the election and his arrival in Baltimore days before the inauguration.
Events leading up to the trial
Investigation and indictment
On June 17, 2008, investigators from the Office of the State Prosecutor executed a search and seizure warrant at Dixon's residence in southwest Baltimore. The result of, or purpose for the search was not immediately revealed by investigators. However, several subpoenas were issued to aides, and local reports indicate that the investigation includes a look at gifts, including several fur coats, as well as Dixon's spending habits. The affidavit filed to support a search warrant on the company Doracon was published on the Baltimore Sun's website on June 23, 2008. The affidavit states that Dixon is being investigated regarding bribery.
On January 9, 2009, Dixon was indicted by a Baltimore Grand Jury on twelve counts, comprising four counts of perjury, two counts of misconduct, three counts of theft, and three counts of fraudulent misappropriations.
Dixon continued her work following her indictment, despite the charges.
The case was later dropped, but a new set of charges were filed after the evidence was re-organized.
Dixon's trial, originally scheduled for September 8, 2009, was postponed to November 9, 2009.
Dixon's indictment included the following charges:
- Four counts of perjury for failure to list gift cards on financial disclosure statements from the fiscal years 2004-2006.
- Three counts of theft of more than $500 of gift cards that she had solicited for donations to needy families, but had then used for personal use.
- Three counts of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary for the use of the gift cards on various dates at various stores.
- One count of corruptly stealing and converting for her own use Toys R Us gift cards purchased by Baltimore City.
- One count of misconduct in office.
The trial for all the non-perjury charges opened on November 10, 2009 with a plea of not guilty.
Dixon's response to trial
Despite her career and freedom being on the line, Dixon held the attitude throughout the trial that it'll be "business as usual" for the city of Baltimore. Outside of court hours, she continued to conduct city business and making appearances.
She reported "excitement" about the trial, due to the prospect of putting it behind her.
Dennis M. Sweeney, a retired Howard County judge, was appointed to be the judge presiding over the trial.
Arnold M. Weiner was Dixon's lead defense attorney.
Ronald Lipscomb was originally scheduled to testify against Dixon as part of a plea deal. Lipscomb dated Dixon in 2004, and was alleged to have provided Dixon with gifts. As a developer, he had won contracts in some high-profile projects around the city. Lipscomb ultimately did not testify because the prosecution believed that the defense would attack his credibility. This led to two of the seven charges being dropped.
The initial days of the trial were dedicated to jury selection. It was recommended by media that the defense select middle-aged African-American females, similar to Dixon.
The state made an unusual move of hiring a private consultant for the trial. Ronald Matlon, a retired Towson University professor, was hired to help the state in selecting jurors. The defense attorneys used social media during jury selection and found potential jurors had been tweeting about the case during jury selection. 
Twelve jurors were picked, along with six alternates.
Dixon left the courtroom after the first day describing the trial to reporters as "interesting."
Dropping of two charges
On November 17, 2009, two of the charges were dropped. These charges pertained to those for which Lipscomb was supposed to testify. The judge ruled that without his testimony, there would not be enough evidence that would allow for conviction. This left five charges remaining.
Deliberations proceeded for seven days without a verdict. During that time, the foreperson sent multiple requests to the court for more information and instructions.
One juror had questions regarding whether Dixon acted with "the intent to deprive the owner of property". The juror wanted to know if intent could be determined by the actions of the defendant at the time of the action, or at a later date. The judge did not provide specific guidance and told the juror to refer to the juror's instructions.
On December 1, 2009, the jury found Dixon guilty on one charge of misdemeanor embezzlement for violating her fiduciary duties to the city and citizens of Baltimore by using approximately $530 in retail store gift cards intended to be distributed to needy families.
She was found not guilty on two more serious felony theft charges, and not guilty on one charge of misconduct of office. The jury was unable to come to a verdict regarding a second charge of misdemeanor embezzlement.
Response to verdict
Responses to the verdict from the jurors and citizens around the Baltimore area were mixed.
One juror, Elaine Pollack, known as "Juror no. 11," admitted after the jury that she had kept secret from her family and employer that she was a juror throughout the trial, and her mother did not know at the Thanksgiving dinner that she had been entertaining a Dixon juror. Pollack had also encountered Dixon during the trial when she attended the unveiling of a new flamingo at Cafe Hon, an event at which Dixon was present. Pollack was also one of several jurors who texted each other via Facebook, prompting, in part, Ms. Dixon's post trial motions.
Return to work while awaiting sentencing
In the days following the conviction, Dixon returned to her job as mayor. Under the Maryland Constitution, Article XV, section 2, an elected official of Maryland or any incorporated municipality in the state of Maryland is suspended from office once convicted of a felony or misdemeanor relating to his or her duties and responsibilities. Although a jury had found Dixon guilty on one misdemeanor count, she was not formally convicted until sentenced by the presiding judge,  thus allowing her to remain in office.
Former Baltimore mayor Kurt L. Schmoke stated that Dixon owed her constituents an apology.
On January 6, 2010, as part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Dixon announced that she was resigning as Mayor, effective February 4, 2010. Per the Baltimore city charter, City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake succeeded her. Under the terms of the agreement Dixon will get probation before judgment (PBJ) in the recent case where she had been found guilty, as well as in a perjury trial that had been scheduled for March, 2010. Under the Criminal Procedure Article, sec. 6-220 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, a PBJ is not a conviction, thereby enabling her to keep her $83,000 pension. Also, under Maryland law, a PBJ may be expunged from one's record once the probationary period is over.
Dixon was sentenced to four years of probation under the terms of the agreement. She also will be required to donate $45,000 to the Bea Gaddy Foundation and to serve 500 hours of community service at Our Daily Bread. In addition, she has agreed to sell gifts she received from developers, including a fur coat and electronics that she purchased with gift cards. She agreed to not seek office in the city of Baltimore or state of Maryland during the term of her probation and she will not solicit or accept taxpayer money to pay her defense fees.
In November 2012, Dixon was charged with violating the terms of her probation, for failure to make restitution payments to charity on schedule. Dixon, however, made her full payments to charity and her probation was lifted after December 2012. 
- ^Annie Linskey (January 10, 2009). "It's difficult to remove a Md. mayor from office". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- ^Annie Linskey (February 20, 2009). "Dixon's invitation to White House abruptly withdrawn". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- ^https://web.archive.org/web/20080906155900/http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/baltimore_city/bal-dixon0617,0,4130234.story. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008. Retrieved June 17, 2008.
- ^pdf copy of affidavit. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- ^"Real Estate - Capital Gazette". Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
- ^"Mayor Sheila Dixon indicted". Baltimore Sun. January 9, 2009. Archived from the original on January 18, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-09.
- ^Annie Linskey (January 13, 2009). "Dixon and Holton get back to work". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- ^Linskey, Annie (July 30, 2009). "Dixon faces new charges". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
- ^"List of charges against Mayor Sheila Dixon". The Baltimore Sun. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- ^ ab"Dixon theft trial opens with plea of not guilty". The Baltimore Sun. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- ^Linskey, Annie; Bykowicz, Julie (January 11, 2009). "It's business as usual for Dixon a day after indictment". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
- ^"Dixon Excited About Upcoming Trial". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2014-04-18.[dead link]
- ^https://web.archive.org/web/20120302065424/http://www.wbaltv.com/news/21463705/detail.html. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2010.
- ^Roberts, Randall. "Entertainment - entertainment, movies, tv, music, celebrity, Hollywood - latimes.com - latimes.com". Calendarlive.com. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- ^http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bal- md.jury09nov09,0,2780472.story
- ^"In unusual move, state employs jury consultant". The Baltimore Sun. 2009-11-11. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- ^Bishop, Tricia. "Lawyers turn to social media to analyze potential jurors". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
- ^[dead link]
- ^[dead link]
- ^https://web.archive.org/web/20091123160645/http://wjz.com/local/bribery.Baltimore.City.2.1323892.html. Archived from the original on November 23, 2009. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
- ^"Topic Galleries". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- ^Vozzella, Laura (December 2, 2009). "Laura Vozzella: The prolific Juror No. 11 finally gets to speak out". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011.
- ^[dead link]
- ^"Article XV". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- ^"Mayor Dixon Reflects on Trial". WBAL radio. Retrieved 4 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
- ^https://web.archive.org/web/20091206101137/https://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hSstza-DO7dHnBaXIuL3acmuHtDwD9CBEJQO0. Archived from the original on December 6, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2009.
- ^"probation before judgment". Michie. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- ^Lang, Robert (7 January 2010). "In Spite Of Resignation, Dixon Can Run Again". WBAL radio news. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- ^15min (2010-01-07). "Dixon Announces Resignation As Mayor Of Baltimore". WBAL. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- ^"Topic Galleries". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2014-04-18.
- ^"The Frederick News-Post". Archived from the original on 2012-11-15.
- ^Fermier, Steve. "WBAL Radio 1090 AM | Baltimore News | Baltimore Weather | Baltimore Traffic". http://www.wbal.com/article/96180/21/Former-Mayors-Probation-Could-End-By-The-New-Year.
The Sheila Dixon story: It wasn’t just about the gift cards
With Sheila Dixon considered a front-runner in the 2020 primary race for Baltimore mayor, some of you may be nostalgic for a time when she was mayor a decade ago.
You might look wistfully back at a time when the annual homicide count was trending down and, at one point, dipped to 238.
You might even yearn for the good old days of “simple” corruption in City Hall. Not real corruption, like Catherine Pugh with her elaborate children’s-book-selling scheme.
You’re pretty sure Dixon was only accused of stealing a few gift cards meant for the poor.
And you may believe that she has atoned for her small sins and, otherwise, was effective as Baltimore’s highest elected official.
But before you cast your vote for mayor, please take this reality check.
The facts are very clear: It wasn’t just about the gift cards.
Peddling her Power
Dixon’s ethical, moral and legal transgressions weren’t just a onetime lapse in judgment. They lasted a decade – through her years as City Council president and mayor – from 2000 to 2010, when she was convicted of embezzlement and resigned.
That’s a long lapse. Even longer than Spiro Agnew’s seven-year kickback scheme from his days as Baltimore County Executive and Maryland Governor until he resigned as vice president of the United States in 1973.
Dixon used her office to enrich her campaign manager and her sister Janice. More importantly, she peddled the power of her office to enrich herself – lavishly. Then she lied to try to cover it up.
Sheila Dixon speaks to the media after announcing her resignation in February 2010. To her right is then-3rd District Councilman Robert Curran. (Fern Shen)
Utech and Lipscomb
My reporter colleagues at the Baltimore Sun, notably Doug Donovan, documented them in detail.
Dixon violated competitive bidding laws so that her one-time campaign manager could get hundreds of thousands of dollars for no-bid computer work, most of it paid over many years without any written contract.
In another ethical lapse, as City Council president, she employed sister Janice in her office (until she was outed) and later violated ethics laws again by voting for a subcontract to give fiber optic work to a company that employed Janice.
That company, Utech, was run by a woman who used fake invoices to get paid, had no office and was eventually convicted of filing false income tax returns.
The secret burnt umber mink jacket that figured in Dixon’s criminal case, as it looked afterwards on EBay. (cbslocal.com)
She not only helped her sister, she helped herself.
Dixon accepted a $2,000 gift certificate at a furrier from developer Ron Lipscomb, owner of Doracon Contracting, which got multi-million-dollar tax breaks from the city.
The gift certificate from the furrier was supposed to be a secret.
The purchaser, Doracon’s vice president, asked the store manager not to write the name of the recipient on the certificate or put his own name in the store’s records.
Her relationship with developer Lipscomb was personal as well as financial. Lipscomb, who dated Dixon, treated her to extravagant shopping trips to New York City, Chicago, Boston and Vail.
At one Board of Estimates meeting in 2004, she voted in favor of a $13.6 million tax break for a Harbor East project that Lipscomb and his partners were building.
To celebrate, Dixon then left City Hall to catch a 3 p.m. train to Manhattan to be with Lipscomb.
There they dined near Central Park and stayed at the Trump International Hotel for $1,000 a night. His company paid the bills.
Sheila Dixon and her supporters conduct a food giveaway at 25th and St. Paul streets to help people during the Covid-19 crisis. (@posttypography)
Target and Best Buy
There were, indeed, gift cards – dozens of them – from Best Buy and other stores. Doracon bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of cards and gave them to Dixon.
So did another developer, Patrick Turner, who hoped to build ambitious projects in Locust Point and Westport.
Turner would testify that he really believed the cards were intended for poor families. It was his testimony that helped prosecutors at the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor win the jury conviction for embezzlement.
Prosecutors traced the cards to Dixon because she forgot to cover her tracks: while spending the cards, she gave out her Best Buy rewards number to a cashier.
She also left a trail at Target, where she augmented the gift cards with her personal credit card. Once investigators figured that out, it was relatively easy to connect the dots.
Minks and Game Controllers
In June 2008, investigators for the state prosecutor’s office knocked on Dixon’s door with a search-and-seizure warrant and collected the following evidence:
• a burnt umber mink jacket and a coat of Persian lamb and mink, bought with the gift certificate at the furrier,
• an Italian leather coat, Giorgio Armani shoes and Jimmy Choo sandals bought on shopping trips with Lipscomb,
• an Xbox, a PlayStation controller and Nintendo games.
“I AM SORRY FOR THE MISTAKES I MADE”
Following her resignation in 2010, Dixon has been asked to comment on her conviction and resignation. She has apologized for what she calls “mistakes,” doing so again when she announced her 2020 mayoral bid, saying:
“I am sorry for the mistakes I made that brought my term to an end” and vowed to “work three times as hard” because of them.
Asked what those “mistakes” were – how she would characterize what she did wrong – her answer was brief: “Failing to disclose a personal relationship.”
Lying on Ethics Forms
As for the perjury case that few Baltimoreans now can remember, it involved lying on her ethics forms.
Like all elected officials, Dixon filed financial disclosure forms, requiring her to report gifts from anyone doing business with City Hall. The law is clear:
“A public servant may not knowingly accept any gift, directly, from any person that the public servant knows or has reason to know: does or seeks to do business of any kind, regardless of amount: with the public servant’s agency; or if the public servant is a member or employee of the City Council. . .”
The forms required her to report any gift (including payment of travel) of more than $50 or a series of gifts worth more than $150 from anyone doing business with the city.
After collecting all that booty – thousands of dollars worth of meals, hotel stays, shoes, furs, etc. – the gifts Dixon reported were complimentary tickets to a political fundraiser and a pass for two at the Senator Theatre.
“Give me my coat!”
At her first trial for theft, while she was awaiting the verdict, Dixon had something else on her mind. She walked up to the chief prosecutor, Robert Rohrbaugh, and handed him a handwritten note on legal paper that she crafted to read like a legal motion.
“Motion to Give me my Coat Back,” the note began. “SAD [Sheila Ann Dixon], by her counsel, moves the court to order the SKUNKS [prosecutor Rohrbaugh and company] to give back the coat that lawfully belongs to her, especially since another winter is coming.”
She was about to be the first Baltimore mayor to be convicted of a crime, but first she wanted her fur coat back.
Before her second trial on perjury, she and her lawyer, Arnold M. Weiner, decided to negotiate a plea deal. If prosecutors let her keep her $83,000 a year pension, she would resign.
If Dixon didn’t get her pension, Weiner threatened, she would stay in office while appealing the embezzlement conviction. This meant that she would have remained in City Hall, probably for a year or more, awaiting appeal.
If Dixon didn’t get her pension, she threatened to stay in office, probably for a year or more, awaiting appeal.
In the end, she got the plea deal. She kept her pension and agreed to pay $45,000 to charity and work 500 hours of community service while she was on probation.
Otherwise, Baltimore would have been stuck with a convicted thief running City Hall.
Joan Jacobson is the co-author of “Eyes of Justice – a Career Crime Fighter Battles Corruption. . . and Blindness” with James Cabezas, retired chief investigator for the Maryland State Prosecutor. Their book is the first history of Maryland political corruption in more than 40 years. Jacobson was a longtime reporter for the Evening Sun and Baltimore Sun.
Sheila Ann Dixon (born December 27, 1953) is an American politician who served as the forty-eighth mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. When the former mayor, Martin O'Malley, was sworn in as governor on January 17, 2007, Dixon, the president of the Baltimore City Council, served out the remaining year of his term. In November 2007, she was elected mayor. She was the first African-American woman to serve as president of the City Council, Baltimore's first female mayor, and Baltimore's third black mayor.
On January 9, 2009, Dixon was indicted on twelve felony and misdemeanor counts, including perjury, theft, and misconduct. The charges stem partly from incidents in which she allegedly misappropriated gift cards intended for the poor. On December 1, 2009, the jury returned a "guilty" verdict on one misdemeanor count of fraudulent misappropriation and Dixon received probation provided she resign as mayor as part of a plea agreement, effective February 4, 2010. She was succeeded by the City Council president, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, on February 4, 2010.
By December 2012, Dixon had completed all of the terms of her probation. The case closed by the end of 2012.
In 2016, she unsuccessfully sought election as Mayor of Baltimore; she was defeated in the Democratic primary by State Senator Catherine Pugh. She then unsuccessfully challenged Pugh as a write-in candidate in the general election. In the 2020 Baltimore mayoral election, she again sought the Democratic nomination, but narrowly lost in the June 2 primary to Brandon Scott.
Early life and education
Dixon was born and was raised in the Ashburton neighborhood of West Baltimore. Her father, Phillip Dixon, Sr., was a car salesman, and her mother, Winona Dixon, was a community activist.
Dixon attended the Baltimore City public schools graduated from Northwestern High School. She earned a bachelor's degree from Towson University and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Education and government
After graduating from college, Dixon worked as an elementary school teacher and adult education instructor with the Head Start program. She then worked for 17 years as an international trade specialist with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.
In 1986, Dixon was elected to the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee representing the 40th Legislative District. In 1987, she won a seat on the Baltimore City Council representing the 4th Council District, where she served twelve years.
In 1991, Dixon waved her shoe at white colleagues on the Baltimore City Council and yelled, "You've been running things for the last 20 years. Now the shoe is on the other foot." This incident led many people, including some of her supporters, to view her as a divisive person.
Dixon explained her earlier comment by stating that she had "matured" since making the shoe comment and that she now attempts "to communicate better with individuals."
In 1999, Dixon was elected president of the Baltimore City Council, the first African-American woman elected to this position. In 2003, she won her re-election race for president of the Baltimore City Council, defeating her nearest competitor (Catherine Pugh) by 21,000 votes.
Mayor of Baltimore
As City Council President, Dixon was ex officio mayor pro tempore, and ascended as mayor when Martin O'Malley resigned after being elected Governor of Maryland in November 2006.
During her tenure, Baltimore's homicide rate dropped for the first time in the 30 years. In 2007 she introduced a crime plan that focused on more community policing and using police resources to target the most violent offenders. To combat crime, Dixon appointed Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who supported her neighborhood crime strategy. In February 2008, the Baltimore City Police reported a sharp decline in homicides in Baltimore. According to police there were 14 murders in the city for the month of January, the lowest monthly total in 30 years. As of April 2008, there had been a 40% reduction in murders in the city after experiencing a record high in 2007 during Dixon's first year in office. By April 15, 2008, the number of murders in the city had grown to 54, the lowest total to this time of the year in recent memory, putting the city on pace for 189 murders in 2008. By the end of 2008, the murder count was 234—a 17% reduction over the previous year.
While her critics complained that crime had risen in Baltimore during her tenure and that she did not pay enough attention to the issue, her record shows that she had increased police patrols, cracked down on the possession of illegal guns, and actively secured federal and state funds for crime-fighting programs.
Several city developments were completed during Dixon's tenure such as Baltimore's Inner Harbor East community, the Legg Mason Tower, and the Baltimore Hilton Hotel.
As mayor, Dixon was a member of the former Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.
2007 mayoral election
Dixon ran for a full term as mayor in the 2007 election and won the Democratic Party primary in September. Dixon maintained a strong fundraising advantage throughout the campaign. Scores of public officials, unions and newspapers endorsed the Mayor's campaign. This includes The Baltimore Sun, The Baltimore Afro-American, the AFL-CIO, former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Minority Contractors Association, SEIU, SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Gov. O'Malley, ComptrollerPeter Franchot, Unite Here, United Auto Workers, and others.
A major issue during the primary mayoral campaign was crime. By mid-2007, homicides in Baltimore were on pace to surpass 300 for the year, the most since the early years of the O'Malley administration. On June 19, Dixon presented her crime plan to 500 Baltimore police officers, but Dixon was attacked by Mitchell and Carter for not doing enough. Dixon's crime plan departed from previous Mayor Martin O'Malley's as it stressed community policing and focusing on apprehending the most violent offenders as opposed to zero tolerance. As of June 19, there were 146 homicides and 340 non-lethal shootings in the city.
By the end of July 2007, Dixon's campaign had been endorsed by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council of the Maryland AFL-CIO collectively as well as several individual union endorsements. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot was the only statewide elected official to endorse Dixon until an August 13 rally where Governor Martin O'Malley gave his endorsement. Former Congressman Kweisi Mfume also endorsed Dixon at the same event in front of Baltimore's City Hall. State Delegates Tom Hucker (Montgomery County), Maggie McIntosh, Curt Anderson, Cheryl Glenn, Melvin L. Stukes, Talmadge Branch, Senators Nathaniel J. McFadden and Catherine Pugh and Baltimore City Council members Robert Curran, Bernard "Jack" Young, Ed Reisinger, Stephanie Rawlings Blake and Agnes Welch have endorsed Dixon and were at the rally as well.
Dixon won the 2007 Baltimore Democratic Mayoral Primary over her closest opponent, Keiffer Mitchell Jr., with 63 percent of the total votes, virtually assuring her of a full term in this overwhelmingly Democratic city. She then defeated Republican Elbert Henderson in the general election in November, becoming the first woman elected in her own right as mayor.
The Democratic primary results were:
|Keiffer Mitchell Jr.||20,376||23.7%|
|Jill P. Carter||2,372||2.8%|
|A. Robert Kaufman||885||1.0%|
In her first inaugural address as Mayor, Dixon alluded to what she considers people's wrong impression of her and stated, "I want you to know that I am much more than a newspaper headline or a sound bite on the evening news."
In 2008, investigators from the Office of the State Prosecutor executed a search warrant at Dixon's residence in southwest Baltimore. Around the same time, several subpoenas were issued to aides. The investigation looked at gifts, including several fur coats, as well as Dixon's spending habits. Two of Dixon's associates—campaign chair Dale Clark and Mildred Boyer, a businesswoman who had hired Dixon's sister—pleaded guilty in 2008 to tax charges and cooperated with prosecutors during the Dixon investigation. The affidavit filed to support a search warrant on the company Doracon was published by The Baltimore Sun in June 2008; the affidavit stated that Dixon was being investigated regarding bribery.
On January 9, 2009, Dixon was indicted by a Baltimore grand jury on twelve counts: four counts of perjury, two counts of misconduct, three counts of theft, and three counts of fraudulent misappropriations.
Fraud trial and guilty verdict
Main article: Sheila Dixon trial
In November 2009, Dixon was tried for three counts of felony theft, three counts of misdemeanor embezzlement/misappropriation, and a single count of misconduct of office. The trial began on November 10, 2009, with Arnold M. Weiner serving as lead counsel. During the trial, two counts (one theft charge and one embezzlement/misappropriation charge) were dropped when prosecutors declined to call a key witness. On December 1, 2009, after seven days of deliberations, the jury returned verdicts on four of the five remaining counts. Dixon was found not guilty of the two felony theft charges, and one count of misconduct of office. She was found guilty on one misdemeanor embezzlement charge relating to her use of over $600 worth of retail store gift cards that were intended to be distributed to needy families. The jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision regarding the final charge of misdemeanor embezzlement.
On January 6, 2010, as part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Dixon announced that she was resigning as mayor, effective February 4, 2010. Under the terms of the agreement Dixon will get probation before judgment (PBJ) in the recent case where she had been found guilty, as well as in a perjury trial that had been scheduled for March 2010. Under the Criminal Procedure Article, sec. 6–220 of the Annotated Code of Maryland, a PBJ is not a conviction, thereby enabling her to keep her $83,000 pension. Also, under Maryland law, a PBJ may be expunged from one's record once the probationary period is over. Dixon was sentenced to four years of probation under the terms of the agreement. She also will be required to donate $45,000 to the Bea Gaddy Foundation and to serve 500 hours of community service at Our Daily Bread. In addition, she has agreed to sell gifts she received from developers, including a fur coat and electronics that she purchased with gift cards. She agreed to not seek office anywhere in the state of Maryland, including Baltimore during the term of her probation and she will not solicit or accept taxpayer money to pay her defense fees.
2016 Mayoral election
Main article: 2016 Baltimore mayoral election
In 2015, Dixon made a second attempt at becoming mayor of Baltimore. She was the front-runner in the Democratic primary until early 2016, when Congressman Elijah Cummings endorsed her leading opponent, Catherine Pugh in April 2016. Pugh won the Democratic primary with 37% of the vote to Dixon's 35%.
2020 Mayoral election
Main article: 2020 Baltimore mayoral election
On December 14, 2019, Dixon announced she was running for mayor of Baltimore in the 2020 election. After the first campaign finance reporting date in mid January of 2020, Dixon's campaign reported that it had raised roughly $100,000. Incumbent Mayor Jack Young, also running for mayor, had $960,000 cash on hand during the same reporting period. In the June 2, 2020, Democratic primary, she narrowly lost to Brandon Scott.
Twice divorced, Dixon raised her two children, Jasmine and Joshua, as a single mom. She is the aunt of professional basketball player Juan Dixon, who led the University of Maryland to the 2002 NCAA championship, and Jermaine Dixon, who played guard for the University of Pittsburgh Men's Basketball Team.
An active member of Bethel A.M.E. Church and former church trustee, Dixon continues to serve as a member of the Stewardess Board. She serves on other boards, including the Institute of Human Virology, the Transplant Resource Center, the Urban Health Initiative, the Baltimore Public Markets Corporation, the Living Classrooms Foundation, and the Walters Art Museum.
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Sheila Dixon was elected as the first female and third African-American mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, in January 2007, after her predecessor, Martin O'Malley, was sworn into office as Maryland's governor.
Dixon was born 1953 in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from Baltimore's educationalist training college, Towson, and earned her master's degree from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to serving as mayor, Dixon taught as an elementary and adult educator, and worked in Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development on international trade issues.
Dixon was elected to Baltimore's city council in 1987, having secured election to the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee a year earlier. She became the city council president in 1999, the first African American elected to this position. In January 2007, when Martin O'Malley was sworn into office as Maryland's governor, Dixon finished O'Malley's final year as mayor. In November 2007, she was elected mayor of Baltimore.
In 2010, she resigned from office as a part of a plea agreement; in 2009, a jury found her guilty of a misdemeanor, fraudulent misappropriation. She paid a $45,000 fine and did 500 hours of community service.
In July 2015, Dixon announced her candidacy for the 2016 election for the mayor of Baltimore, but was defeated in the primary.
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Sonechka proudly paced along the only pavement paved with a tree, trying to lift the toes of her new shoes higher. And she did it perfectly - each step emphasized the elegant.
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