Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today announced she would not seek re-election for her job, instead focusing the next 15 months of her term on the city's recovery from the unrest in April and preparing for the trials of the officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
During a press conference announced early this morning, Rawlings-Blake said the thought of running a campaign instead of governing the city at such an important time informed her decision.
"Over the past few months, as I've been making plans for what I know is a vigorous campaign, I've realized that every moment that I spent planning for a campaign for reelection was time that I was taking away from my current responsiblities to the city—to the city that I love, to the city that I took an oath to serve," she said in a prepared statement.
Despite no longer being in the slog of campaign mode, she even got in a direct shot against her predecessor, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, a foe she will no longer have to face off against in the Democratic primary next year.
"When I came into office, the city was in turmoil for many reasons," she said. "We had a budget deficit of over $140 million, the pension system was spiraling out of control—people had lost hope and faith in city government."
Noting that she hasn't lost a campaign since middle school, Rawlings-Blake rattled off what she saw as the accomplishments on her record: ethics reforms, increasing the Inspector General's budget to reduce waste and fraud, pension reform, defecit reduction by more than half, a 10-year financial plan, increasing the bond rating, property tax cuts, unemployment cut by a third, jobs from Amazon and the casino, Vacants to Value, 21st century school construction, new rec centers, reduced teen pregancy by a third, cut infant mortality by half.
On the subject of police reform, she said she had done more than any other mayor, citing her "collaboration with Department of Justice" and a reduction in lawsuits, discourtesy complaints, and misconduct complaints.
The veracity of that list of achievements aside, she tellingly said part of her next 15 months would be spent, well, working to continue to to reform the Baltimore Police Department.
Also telling: After talking about how she would enjoy spending time with her husband and daughter, Rawlings-Blake did not rule out the possibility of seeking another office.
P. Kenneth Burns from WYPR said, "So you're not seeking any office after today."
She responded, "No, I did not say that."
Burns: "No, I'm asking."
"I'm focused right now on governing rather than campaigning for mayor at this very critical time in our city's history."
When the subject of polls came up, she said it was understandable she took a dip with the violence that happened in April.
"Polls didn't matter to me. I have a track record," she said. "And I know that I have more money in the bank than anybody that's running against me."
After this brief moment of defiant moxie, she went back on script.
"That wasn't a consideration," she said.