What made Mr. Schaefer a great mayor is that he cared about Baltimore, its people and the neighborhoods they loved. Though the current mayor notes the development projects completed under Mr. Schaefer's watch to advance her own argument, she fails to grasp his greatest legacy. His greatest legacy isn't bricks and mortar. It's the people he loved, connected with, and tirelessly served.
I speak from experience. I have been working since I was 13 years old because I had to. While serving this city under three different mayors, I had the pleasure of bringing the second urban Main Streets program in the country to Baltimore, helping to strengthen neighborhood retail and supporting small businesses. I reorganized the development permitting shop, removing red tape and improving customer service, making it easier for residents and developers to rebuild and invest in Baltimore's neighborhoods. I reorganized and rebuilt the Planning Department, adopting dozens of neighborhood and community-wide master plans, all while working with diverse — sometimes competing — interests to achieve common goals. I directed the development of the first citywide master plan to be adopted in 39 years. I'm running for mayor because I love this city, want to see it prosper, and know I have the education and experience to lead that process. Not everyone can say the same.
I'm ready to be judged on my record. I hope that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and all residents of Baltimore are truly inspired by Mr. Schaefer's great mantra, "Do it now!" But no one should be allowed to claim the office he held so proudly without understanding the true greatness of the man and the meaning of his accomplishments.
Otis Rolley, Baltimore
The writer is a candidate for mayor.