Next year will be the last in office for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who announced earlier today that she would not be seeking re-election.
Rawlings-Blake has been in the headlines in recent months following the death of Freddie Gray. Her handling of the riots that came in the aftermath of the 25-year-old's death garnered criticism, with many saying that her response to the unrest was delayed, but she says that her critics and challengers didn't influence her decision. At a press conference this morning, she said that she wanted to spend the final year of her term moving the city forward rather than prepping her re-election campaign.
"It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time—the remaining 15 months of my term—focused on the city's future and not my own," she said at the news conference. "I knew this would be a very hotly contested campaign, and I haven't lost a campaign since middle school. It's not that I didn't think I could win. I just had to ask myself the question: At what cost?"
Rawlings-Blake, who was elected as mayor in 2010 after the resignation of former Mayor Sheila Dixon, has spent the last 20 years in public office. Though she doesn't plan to seek another position following her mayoral tenure, she will retain her positions as both president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and as secretary for the Democratic National Convention.
During her time in office, Rawlings-Blake played a role in adding 12,000 jobs to the city of Baltimore and lowering the unemployment rate from 12.1 percent to 8.1 percent. She was also instrumental in funding school construction as well as a local recreation center.
"I appreciate that she made the decision for the citizens of the city," city councilman and possible 2016 mayoral candidate Carl Stokes told the Baltimore Sun. "It couldn't be an easy decision. It had to be a very difficult decision for her to make."