Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Blake in 2011
49th Mayor of Baltimore
Assumed office
February 4, 2010
Preceded by Sheila Dixon
49th President of the Baltimore City Council
In office
January 17, 2007 – February 4, 2010
Preceded by Sheila Dixon
Succeeded by Bernard C. Young
Member of the Baltimore City Council
In office
December 1995 – January 17, 2007
Personal details
Born Stephanie C. Rawlings
(1970-03-17) March 17, 1970 (age 48)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kent V. Blake
Relations Nina Rawlings, M.D. (mother); Howard "Pete" Rawlings, former member Maryland House of Delegates (father)
Children Sophia Blake
Profession Attorney

Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake (born March 17, 1970) is an American politician and the 49th and current mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. She is the second woman to hold the office. A member of the Democratic Party, she currently serves as secretary of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)[1] and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.[2]

Early life and family

Rawlings-Blake was born in Baltimore and grew up in the city's Ashburton neighborhood.[3] She is the daughter of Nina Rawlings, M.D. (pediatrician), and Howard "Pete" Rawlings,[4] former member of the Maryland House of Delegates.[5]


Rawlings-Blake attended Western High School, the oldest public all-girls high school in the United States. In 1984, she was elected vice president of her class. She graduated in 1988.[6]

Rawlings-Blake attended Oberlin College in Ohio, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political science. She later returned to Baltimore to attend the University of Maryland School of Law, where she earned her juris doctor degree in 1995. She was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1996 and to the federal bar in 1997.[7]

Rawlings-Blake is an alumna of the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center[citation needed] and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Epsilon Omega chapter.[7] She is a former at-large member of the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys.[8]

Political career

Early career

From 1990 to 1998 Rawlings-Blake served on the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee,[7] and in 1993 she served as the Annapolis lobbyist for the Young Democrats of Maryland.[citation needed]

In 1997 Rawlings-Blake began serving as an administrative law attorney with the Baltimore City office of the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, which offers free civil legal services to Maryland's low-income residents. She went on to serve as a staff attorney with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in its Southern District (District 1, Baltimore City) from 1998 to 2006.[7]

Baltimore City Council

In 1995, Rawlings-Blake became the youngest person ever elected to the Baltimore City Council. She represented the council's District 5 from 1995 to 2004 and District 6 from 2004 to 2007 (following a redistricting of the council).[citation needed]

From 1999 to 2007, Rawlings-Blake served as vice president of the Baltimore City Council.[7]

City council president

Rawlings-Blake became President of the Council on January 17, 2007, when then-City Council President Sheila Dixon became mayor. The Charter of Baltimore City states that, "If it becomes necessary for the president of the City Council to fill the unexpired term of the mayor…the City Council, by a majority vote of its members, shall elect a new president for the unexpired term."[9]

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.[citation needed] Rawlings-Blake won the Democratic primary with 49 percent of the vote. In the general election, Rawlings-Blake defeated her only opponent with 82 percent of the vote.[10]

Mayor of Baltimore

On January 6, 2010, then-Mayor Sheila Dixon announced, following her conviction for embezzlement, that she would resign from office, effective February 4, 2010. Under the Baltimore City charter, whenever the mayor's office becomes vacant, the sitting city council president automatically ascends to the mayor's post for the balance of the term.[9] Consequently, following Dixon's resignation on February 4, 2010, Rawlings-Blake became mayor of Baltimore City.[11]

Rawlings-Blake went on to seek a full term as mayor in November 2011. In the September 13 Democratic primary, she won 52 percent of the vote. She then won a full term in the November general election, receiving 84 percent of the vote.

Rawlings-Blake has stated that her goal as mayor is to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families.[12]

On September 11, 2015, Rawlings-Blake announced that she would not seek re-election as Mayor of Baltimore. The mayor stated, "It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time focused on the city's future, not my own."[13]

2015 Baltimore protests

In a press conference addressing the riots that took place during the 2015 Baltimore protests, Rawlings-Blake stated, "It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.”[14] The phrase "we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well" was interpreted by some conservative news sources[15][16][17] as an indication that the mayor was giving permission to protesters to destroy property, while some others, including Breitbart News Network, pointed out that "when you look at the full context, it’s clear the Mayor meant something different (though it’s also true she didn’t say it very clearly)."[18]

On April 27, 2015, the mayor's Director of Strategic Planning and Policy, Howard Libit, released a statement clarifying the mayor's remarks:

What she is saying within this statement was that there was an effort to give the peaceful demonstrators room to conduct their peaceful protests on Saturday. Unfortunately, as a result of providing the peaceful demonstrators with the space to share their message, that also meant that those seeking to incite violence also had the space to operate. The police sought to balance the rights of the peaceful demonstrators against the need to step in against those who were seeking to create violence.

The mayor is not saying that she asked police to give space to people who sought to create violence. Any suggestion otherwise would be a misinterpretation of her statement.[19]

Political positions and policies

City budget

On February 6, 2013, Baltimore City released a 10-year fiscal forecast, which the City had commissioned from independent financial consulting firm Public Financial Management, Inc. (PFM) at Rawlings-Blake's direction.[20] The report outlined a number of fiscal obstacles facing the City in subsequent years.[21][22]

To address the challenges outlined in the fiscal forecast, Rawlings-Blake presented Change to Grow: A Ten-Year Financial Plan for Baltimore,[23] the City’s first long-range financial plan. Among other major reforms, the plan outlined proposed changes to Baltimore City’s employee pensions and benefits system, City tax structure, and overall municipal operations.[24] By implementing elements of this plan, Baltimore City has been able to extinguish $300 million from a cumulative budgetary shortfall forecasted at approximately $750 million.[citation needed]

Urban blight

At the time Rawlings-Blake took office, Baltimore City had approximately 16,000 vacant buildings, resulting from a half-century of population decline. In November 2010, in an effort to reduce urban blight caused by vacant structures, Rawlings-Blake introduced the Vacants to Value (V2V) initiative.[25] The initiative's strategies include streamlining code enforcement and disposition of City-owned vacant properties, offering incentives targeted at home buyers who purchase previously vacant homes, supporting large-scale redevelopment in deeply distressed areas, and targeting demolition to improve long-term property values.[26]

In 2013, Baltimore Housing won the Urban Land Institute's Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Awards[27] for the V2V initiative. V2V has also been recognized by the Obama Administration, the Clinton Global Initiative, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, ABCD Network, and the Financial Times.[28]

Other activities

In 2015, Rawlings-Blake became the first mayor to appear in the musical Chicago, saying "I am honored to be the first mayor to appear in Chicago—one of the most historic shows in Broadway history—and I want to reassure the cast and crew that I am already hard at work rehearsing my lines. I always love to show off the 'razzle dazzle' of Baltimore's flourishing cultural scene, from expanding our Arts & Entertainment Districts, to growing Baltimore's downtown theater corridor and all that jazz. I cannot wait to make my big debut in an amazing show like Chicago." She appeared in a one night performance on March 4, 2015, as an ensemble performer throughout the night.[29]

Awards and honors

In 2007[30] and 2011,[31] Rawlings-Blake was honored by the Daily Record as one of Maryland's Top 100 Women.

Rawlings-Blake was named as a Shirley Chisholm Memorial Award Trailblazer by the National Congress of Black Women, Washington, DC Chapter (2009)[citation needed] and as an Innovator of the Year by the Maryland Daily Record (2010).[32] In 2013, she was included in The Baltimore Sun's list of 50 Women to Watch.[33]

She is a recipient of the Fullwood Foundation Award of Excellence (2010),[citation needed] the National Forum for Black Public Administrators' Distinguished Leadership Award (2012),[34] the Maryland State Senate's First Citizen Award (2013),[35] and the Baltimore Black Pride ICONS We Love Award (2013).[36]

In 2014, Vanity Fair included Rawlings-Blake in its list of the Top 10 Best-Dressed Mayors.[37]

Personal life

Rawlings-Blake currently lives in Baltimore’s Coldspring neighborhood with her husband, Kent Blake, and their daughter, Sophia. She is a member of Douglas Memorial Community Church, a historic Methodist Episcopal church in downtown Baltimore.[38]

On May 9, 2013, Rawlings-Blake’s 20-year-old cousin, Joseph Haskins, was shot and killed during a home invasion robbery.[39]

See also


  1. John Fritze (January 21, 2013). "Rawlings-Blake to take leadership post at DNC". Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  2. "About The U.S. Conference of Mayors". September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015. 
  3. "Undiscovered Baltimore 154 Things To Do In The 10 Neighborhoods You Need To Know About". Baltimore Magazine. Retrieved December 10, 2014. 
  4. "Feature: City Paper's Guide to the Primary Race, 2003 | July 23, 2003". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  5. "Howard P. Rawlings, Maryland State Delegate". Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  6. "An Education In Politics". Julie Scharper. 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 "Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor, Baltimore, Maryland". Maryland State Archives, Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  8. Nick Alexopulos (January 23, 2012). "Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to deliver Black History Month speech Feb. 7". Loyola University Maryland. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Charter of Baltimore City" (PDF). City of Baltimore, Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  10. "City of Baltimore, Maryland". Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  11. "Rawlings-blake Sworn In As Mayor". The Baltimore Sun. February 5, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2014. 
  12. "Text: Rawlings-Blake State of the City address". Baltimore Business Journal. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  14. "Baltimore Mayor: ‘Gave Those Who Wished to Destroy Space to Do That’". 2015-04-25. Retrieved 2015-04-28. 
  15. "Baltimore Mayor: Space Was Provided To Those Who ‘Wished To Destroy‘". 2015-04-26. Retrieved 2015-04-28. 
  16. "Baltimore Mayor Gave Protesters 'Permission to Riot'". 2015-04-28. Retrieved 2015-04-28. 
  17. "Baltimore mayor's 'balancing act' gave protestors permission to turn violent". 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-04-28. 
  18. "Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: I Did Not Intentionally Give Space to Those Wanting to ‘Destroy’". 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2015-04-28. 
  19. Kevin Harris (2015-04-27). "Rawlings-Blake Administration Issues Statement Regarding Mayor's Comments on the Rights of Protesters". Retrieved 2015-04-28. 
  20. "City of Baltimore Releases First Ten-Year Fiscal Forecast" (Press release). City of Baltimore. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  21. City of Baltimore, Maryland Ten-Year Fiscal Forecast FY2013 – FY2022 (PDF), Public Financial Management, Inc., 6 February 2013, retrieved 12 August 2014 
  22. "City of Baltimore is on a path to financial ruin, report says". Associated Press. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  23. "Change to Grow: A Ten-Year Financial Plan for Baltimore" (PDF). City of Baltimore, Maryland. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  24. "Mayor Rawlings-Blake Issues First-of-Its-Kind Ten-Year Financial Plan" (Press release). City of Baltimore. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  25. "Rawlings-Blake unveils plan for vacant housing". The Baltimore Sun. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  26. "Vacants to Value - About". Baltimore Housing. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  27. "ULI Announces Winners of the 2013 Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Models of Excellence Awards and 2013 Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Awards" (Press release). Urban Land Institute. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  28. "Vacants to Value - About". Baltimore Housing. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  29. "Baltimore Mayor Is Chicago Star Tonight". Playbill. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  30. "2007 Winners Marylands Top 100 Women". The Daily Record. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  31. "2011 Winners Marylands Top 100 Women". The Daily Record. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  32. "2010 Winners Innovator of the Year". The Daily Record. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  33. "50 Women to Watch Stephanie Rawlings-Blake". The Baltimore Sun. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  34. "2013 Leadership Awards Dinner". National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  35. "The First Citizen Award". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  36. "Rawlings-Blake 'extremely honored' to receive Black Pride ICON award". The Baltimore Sun. 14 October 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  37. "Photos: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore – The Top 10 Best-Dressed Mayors". Vanity Fair. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  38. "Office of the Mayor - Biography". Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  39. "Baltimore mayor's cousin one of two people shot and killed Wednesday". The Baltimore Sun. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 

External links