Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Rawlings-Blake in 2013
Secretary of the Democratic National Committee
In office
January 22, 2013 – February 25, 2017
ChairDebbie Wasserman Schultz
Donna Brazile (acting)
Preceded byAlice Germond
Succeeded byJason Rae
73rd President of the United States Conference of Mayors
In office
December 21, 2015 – July 22, 2016
Preceded byKevin Johnson
Succeeded byMick Cornett
50th Mayor of Baltimore
In office
February 4, 2010 – December 6, 2016
Preceded bySheila Dixon
Succeeded byCatherine Pugh
President of the Baltimore City Council
In office
January 17, 2007 – February 4, 2010
Preceded bySheila Dixon
Succeeded byJack Young
Vice President of the Baltimore City Council
In office
PresidentSheila Dixon
Succeeded byEdward Reisinger
Member of the Baltimore City Council
In office
Succeeded bySharon Green Middleton
Constituency5th district (1995–2004)
6th district (2004-2007)
Personal details
Stephanie C. Rawlings

(1970-03-17) March 17, 1970 (age 54)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseKent Blake (separated)
RelationsPete Rawlings (Father)
EducationOberlin College (BA)
University of Maryland, Baltimore (JD)

Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake (born March 17, 1970) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 50th Mayor of Baltimore from 2010 to 2016, the second woman to hold that office. She has also served as secretary of the Democratic National Committee and as president of the United States Conference of Mayors.

Early life[edit]

Born Stephanie Cole Rawlings on March 17, 1970, in Baltimore City, Maryland, to Nina Rawlings (née Cole) and Pete Rawlings, Rawlings-Blake grew up in the city's Ashburton neighborhood.[1] Her mother is a retired pediatrician[2] and her father is a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, where he represented the 40th district, Baltimore City.[3] She had two siblings: one brother, brother Wendell Rawlings and one sister, Lisa Rawlings.[4]


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.[5]

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.[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.[7]

Political career[edit]

Early career[edit]

From 1990 to 1998, Rawlings-Blake served on the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee,[6][8] and in the 1990s she served as the Annapolis lobbyist for the Young Democrats of Maryland.[9][10]

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.[11] She represented the council's District 5 from 1995 to 2004 and District 6 from 2004 to 2007 (following a redistricting of the council).[12]

From 1999 to 2007, Rawlings-Blake served as vice president of the Baltimore City Council.[6]

City council president[edit]

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: "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."[13]

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.[14] 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.[15]

Mayor of Baltimore[edit]

Rawlings-Blake at a Baltimore Orioles game in 2012

On January 6, 2010, then-Mayor Sheila Dixon announced, following her conviction for embezzlement, that she would resign from office, effective February 4, 2010.[16] 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.[13] Consequently, following Dixon's resignation on February 4, 2010, Rawlings-Blake became mayor of Baltimore City.[17]

Rawlings-Blake went on to seek a full term as mayor in the 2011 mayoral election. In the 2011 Democratic primary, the real contest in this overwhelmingly Democratic city, she won 52% of the vote. She then won the general election in November 2011, receiving 84% of the vote. In her February 2012 State of the City address, she stated that her goal as mayor was to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families.[18]

In September 2015, Rawlings-Blake announced that she would not seek re-election in the 2016 mayoral election, stating, "It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time focused on the city's future, not my own".[19]

2015 Baltimore protests[edit]

Rawlings-Blake received criticism for her handling of the 2015 Baltimore protests that were prompted by the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015. Several days of peaceful protests escalated into violence in the late afternoon of April 25, 2015.[20] After about three hours of violence, looting, and destruction of property throughout the city, Rawlings-Blake requested the assistance of the Maryland National Guard.[21] Two days later, on April 27, as unrest continued, she requested that the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, declare a state of emergency, and on April 28, she asked for further assistance from the National Guard.[20] Rawlings-Blake was criticized for waiting too long before asking the state for help.[20] Hogan claimed that she did not return his repeated phone calls for two hours after the riots started on April 25 and that he could not enact a state of emergency or deploy the National Guard without a formal request from the mayor.[22] On April 28, Hogan said he didn't want to "second-guess the mayor's decision" and that he knew "she was doing the best that she could".[20]

In a press conference addressing the riots, 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".[23] The phrase "we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well" was interpreted by some to mean that the mayor was giving permission to protestors to destroy property.[24][25] Some conservative outlets disagreed with that interpretation, however, such as Breitbart News contributor John Sexton, who wrote, "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)".

Rawlings-Blake clarified her remarks in a Facebook post, writing, "I did not instruct police to give space to protesters who were seeking to create violence or destruction of property. Taken in context, I explained that, in giving peaceful demonstrators room to share their message, unfortunately, those who were seeking to incite violence also had space to operate".[26]

During a subsequent press conference, Rawlings-Blake said, "Too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for",[20] which led to even more criticism from people who felt her use of the term "thugs" was racially charged, such as Baltimore City Council member Carl Stokes, who compared her use of the word "thug" to the "n-word". Rawlings-Blake apologized two days later on Twitter.[26]

Secretary of the Democratic National Committee[edit]

Rawlings-Blake at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Rawlings-Blake was appointed secretary of the Democratic National Committee in January 2013, serving under Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.[27] Rawlings-Blake gaveled in the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where she served as one of 23 superdelegates from Maryland; Rawlings-Blake did not endorse any candidate at the convention.[28][29]

Political positions and policies[edit]

City budget[edit]

Rawlings-Blake at the White House speaking with Vice President Biden.

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.[30] The report outlined a number of fiscal obstacles facing the City in subsequent years.[31][32]

To address the challenges outlined in the fiscal forecast, Rawlings-Blake presented Change to Grow: A Ten-Year Financial Plan for Baltimore,[33] 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.[34] 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.[35]

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 November 2010, in an effort to reduce urban blight caused by vacant structures, Rawlings-Blake introduced the Vacants to Value (V2V) initiative.[36] 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.[37]

In 2013, Baltimore Housing won the Urban Land Institute's Robert C. Larson Workforce Housing Public Policy Awards[38] 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.[39]

Other activities[edit]

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.[40]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2007[41] and 2011,[42] 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)[43] and as an Innovator of the Year by the Maryland Daily Record (2010).[44] In 2013, she was included in The Baltimore Sun's list of 50 Women to Watch.[45]

She is a recipient of the Fullwood Foundation Award of Excellence (2010),[46] the National Forum for Black Public Administrators' Distinguished Leadership Award (2012),[47] the Maryland State Senate's First Citizen Award (2013),[48] and the Baltimore Black Pride ICONS We Love Award (2013).[49]

In 2014, Vanity Fair included Rawlings-Blake in its list of the Top 10 Best-Dressed Mayors.[50]

Electoral history[edit]


2003 Baltimore City Council, District 6, Democratic Party primary election[51]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephanie Rawlings-Blake 3,679 49%
Democratic Charese Williams 2,765 37%
Democratic Seth A. Rosenberg 487 6%
Democratic Vincent "Rick" Fullard 251 3%
Democratic Kelley C. Brohawn 243 3%
Democratic Kevin L. Williams 132 2%
2003 Baltimore City Council, District 6, general election[52]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephanie Rawlings-Blake 11,325 91%
Republican Melvin A. Bilal 1,151 9%


2007 Baltimore City Council, President, Democratic Party primary election[53]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephanie Rawlings-Blake 42,078 49%
Democratic Michael Sarbanes 32,988 39%
Democratic Kenneth Harris Sr. 9,927 12%
Democratic Charles U. Smith 369 0%
2007 Baltimore City Council, President, general election[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephanie Rawlings-Blake 34,626 82%
Green Maria Allwine 7,174 17%
  Write-in 365 1%


2011 Mayor, Baltimore, Democratic Party primary election[55]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephanie Rawlings-Blake 38,829 52%
Democratic Catherine Pugh 18,797 25%
Democratic Otis Rolley III 9,415 13%
Democratic Joseph T. Landers 5,089 7%
Democratic Frank M. Conaway Sr. 2,095 3%
Democratic Wilton Lloyd Wilson 235 0%
2011 Mayor, Baltimore, general election[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Stephanie Rawlings-Blake 40,125 84%
Republican Alfred V. Griffin 6,108 13%
  write-in 1,270 3%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blumberg, Jess; Mulvihill, Amy (April 27, 2012). "Undiscovered Baltimore 154 Things To Do In The 10 Neighborhoods You Need To Know About". Baltimore Magazine. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Morton, Will (April 27, 2008). "Rising Star". Baltimore Magazine. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  3. ^ "Howard P. Rawlings, Maryland State Delegate". Maryland Manual On-Line. Maryland State Archives. September 29, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  4. ^ ""Howard 'Pete' Rawlings dies at 66." The Baltimore Sun, 14 November 2003". Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  5. ^ "An Education In Politics". Julie Scharper. February 4, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor, Baltimore, Maryland". Maryland State Archives, Retrieved July 15, 2014.
  7. ^ Nick Alexopulos (January 23, 2012). "Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to deliver Black History Month speech Feb. 7". Loyola University Maryland.
  8. ^ "Baltimore Central Committee". Baltimore Sun. September 16, 1990.
  9. ^ Bruce, Tammy (May 5, 2015). "Generations of Democratic 'leaders' have doomed Baltimore and other cities". Fox News. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "About The U.S. Conference of Mayors". September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  11. ^ Battle, Ursula V.; McCarthy, Anthony. "The City Council changes as some depart, some arrive". Afro-American Red Star (Washington, D.C.). December 9, 1995. p. B1.
  12. ^ "Maryland Manual Online". Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Charter of Baltimore City" (PDF). City of Baltimore, Retrieved August 11, 2014.
  14. ^ "Stephanie Rawlings-Blake". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  15. ^ "City of Baltimore, Maryland". Retrieved November 8, 2011.
  16. ^ Bykowicz, Julie (January 7, 2010). "Dixon Resigns". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on March 17, 2017.
  17. ^ Scharper, Julie (February 5, 2010). "Rawlings-blake Sworn In As Mayor". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on December 31, 2014.
  18. ^ Griner, Nicholas (February 13, 2012). "Text: Rawlings-Blake State of the City Address". Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  19. ^ "Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake Says She Won't Seek Re-Election". Fox News. Associated Press. September 11, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  20. ^ a b c d e Chuck, Elizabeth (April 28, 2015). "Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Under Fire For 'Space' to Destroy Comment". NBC News. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  21. ^ Reutter, Mark; Shen, Fern (April 27, 2015). "State of Emergency Declared for Baltimore". Baltimore Brew. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  22. ^ Broadwater, Luke; Cox, Erin; Fenton, Justin (April 28, 2015). "Critics Question Delay in Calling Out the Guard". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on March 17, 2017.
  23. ^ "Baltimore Mayor: 'Gave Those Who Wished to Destroy Space to Do That'". CBS Baltimore. April 25, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  24. ^ Greenberg, Jon (April 28, 2015). "In Context: What Baltimore's mayor said about space for rioters". Politifact. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  25. ^ Manning, Richard (April 27, 2015). "Baltimore mayor's 'balancing act' gave protestors permission to turn violent". Fox News. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Fang, Marina (April 29, 2015). "Baltimore Mayor Apologizes For Calling Protesters 'Thugs'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  27. ^ "Rawlings-Blake becomes DNC secretary, takes office Tuesday". Baltimore Business Journal. January 22, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  28. ^ "Unpledged Delegates By State" (PDF). Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  29. ^ "In face of uproar, Fattah resigns effective immediately". June 24, 2016.
  30. ^ "City of Baltimore Releases First Ten-Year Fiscal Forecast" (Press release). City of Baltimore. February 6, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  31. ^ City of Baltimore, Maryland Ten-Year Fiscal Forecast FY2013 – FY2022 (PDF), Public Financial Management, Inc., February 6, 2013, retrieved August 12, 2014
  32. ^ "City of Baltimore is on a path to financial ruin, report says". Associated Press. February 6, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  33. ^ "Change to Grow: A Ten-Year Financial Plan for Baltimore" (PDF). City of Baltimore, Maryland. February 20, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  34. ^ "Mayor Rawlings-Blake Issues First-of-Its-Kind Ten-Year Financial Plan" (Press release). City of Baltimore. February 20, 2013. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  35. ^ Broadwater, Luke. "Rawlings-Blake says she's leaving Baltimore in better shape than she found it". Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  36. ^ "Rawlings-Blake unveils plan for vacant housing". The Baltimore Sun. November 3, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  37. ^ "Vacants to Value - About". Baltimore Housing. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  38. ^ "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. November 6, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  39. ^ "Vacants to Value - About". Baltimore Housing. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  40. ^ "Baltimore Mayor Is Chicago Star Tonight". Playbill. March 4, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  41. ^ "2007 Winners Marylands Top 100 Women". The Daily Record. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  42. ^ "2011 Winners Marylands Top 100 Women". The Daily Record. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  43. ^ "Stephanie Rawlings-Blake". Archived from the original on April 23, 2019. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  44. ^ "2010 Winners Innovator of the Year". The Daily Record. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  45. ^ "50 Women to Watch Stephanie Rawlings-Blake". The Baltimore Sun. July 16, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  46. ^ "Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series)". Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  47. ^ "2013 Leadership Awards Dinner". National Forum for Black Public Administrators. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  48. ^ "The First Citizen Award". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  49. ^ "Rawlings-Blake 'extremely honored' to receive Black Pride ICON award". The Baltimore Sun. October 14, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  50. ^ "Photos: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore – The Top 10 Best-Dressed Mayors". Vanity Fair. June 13, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  51. ^ City Primary Results". The Baltimore Sun. September 10, 2003.
  52. ^ Baltimore City General Election Results". The Baltimore Sun. December 8, 2004.
  53. ^ City of Baltimore - Board of Elections - Official Election Results". City of Baltimore, Maryland. September 24, 2007. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
  54. ^ City of Baltimore - Board of Elections - Official Election Results". City of Baltimore, Maryland. 2007.
  55. ^ Baltimore City Primary Held September 13, 2011". Baltimore City Board of Elections. September 28, 2011.
  56. ^ Baltimore City General Election Held November 8, 2011". Baltimore City Board of Elections. November 22, 2011.

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