“Healthy Holly” and Its Not-So-Healthy Scandal

Baltimore deserves a mayor that can move our great city forward.
— Former Mayor Catherine Pugh

by sophie l. ‘21

“Baltimore deserves a mayor that can move our great city forward.” This statement, issued by former Mayor Catherine Pugh, marked her resignation on Thursday, May 2nd. Unfortunately, that mayor was not her. Pugh resigned amidst a political scandal involving her self-published children's series, Healthy Holly.The scandal began when a Baltimore Sun article published on March 13th exposed Pugh, along with 8 other board members, for profiting off of contracts with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). Mayor Pugh, who has been on the board of UMMS since 2001, used her position to obtain a  $500,000 book deal with the university. The plan recorded on the financial disclosures said that UMMS would buy 20,000 copies of Healthy Holly for $5 each and distribute them to city schools in order to promote healthy lifestyles to children and families. On her financial disclosures, Pugh claimed to have made less than $100,000 personal profit off the deal. Following the publication of the Baltimore Sun article, Pugh took a temporary leave of absence, informing the public that she had pneumonia. During her leave, the FBI investigated Pugh and her book deal, searching both her home and office. Pugh also faced criticism from the public. Both of these factors, and many more, led to her resignation.  

Bryn Mawr was among the schools to receive a shipment of Healthy Holly books. Other than receiving these books and hosting Pugh to give an assembly last year, Bryn Mawr had no connection to the former mayor or this scandal. It is Baltimore city that took Mayor Pugh’s scandal the hardest. In a city known for its homicide rate and corruption, having yet another  mayor in the past decade involved in a political scandal played right into the city’s already disastrous reputation. To add to the irony, one of the main reasons Pugh was elected back in 2016 was that her opponent was Sheila Dixon, the former mayor involved in an embezzlement scandal in 2010. The people in the city did not want Dixon in office, but as it turns out, not much was different with Pugh’s term. To quote the Washington Post’s Theresa Vargas, “Baltimore deserves better than a one star mayor” and hopefully people will keep this in mind when the next election season .