Sheila Dixon called ‘mutt’ by fire union leader

Sheila Dixon, a candidate for mayor of Baltimore, is addressing an email containing language she considers derogatory and directed at her. The email in question was written by Joshua Fannon, the leader of the city’s fire officers union, in which Dixon, a former mayor of Baltimore, is referred to as “a mutt of a past mayor.”

The matter came to light as Baltimore firefighters gathered on Monday to endorse the incumbent Mayor Brandon Scott. During the event, union leaders did not shy away from criticizing Dixon, Scott’s rival in the mayoral race.

“One candidate on the ballot was mayor previously for almost a full term before resigning due to a criminal conviction for perjury and embezzlement,” said Fannon, president of Local 964, the city’s fire officers union.

Prior to the Monday announcement, Fannon had sent an email on Friday to John Sibiga, the president of the Baltimore County Firefighters Union, which Sibiga then shared with his members. The email, obtained by Fox45 News, invited members of the Baltimore County Firefighters Union to the Monday event endorsing Scott. In the email, Fannon referred to Dixon as “a mutt of a past mayor.”

Dixon’s reaction to being called a “mutt” triggered a response from some county fire members, including a veteran firefighter who wished to remain anonymous. “As a black woman, I was floored that my (Baltimore County) local union sent out something so offensive,” the firefighter told Fox45 News. “As a woman, first of all, a ‘mutt’ is an undesirable dog… it’s offensive in general to call a black woman an undesirable (word) in a sense.”

When contacted by Fox45 News, Sibiga stated that he only shared the email with his members and did not write it. Fannon, on the other hand, claimed that he meant no harm and that the word “mutt” is commonly used in the fire service. “Which is a mutt. Someone or thing that will abuse and mistreat a firefighter,” Fannon explained. “And that would be the only consideration that I would have in using (that word) in any day speech, in particular in that email.”

Dixon, however, took issue with the term being used to describe her. “Again, to me, it’s more derogatory, but I just believe in taking the high road. Clearly, I would have used a different term. I would’ve focused on your candidate that you support and why are you supporting… and left it at that,” she said.

When asked if he would use the word “mutt” again, knowing that it can have different meanings for firefighters and others, Fannon responded, “Yes, it’s part of the fire services–found and defined by the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society.”