Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.jpg
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
49th Mayor of Baltimore
Incumbent
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 2007
Personal details
Born (1970-03-17) March 17, 1970 (age 44)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Kent V. Blake
Relations Howard "Pete" Rawlings, former (D), Maryland State Delegate, District 40
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. She is the second woman to hold the office. As president of the Baltimore City Council, Rawlings-Blake ascended to the mayorship following the 2010 resignation of Sheila Dixon, and was elected in her own right in 2011. A member of the Democratic Party, she currently serves as secretary of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)[1] and Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.[2]

Early life and family[edit]

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]

Education[edit]

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.

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 in 1995. She was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1996 and to the Federal Bar in 1997.[6]

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.[6] She is a former at-large member of the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Early career[edit]

From 1990 to 1998, Rawlings-Blake served on the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee,[6] 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.[6]

Baltimore City Council[edit]

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.[6]

City council president[edit]

She 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."[7]

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.[8]

Mayor of Baltimore[edit]

On February 4, 2010, Dixon was convicted for embezzlement. The Maryland Constitution does not allow convicted felons to hold office, so Dixon was forced to resign as mayor hours after her conviction. Rawlings-Blake, as council president, automatically succeeded Dixon as mayor.[9]

In the summer of 2011, Rawlings-Blake sought a full term as mayor. Several Democratic candidates filed to run against Blake in the Democratic primary (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. Nonetheless, this all but assured her of winning a full term in November.[10] In the general election, she handily defeated Republican challenger Alfred Griffin, taking 84 percent of the vote.[11]

Political positions and policies[edit]

City budget[edit]

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 financial commitment to the Baltimore City Public School System. Rawlings-Blake credits her reforms to the city pension for saving $64 million yearly, saving the city from an even worse fiscal crisis.

In 2013, Rawlings-Blake commissioned an independent study showing that the city of Baltimore could go bankrupt within the next decade. The study showed that the city's total shortfall would reach $2 billion over 10 years.[12]

Urban blight[edit]

At the time Rawlings-Blake took office, Baltimore City had approximately 16,000 vacant buildings, resulting from a half-century of population decline. In in November 2010, in an effort to reduce urban blight caused by vacant structures, Mayor Rawlings-Blake introduced the Vacants to Value (V2V) initiative.[13] 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.[14]

In 2013, Baltimore Housing won the Urban Land Institute's Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Awards[15] 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.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

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.

On May 9, 2013, Rawlings-Blake’s 20-year-old cousin Joseph Haskins was shot and killed during a home invasion robbery.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Fritze (January 21, 2013). "Rawlings-Blake to take leadership post at DNC". Articles.baltimoresun.com. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Elected Vice President of 82nd U.S. Conference of Mayors". Hearst Radio Inc., WBAL Radio. June 23, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  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". Citypaper.com. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Howard P. Rawlings, Maryland State Delegate". msa.maryland.gov. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor, Baltimore, Maryland". Maryland State Archives, msa.md.gov. Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Charter of Baltimore City". City of Baltimore, baltimorecity.gov. Retrieved August 11, 2014. 
  8. ^ "City of Baltimore, Maryland". Baltimorecity.gov. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ Vozzella, Laura (December 2, 2009). "Laura Vozzella: The prolific Juror No. 11 finally gets to speak out". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ Scharper, Julie (September 14, 2011). "Rawlings-Blake: 'We have a unique opportunity'". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  11. ^ 2011 mayoral results
  12. ^ "Report: Baltimore Could Soon Go Bankrupt". baltimorenewsjournal.com. February 6, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Rawlings-Blake unveils plan for vacant housing". The Baltimore Sun. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Vacants to Value - About". Baltimore Housing. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ "Baltimore mayor's cousin one of two people shot and killed Wednesday". The Baltimore Sun. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2014.