Convicted of embezzlement, former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is running again

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BALTIMORE (AP) — More than a decade after being convicted of embezzling donated gift cards, a former Baltimore mayor has announced she’s again running for office.

Sheila Dixon, who resigned as part of a 2010 plea agreement in the corruption case, penned an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun on Thursday apologizing for her past digressions and announcing her candidacy in the city’s 2024 mayoral race. This marks her third bid for mayor following two unsuccessful attempts since her own tenure ended in scandal.

Dixon will go up against current Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott in the city’s Democratic primary. Scott is running for a second term.

In December 2009, a jury found Dixon guilty of embezzlement for misusing gift cards that had been donated to City Hall for charity. Instead of using them to serve the poor, Dixon spent about $500 at Target and Best Buy to purchase things for her family and staff.

Additional perjury charges against her were later dropped. Dixon served four years probation and completed other requirements. She was also barred from seeking political office for two years.

In her letter published Thursday in The Sun, Dixon offered a fresh apology while stressing that her conviction was a misdemeanor offense.

“I have truly made mistakes in my personal life, one of which resulted in a misdemeanor charge that forced my resignation from the job I loved the most,” she wrote. “I let matters of the heart lead me astray once before, and for that, and the pain that it caused to my beloved Baltimore, I am truly sorry. I hope the people realize that my love for the future of Baltimore outweighs the mistakes of my past.”

Baltimore’s first female mayor, Dixon has touted her efforts to reduce violent crime, pave roads and clean up neglected neighborhoods. The city’s homicide rate dropped during her tenure while arrests also declined.

A Baltimore native, Dixon served for years on the City Council before becoming mayor.

During a news conference late Thursday morning, she told Baltimore voters they can trust her because she has learned from her past mistakes and she knows how to make city government work for the city’s most vulnerable residents. Dixon said she still gets calls regularly from people who need help. She talked about her recent efforts to get services for a mother of three whose family was living out of her car.

Dressed in a light pink suit, Dixon appeared before a crowd of supporters in a west Baltimore park that was recently transformed from a vacant lot where people would illegally dump trash. She said her campaign will focus on public safety, city schools and government accountability.

“I’m the most transparent person, the most trustworthy person because when you make mistakes … you do everything to improve upon yourself, and that’s a daily job that you have to do,” she said.