Dixon becomes mayor

Former council president is expected to seek full term

City Transition

January 18, 2007|By Laura Smitherman | Laura Smitherman,SUN REPORTER

As Martin O'Malley officially became governor yesterday amid much pomp and circumstance, another power shift took place with little fanfare: Sheila Dixon became mayor of Baltimore.

When O'Malley took the oath of office at the State House, resigning his post in Baltimore, Dixon ascended from City Council president to the mayor's office to serve out the rest of his term, which lasts through December. As a veteran of city politics, Dixon, 53, is expected to use her temporary post as a springboard to campaign this year to a full, four-year term.

Dixon's swearing-in ceremony will be held today at noon at the War Memorial Building near City Hall. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend.

At O'Malley's inauguration, Dixon sat a few rows behind O'Malley along with politicians from all levels of government, including District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer and state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

Dixon and O'Malley had been close allies, having worked together for more than a decade. The two campaigned as "partners in progress" a few years ago, and the Democratic-controlled City Council led by Dixon has mostly approved O'Malley's initiatives.

"The state of Maryland is lucky to have O'Malley as our governor; he exemplified the best in leadership as mayor," said Salima S. Marriott, who has been appointed by Dixon as deputy mayor for community and human development. Marriott had been a state delegate and lost a bid for the state Senate last year.

"Dixon was O'Malley's partner in progress, and she will continue in that vision," Marriott said.

As mayor, Dixon has promised to lead efforts to reduce crime, improve trash pickup and revitalize neighborhoods beyond the Inner Harbor. As a councilwoman, Dixon represented West Baltimore for three terms starting in 1987 and has served two terms as council president, winning citywide elections in 1999 and 2004. She is expected to face a crowded field in the Democratic primary in September.

Apart from the festivities for O'Malley, Dixon said she planned to spend yesterday taking care of last-minute details before it's her turn to take an oath. "I'm hoping to find some time when I can reflect and prepare," she said before her handler whisked her off to the next event.

Time was likely tight, as O'Malley's extravaganza started at the formal ceremonies at the State House and didn't end until an inaugural ball at the Baltimore Convention Center last night.

laura.smitherman@baltsun.com

Sun reporter John Fritze contributed to this article.

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