Rawlings-Blake runs on record

Driver Will Power took home the trophy from the Baltimore Grand Prix, but the biggest winner of the three-day racing festival might have been Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Rawlings-Blake made perhaps the largest political gamble of her 18 months in office in deciding to back the race — and invest millions of dollars in roadwork to prepare for it.

The race last weekend appears to have been a success, with more than 100,000 tickets sold, and hotels and parking lots boasting an uptick in business.

"I was proud to see our beautiful city portrayed in a way I know everyone should see Baltimore," Rawlings-Blake said. "We've never done anything like this before, and now we have new ideas to make next year's bigger and better."

Since Rawlings-Blake became mayor last year following the resignation of Sheila Dixon, she has led the city through blizzards, a tornado, and most recently, an earthquake and a hurricane.

She also has faced two years of budget shortfalls, gaps she closed by raising more than 60 fees and 15 taxes and trimming spending on rec centers, pools and youth summer jobs.

At campaign events, Rawlings-Blake says her approach is steady and practical. She says her challengers' promises to boost spending on youth programs while dramatically cutting the property tax rate are not feasible.

"The difference between me and the other competitors is that my property tax plan responsibly reduces taxes and it targets the reduction towards homeowners," Rawlings-Blake said at a forum. "The others have plans that would force us to make cuts, up to $400 million, and they're really not talking about where those service cuts come from."

Rawlings-Blake was elected to the City Council after earning her law degree from the University of Maryland. After more than a decade on the council, Rawlings-Blake was elected council president by her colleagues when Dixon became mayor. She made her first run for citywide office in 2007, fending off challenger Michael Sarbanes to retain the council presidency.

During the mayoral campaign, she has remained largely above the fray, eschewing most candidate forums and filling her schedule with endorsement events.

As the incumbent, she has other opportunities to stay in the spotlight: A ribbon-cutting at the Patterson Park Charter School, the reopening of the Broadway Market, the demolition of a derelict Howard Park grocery store to make room for a new supermarket.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Age: 41

Family: Married, one daughter

Education: B.A., Oberlin College; J.D., University of Maryland

Occupation: Mayor, 2010-present; Baltimore Office of the Public Defender, 1998-2007

Public Offices Held: Mayor, 2010-present; City Council president, 2007-2010; City Council, 1995-2007

Why are you running for mayor? I wake up every day determined to reduce crime, make our schools better, create jobs and provide vital services move Baltimore forward and help our city reach its greatest potential.

What is the greatest challenge facing Baltimore? Job creation, crime, and education provide equal challenges for Baltimore.

How do you intend to address it? My top priority for the next four years is addressing issues that have the greatest impact on all of Baltimore's families. We must redouble our efforts to create more jobs, make our streets safer, educate our children, and empower our neighborhoods. All of these issues hold equal value and must receive equal attention to move our city forward.