Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has confirmed she will not seek re-election as mayor of Baltimore, Maryland. In recent months, the mayor received stark criticism for her handling of the 2015 Baltimore riots. It is unclear whether the controversy influenced her decision. However, Rawlings-Blake said she simply does not have time to campaign.
A native of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake graduated from Western High School in 1988. She then went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio’s Oberlin College. In 1995, she graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law with a Juris Doctor Degree.
As reported by the City of Baltimore website, Rawlings-Blake was elected to the Baltimore City Council at the age of 25. Between 1995 and 2007, she served the fifth and sixth districts. In 2007, she was appointed president of the City Council — a position she held for three years.
Following the resignation of then-Mayor Sheila Dixon, Rawlings-Blake was appointed to fill the empty seat. The following year, she was elected to a full term as mayor of Baltimore, Maryland.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s term as mayor has not been without controversy; she was specifically criticized for her response to the 2015 Baltimore riots.
On April 12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr., was arrested on a weapons charge. While in custody, 25-year-old suffered an injury to his spinal cord. As a result, he fell into a coma and died one week later.
The circumstances surrounding Gray’s injury remain a point of heated controversy. Although witnesses blamed the arresting officers for using excessive force, the officers denied any wrongdoing.
A medical examiner later determined Freddie Gray’s cause of death was homicide. The manner of death was listed as a neck injury sustained as a result of riding inside the police van without proper restraints.
In the weeks following Gray’s arrest, the streets of Baltimore erupted into riots. Amid the chaos, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made a statement, which is still receiving criticism.
“It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well… “
Days later, the mayor scheduled a press conference to clarify her position. As reported by NBC News, her explanation only fueled the fire — as she referred to the rioters as “thugs.”
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake did not mention the controversy when she announced her decision to not seek re-election. Instead, she said she would prefer to focus on her current goals.
[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]