By Jueseppi B.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland.
Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake (born March 17, 1970) is an American politician and the 49th and current Mayor of Baltimore. She is the second woman to hold the office. Rawlings-Blake, who served as mayor since the 2010 resignation of Sheila Dixon, was elected in 2011. A member of the Democratic Party, she was appointed Secretary of the Democratic National Committee in 2013.
|49th Mayor of Baltimore|
February 4, 2010
|Preceded by||Sheila Dixon|
|49th President of the Baltimore City Council|
January 17, 2007 – February 4, 2010
|Preceded by||Sheila Dixon|
|Succeeded by||Bernard C. Young|
|Member of the Baltimore City Council|
December 1995 – January 2007
|Born||March 17, 1970 (age 42)
|Spouse(s)||Kent V. Blake|
|Relations||Howard “Pete” Rawlings, former (D),
Maryland State Delegate, District 40
Rawlings-Blake graduated from Western High School in 1988. She graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1992 with a B.A. in Political Science. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland Law School in 1995. She was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1996 and to the Federal Bar in 1997. She is also an alumna of the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center.
In 1995, Rawlings-Blake became the youngest person ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. She became President of the Council on January 17, 2007, when then-City Council President Sheila Dixon became mayor (after then-Mayor Martin O’Malley became Governor of Maryland). Rawlings-Blake was an attorney with the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender from 1998 to 2006.
Rawlings-Blake served on the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee from 1990 to 1998. In 1993, Rawlings-Blake served as the Annapolis lobbyist for the Young Democrats of Maryland. She currently serves on the board of directors for Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, the Greater Northwest Community Coalition, the Living Classrooms Foundation, the Maryland Science Center, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Park Heights Health Association, and the Parks and People Foundation. From 1998 to 2006, Rawlings-Blake was an attorney with the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender from 1998 to 2006. She is a member of the Federal Bar Association and the Maryland State Bar Association. Rawlings-Blake is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Epsilon Omega chapter and a former at-large member of the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys.
On June 14, 2007, Rawlings-Blake announced that she would seek a full four-year term as Council president. Her platform included improving education and reducing crime in the city.
In a poll of likely Democratic voters released by the Baltimore Sun on July 17, 2007, Rawlings-Blake was in a virtual tie with Michael Sarbanes, son of former Senator Paul Sarbanes. The poll had Sarbanes getting 27% of the respondents and Rawlings-Blake 26% with Councilman Kenneth N. Harris, Sr. a distant third with 8%. The poll’s margin of error was (+ or -)v4%. She won the Democratic primary—a significant contest in heavily Democratic Baltimore—with 49% of the vote compared to 38 percent for Sarbanes. In the general election, Rawlings-Blake defeated her only opponent, Green candidate Maria Allwine, with 82 percent of the vote.
Mayor of Baltimore
On February 4, 2010, Rawlings-Blake succeeded Sheila Dixon as mayor of Baltimore when Dixon resigned as a result of her conviction for embezzlement. Under the Baltimore City Charter, the City Council President becomes mayor if the mayor dies or resigns from office.
City Budget Crisis and Fiscal Policies
Since taking office Mayor Rawlings Blake has faced massive multi-million dollar budget deficits, resulting in tough cuts to the city’s budget. The administration balanced the budget through cuts to numerous agencies such as Parks and Recreation while increasing funding for the Police Department and maintaining the City’s token financial commitment to the Baltimore City Public School System. In particular, the mayor’s cuts to Parks and Recreation resulted in the August 4, 2012 closing of 4 public recreation and Police Athletic League centers with as many as 10 centers facing closing if a private operator could not be found. As a result of recent cuts, in 2012 Baltimore closed 24 public recreation centers shedding from 55 in 2011 to 31 by 2013. The mayor favors support of centralizing and expanding just 16 centers and privatizing as many as 6 centers to be run by “private companies”.
Rawlings-Blake credits her reforms to the city pension for saving $64 million yearly, saving the city from an even worse fiscal crisis. The mayor has made extensive cuts to city social welfare programs, with cuts to funding for prisoner reentry programs and the elimination of the city’s offices of Community Development and Community Relations. In 2012, to close the budget deficit, the mayor closed 3 fire stations two of them serving Harlem Park/Sandtown-Winchester and Berea/Clifton are among Baltimore’s poorest communities.
Baltimore Grand Prix
Despite a looming $46 million dollar deficit in FY 2013 on top of a $52 million dollar shortfall in FY 2012 and $121 million in FY 2011, Mayor Rawlings-Blake is persistant in her support for the Grand Prix of Baltimore. In 2011–the first year of the race–Baltimore Racing Development faced $3 million dollar debts and failed to pay the city $1.2 million. The city terminated its contract in 2011 and offered a new contract to Downforce Racing, LLC, which it subsequently canceled. After the second company failed to raise capital and loss the contract, the mayor turned over control to Race On LLP. The third company is headed by James “J.P.” Grant, who offered the city “$350,000 upfront” and is the mayor’s single largest donor.
In both years of the race, attendance for the Grand Prix came in well under expectation and the local economic impact of the race which the mayor once called a “game changer” has come in well under estimates. In August 2011, reports indicated that Mayor Rawlings-Blake had received a total of $24,200 for her reelection campaign from individuals and companies connected to the Grand Prix. A total of $42,400 was donated to city politicians who supported the race, the mayor alone received over half the donations. In January 2012 Mayor Rawlings-Blake revoked Ravens box seats from Council President Bernard C. Young because he ended his support for the increasingly unpopular race.
Mayor Rawlings Blake is hawkish in her support for new development efforts centered around Downtown and the Inner Harbor. The mayor has continued the economic policies of her two predecessors offering lucrative tax incentives to Baltimore Development Corporation approved developers. TIF and PILOT have benefited a small number of developers and have been widely concentrated in the Inner Harbor East and Harbor Point developments. The mayor has maintained her support for the controversial Westside Superblock development, offering the New York and Atlanta based development team $22.1 million dollars worth of tax breaks with only $250,000 required in payments to the city.
2011 mayoral campaign
In the summer of 2011, several democratic candidates filed to run against Blake for mayor (see list below). The democratic primary was held on September 13, 2011 and Blake won with 52% of the vote, representing a mere 11% of registered voters in Baltimore City. Following the unenthusiastic primary win, she faced token opposition in the November general election.
Primary election results
These are the unofficial results for the 2011 Democratic primary, as reported on the city of Baltimore’s election board Web site.
Office: Mayor of Baltimore since 2010
Party: Democratic Party
Exclusive: Rawlings-Blake Reflects On Tenure
“You Won This Time…”
Uploaded on Jan 21, 2011
Video Message from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl regarding the final outcome of the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers Divisional Playoff Game on January 15, 2011.