Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s decision not to seek re-election was confirmed as a big news event began as soon as her press conference was over, when politicians from all corners started issuing reaction.
While Rawlings-Blake didn’t rule out a future run for office, the decision represents a political about-face. As she said from the podium on Friday morning, she hasn’t lost a race since Anthony Watson beat her from class president in middle school. Now 45, she entered city politics at 25, and eventually won the top job on the City Council before running the entire city. More recently, she was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and, before April, was mentioned as a candidate for U.S. Senate after Barbara Mikulski announced her retirement.
But on Friday, she decided to step back from that 20-year career.
Many politicians praised Rawlings-Blake’s decision to focus on the city for the remainder of her term rather than spending time campaigning.
“So impressed by @ decision and statements,” tweeted Del. Brooke Lierman. “Difficult choice shows her dedication to Bmore. Look fwd to continuing to work tgether.”
“The last few months have been terribly painful for all of us, and I know first hand how much the Mayor has dedicated – personally and professionally – towards finding a path forward for our City,” State Sen. Bill Ferguson said in a Facebook post. “Her decision not to run for reelection is based in this strong commitment to Baltimore, and I commend her deeply. I am positive that this decision did not come lightly, but it is evidence of her true passion for Baltimore.”
While Rawlings-Blake focused on her desire to shepherd the city through challenging times, it remains clear that she’s faced criticism since the riots, when the narrative picked up steam that she wasn’t visible enough. The statements reflected the contentious position she’s held since the riots that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral, and violent summer.
Councilman Brandon Scott, who worked in Rawlings-Blake’s office before he was elected, thanked the mayor for her public service, and said she made progress “despite the many challenges” during her tenure.
“Although we often disagree I cannot argue with some of the historic progress,” he said. “This includes the lowest year for violent crime on record in 2011, working to bring a billion dollars in school construction money to our schools and righting the city’s fiscal future. No one is perfect and I wish Mayor Rawlings-Blake and her family all the best.”
The city’s police union, who repeatedly clashed with Rawlings-Blake following the riots, just barely maintained civility.
“Rank and file and City leadership must always work as a team so that Baltimore is a place people want to work, live and visit,” FOP3 President Lt. Gene Ryan said. “We look forward to leadership that makes partnering with public safety a priority.”
Also praising the decision were activists who call for justice in Freddie Gray’s case, and continue to demonstrate against police brutality.
— T'Challa ☀️Ra 💫 (@BmoreDoc) September 11, 2015
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