Mayoral hopeful Sheila Dixon appeared on a Fox45 public safety town hall in South Baltimore with ally Councilman Eric Costello and local neighborhood leaders, giving residents a glimpse into the messaging her campaign will likely employ as the May 14 Democratic primary approaches.

The panelists argued that, while violent crime is down under Mayor Brandon Scott, Baltimoreans do not feel safe.

“Legislators have to realize that the citizens are crying out for results,” Dixon said, saying the state agencies who work with juvenile offenders must also work with their families, rather than focusing solely on incarceration.

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Costello used the town hall to continue the steady beat of criticism of the Scott administration, which has ramped up since he endorsed Dixon last month, becoming the first City Council official to do so.

“Homicides being down, that’s the most important statistic we can have for talking about loss of human life,” Costello said. “But there are a number of other crimes that are tracked by BPD, many of which are not down.” He cited car thefts, which have also plagued other regions throughout the state.

He noted the city went more than two months without having club devices — which can prevent car theft — available to residents.

“That device is $25, and you can purchase them on Amazon,” he said. “There’s absolutely no scenario in which that is acceptable.”

Dixon is facing off against Scott, onetime independent candidate Bob Wallace and a handful of others for the Democratic nomination.

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Dixon, who lost her voice but answered questions from residents nonetheless, is one of a few Baltimore Democrats who engages at length with WBFF Fox45, a station owned and operated by the conservative media giant Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is based in Cockeysville. The company’s leaders are active in local politics. A political action committee with ties to Sinclair chairman David Smith helped usher in a successful term limits ballot measure last year and is currently backing a measure that would reduce the size of City Council.

The station generally airs coverage that is critical of city leaders, particularly Scott. Dixon has made steady appearances on Fox45 since she started teasing her mayoral campaign on the station over the summer.

The former mayor is not the only politician in town to give extended interviews to Fox45 — Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates also hosts town halls with the station. And Dixon continues to grant interviews and engage with other television stations, as well as radio and print and digital media.

In a survey conducted in mid-September by the Goucher College Poll in partnership with The Baltimore Banner, 65% of city voters said they trust that information from Baltimore-based media is fair and accurate “some” or “a lot” of the time. Just over half of those surveyed said that local news media will help determine their vote choices “somewhat” or “a great deal.”

Dixon had an advantage over Scott among Democratic poll respondents. Respondents who said they had watched Fox45 news within the previous month were more likely to prefer Dixon over Scott compared to respondents who said they had watched WBAL news within the previous month.

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The survey of 711 registered Baltimore voters by cellphone and landline has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Emily Sullivan covers Baltimore City Hall. She joined the Banner after three years at WYPR, where she won multiple awards for her radio stories on city politics and culture. She previously reported for NPR’s national airwaves, focusing on business news and breaking news.

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