In what may be her first truly great act as Mayor, and certainly since April's uprising, during which she was widely seen as absent, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced today that she will not seek re-election next year so that she could focus on the needs of the city.
Rawlings-Blake, whom I usually call "$RB," doesn't feel it would be appropriate to raise money for a campaign.
While the language and sentiment of "aftermath of the rioting" is indicative of $RB's attitude over the last few weeks—and largely misses the point; the truly problematic conditions of poverty and the policing of the black community existed before the uprising—the decision gives the mayor a rare opportunity to be a true leader, rather than a politician trying to raise cash, over the next 15 months. She can stop focusing on the PR campaigns designed to bring a mythical 10,000 families to the city and start to focus on the families that are already in the city.
During the press conference in which she announced that she won't seek re-election, she said she had no regrets, saying "to me if I was miserable, I did a damn good job." She also commented on the difficulty of being a female politician, quoting Ginger Rogers on dancing with Fred Astaire, saying "You have to do it backwards and in high heels"—a playful nod to her preference for fancy footwear. It also recalled the time she once told me "Don't let the lip gloss fool you" in anger.
"I love my city, I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to serve," she said, noting that she is "relishing" continuing the job for the next 15 months, free of political bullshit.
Of course, she could use this moment to simply fade away, but we hope that the mayor has it in her to try something truly great over the next 15 months. These moments may, ultimately, be the ones that make her legacy. Don't fuck it up, $RB.