Sheila Dixon

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.

Sheila Dixon
Sheliadixon07 (1).jpg
48th Mayor of Baltimore
In office
January 17, 2007 – February 4, 2010
Preceded byMartin O'Malley
Succeeded byStephanie Rawlings-Blake
President of the Baltimore City Council
In office
December 1999 – January 2007
Preceded byLawrence Bell[1]
Succeeded byStephanie Rawlings-Blake
Member of the Baltimore City Council
from the 4th District
In office
December 1987 – December 1999
Preceded byKweisi Mfume
Michael Mitchell[2]
Succeeded byCatherine Pugh[2]
Personal details
Sheila Ann Dixon

(1953-12-27) December 27, 1953 (age 67)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
RelativesJuan Dixon (nephew)
EducationTowson University (BA)
Johns Hopkins University (MA)

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]

Early life and educationEdit

Dixon was born and was raised in the Ashburton neighborhood of West Baltimore.[6] 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.[6] She earned a bachelor's degree from Towson University and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.[6]


Education and governmentEdit

After graduating from college, Dixon worked as an elementary school teacher and adult education instructor with the Head Start program.[7] She then worked for 17 years as an international trade specialist with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.[8]

In 1986, Dixon was elected to the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee representing the 40th Legislative District.[9] In 1987, she won a seat on the Baltimore City Council representing the 4th Council District, where she served twelve years.[9]

Shoe commentEdit

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."[10] This incident led many people, including some of her supporters, to view her as a divisive person.[11]

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."[12]

City Council presidencyEdit

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.[13]

Mayor of BaltimoreEdit

Mayor Sheila Dixon addressing Baltimore's Annapolis delegation on two Baltimore City gun related bills.

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.[14]

During her tenure, Baltimore's homicide rate dropped for the first time in the 30 years.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] By April 15, 2008, the number of murders in the city had grown to 54,[18] 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.[19]

Dixon (front, third from left) cuts the parade ribbon at the 2007 Baltimore Greek Independence Day Parade with Congressman John Sarbanes.

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,[20] cracked down on the possession of illegal guns,[21] and actively secured federal and state funds for crime-fighting programs.[20]

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.[22]

2007 mayoral electionEdit

Dixon ran for a full term as mayor in the 2007 election and won the Democratic Party primary in September.[23] 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, Comptroller Peter 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,[24] but Dixon was attacked by Mitchell and Carter for not doing enough.[25] 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.[24]

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.[26] 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:[27]

Candidate Votes %
Sheila Dixon 54,381 63.1%
Keiffer Mitchell Jr. 20,376 23.7%
Andrey Bundley 6,543 7.6%
Jill P. Carter 2,372 2.8%
A. Robert Kaufman 885 1.0%
Mike Schaefer 762 0.9%
Frank Conaway 533 0.6%
Phillip Brown 273 0.3%

General election:[28]

Candidate Votes %
Sheila Dixon 36,726 87.7%
Elbert Henderson 5,139 12.3%

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."[29]


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.[30][31]

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.[3]

Fraud trial and guilty verdictEdit

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,[32] a PBJ is not a conviction, thereby enabling her to keep her $83,000 pension.[33] 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.[34]

2016 Mayoral electionEdit

In 2015, Dixon made a second attempt at becoming mayor of Baltimore. She was the front-runner in the Democratic primary until early 2016,[citation needed] when Congressman Elijah Cummings endorsed her leading opponent, Catherine Pugh in April 2016.[35] Pugh won the Democratic primary with 37% of the vote to Dixon's 35%.[36]

Democratic primary results[37]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Catherine Pugh 48,665 36.6
Democratic Sheila Dixon 46,219 34.7
Democratic Elizabeth Embry 15,562 11.7
Democratic David Warnock 10,835 8.1
Democratic Carl Stokes 4,620 3.5
Democratic DeRay Mckesson 3,445 2.6
Total votes 133,009 100.00

2020 Mayoral electionEdit

On December 14, 2019, Dixon announced she was running for mayor of Baltimore in the 2020 election.[38] 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.[39] In the June 2, 2020, Democratic primary, she narrowly lost to Brandon Scott.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

Twice divorced, Dixon raised her two children, Jasmine and Joshua, as a single mom.[40] 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.


  1. ^ "Baltimore City Council Presidents, 1923-present". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Baltimore City Council, 1923-present". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Mayor Sheila Dixon indicted". The Baltimore Sun. January 9, 2009. Archived from the original on January 18, 2009. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  4. ^ "Ex-Baltimore mayor resolves probation violations". WBAL-TV. December 7, 2012. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Opilo, Emily; Richman, Talia (June 9, 2020). "Baltimore's Democratic voters nominate Scott for mayor in narrow primary victory over former officeholder Dixon". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Sulliivan, Joanna (May 22, 2020). "2020 Baltimore mayoral profiles: Sheila Dixon". Baltimore Business Journal.
  7. ^ "In Baltimore Mayor's Race, Sheila Dixon Seeks Forgiveness and a Second Chance". Governing. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Broadwater, Luke (May 15, 2020). "Sheila Dixon knows the pandemic could hurt her run for Baltimore mayor. Can she still win?". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  9. ^ a b "General election". The Baltimore Sun. November 5, 1995. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  10. ^ Crawford, Jonathan N. (May 3, 2007). "Dixon Impresses Early On, But Questions Remain". The Washington Informer. Capital News Service. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009.
  11. ^ Anft, Michael (October 13, 1999). "Campaign Beat: GOP's Campbell Takes on Sheila Dixon and the Status Quo". City Paper. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009.
  12. ^ Yakaitis, Chris. "Maryland Votes 2006". Maryland Newsline. Capital News Service (Maryland).
  13. ^ "2003 Baltimore City Primary Election Results". Maryland State Board of Elections.
  14. ^ Luke Broadwater (November 9, 2006). "Dixon to become Baltimore's first female mayor". Washington Examiner. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  15. ^ "Mayor Reduces Murder Rate". WBAL-TV. Retrieved April 2, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Murders Drop In City In January". WBAL (AM). Retrieved February 4, 2008.[dead link]
  17. ^ "Baltimore's Murder Rate". WBAL-TV. Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  18. ^ Ditkoff, Anna (April 16, 2008). "Murder Ink". City Paper. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  19. ^ "Baltimore Homicides". Archived from the original on July 6, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2009.
  20. ^ a b Topic Galleries –[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Melody Simmons (May 3, 2007). "Baltimore Mayor Unveils Strategy to Attack Increase in Gun Crime". The New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2008.
  22. ^ "Mayors Against Illegal Guns: Coalition Members". Archived from the original on March 5, 2007.
  23. ^ Topic Galleries –[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ a b Linskey, Annie (June 20, 2007). "Dixon, police meet over crime plan". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  25. ^ "Dixon Tells Police Her Crime Plan; Critics Blast It". WBAL (AM). June 20, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  26. ^ "O'Malley, Mfume Endorse Dixon In Mayor's Race". WBAL-TV. August 13, 2007.
  27. ^ "Statement of Votes Cast; Baltimore City Primary Held September 11, 2007" (PDF). Baltimore City Board of Elections. September 22, 2007.
  28. ^ "Statement of Votes Cast; Baltimore City General Held November 6, 2007" (PDF). Baltimore City Board of Elections. November 18, 2007.
  29. ^ "Mayor Sheila Dixon's 2007 Inaugural Address" (PDF). January 18, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 10, 2008.
  30. ^ Fritze, John; Donovan, Doug (June 24, 2008). "Dixon gifts probed". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  31. ^ "Affidavit in support of the application for a search and seizure warrant" (PDF). The Baltimore Sun. June 24, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 14, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  32. ^ "probation before judgment". Mitchie. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  33. ^ Lang, Robert (January 7, 2010). "In Spite Of Resignation, Dixon Can Run Again". WBAL (AM). Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  34. ^ "Dixon Announces Resignation as Mayor of Baltimore". WBAL-TV. January 6, 2010. Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  35. ^ Wenger, Yvonne (April 12, 2016). "Elijah Cummings endorses Catherine Pugh for Baltimore mayor". The Baltimore Sun.
  36. ^ Broadwater, Luke; Wenger, Yvonne (April 27, 2016), "Catherine Pugh defeats Sheila Dixon in Democratic primary of Baltimore mayor's race", The Baltimore Sun
  37. ^ "Baltimore City- Mayor". Maryland Board of Elections. May 9, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  38. ^ Young, Blair (December 15, 2019). "Sheila Dixon enters Baltimore mayoral race". WBAL-TV. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  39. ^ Opilo, Emily; Richman, Talia. "Baltimore mayoral candidates raise $2.3M, signaling expensive and bitter fight ahead for crowded field". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  40. ^ Fritze, John (January 19, 2007). "Dixon takes oath". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 28, 2020.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Martin O'Malley
Mayor of Baltimore
Succeeded by
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake