It was a “challenging year,” but Baltimore has shown “resilience,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in the State of the City address on Monday.
After reflecting on last year’s unrest, Rawlings-Blake spent a long chunk of the speech on ending violence, and the state of the police department. She pointed to her move to appoint Kevin Davis as police commissioner (at the expense of Anthony Batts), and efforts like the expansion of Operation Ceasefire and a new partnership with Johns Hopkins to use data and research in seeking to reduce crime. The remarks came a day after Davis said that crime has “stabilized” after record violence in 2015.
As far as effort to reform the police department, she pointed to Davis’ leadership style, efforts to introduce body cameras and her decision to call in the DOJ to open a civil rights investigation.
“We know reforms are not going to be easy. We know it is not going to be cheap. But I can promise you this: It will get done,” she said.
Since she decided not to seek reelection in this year’s mayor’s race, Rawlings-Blake also sought to do some legacy building in her final State of the City address. She pointed to the Vacants to Value program, reductions in the infant mortality rate and the creation of a 10-year financial plan.
She said the city has a $65 million budget gap between revenues and expenditures next year, but that it would be three times worse without her work.
“I am not persuaded by what is politically popular, but what is best for the citizens of Baltimore,” she said.
And she pointed to “palpable electricity” of new development, millennials moving in and festivals like Light City.
“From musicians to artists to foodies, we have made Baltimore a hip place to be. People want a real city, not a generic landscape,” she said.
She ended with a bit of finality, thanking family members, voters and city employees for helping her to serve the city for 21 years.
“This has been the greatest honor of my life,” she said.
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