But he said Rawlings-Blake's approach to closing significant budget gaps two years in a row earned his trust.

Irene Cromartie, a retired insurance agent from Cherry Hill, said she has met Rawlings-Blake several times, most recently at a summer crab feast for seniors.

"I think she's an honest person," said Cromartie, 77. "She's done quite well, considering the mess she took over."

But others said the city is due for new leadership.

Rita Silverman, 68, of Northwest Baltimore said she is drawn to Rolley's "fresh ideas."

"He looks like he has fire in the belly, and that's refreshing," she said. "I like Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, but I think she's sticking too much with the status quo."

Rawlings-Blake strikes some voters as lacking passion.

Vicki Defries, 59, of Mount Washington said she has not been impressed by Rawlings-Blake's appearances on television.

"There was not an ounce of connection to the city," she said. "She looked angry. She looked disgusted."

Defries said she had been supporting Rolley but had been turned off by what she described as his campaign's increasingly negative tone in recent days. She says she is now undecided.

Linda Dennis, 59, a school system employee, said she planned to vote for Pugh, because the longtime West Baltimore leader appears to have more empathy than Rawlings-Blake.

"I've watched [Pugh] speak at a couple of functions, and she actually talks to the people," Dennis said.

Dennis said she is harassed by drug dealers in the Pimlico home in which she has lived for half a century. In 2008, she said, her two Volvos were firebombed while parked outside.

She said she has not seen the neighborhood grow more safe under Rawlings-Blake's tenure.

"I voted for her in the last election, but I wouldn't vote for her again," she said. "She hasn't done anything."

But others said Rawlings-Blake was doing as well as could be expected, given the city's fiscal restraints during the weak economic recovery.

Alice McMeekins, 80, said she appreciated Rawlings-Blake's stances on crime and education but feels the city's financial problems have hampered the mayor's efforts to improve the city.

"There's really no money to do anything with," she said.

Gray, who volunteers with his church's summer camp, said he has felt the pain of Rawlings-Blake's budget cuts firsthand.

The city-funded splash pool where volunteers take the campers has been open for fewer days and shorter hours this summer, part of Rawlings-Blake's efforts to trim spending.