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Rawlings-Blake: 'We have a unique opportunity'

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spoke briefly Wednesday in her first public appearance after securing the Democratic nomination for mayor, but was tight-lipped on plans for her first full term in the office.

"I'm glad it's over and now we can continue to do the work to move Baltimore forward," Rawlings-Blake said. She swept a field of challengers in the Democratic primary Tuesday with 52 percent of the vote.

In heavily Democratic Baltimore, the general election in November is seen as a formality for the party nominee. Rawlings-Blake, who ascended to the city's highest office last year after Sheila Dixon resigned, is expected to coast to a four-year term against the Republican primary winner, Alfred V. Griffin.

"Today is about moving forward together," Rawlings-Blake told reporters Wednesday morning after the weekly meeting of the city Board of Estimates. "I think [with] the broad support that I was able to get mixed with my olive branch to the opponents' supporters, we have a unique opportunity to move forward again."

Rawlings-Blake received support throughout the city, winning precincts in both traditionally white and traditionally black neighborhoods.

When asked about her goals for the future, Rawlings-Blake returned to the three-part slogan that has been her motto since she was the City Council president.

"We have a shared vision for our city," she said. "Everyone wants safer streets, better schools and stronger neighborhoods."

She declined to say whether she planned to replace agency heads or cabinet members, many of whom are holdovers from the Dixon administration.

"I'm not making any personnel announcements here," Rawlings-Blake said. She said she was "constantly evaluating" city leadership.

Rawlings-Blake said that she planned on "continuing the restructuring" of the quasi-governmental Baltimore Development Corp.

"We're going to do a lot more advocacy in the business community, trying to retain more business in Baltimore," she said.

And she said she planned to spur economic development by "making more investment in innovation." She praised the work of Canton's Emerging Technology Center.

Rawlings-Blake said she was "frustrated" that work had been delayed on the slots casino proposed for the city. Bids for that project are due in two weeks, a two-month extension of the original date.

She said she did not know how many bids would be submitted, but that she had "confidence that we will receive bids from people who are not just interested but capable."

Rawlings-Blake said she was disappointed by the record-low turnout of 18.5 percent of registered voters.

"I had hoped for a larger turnout," she said. "My campaign put considerable resources into yesterday — feet on the street as well as money."

Describing herself as a "student of politics and a lover of democracy," Rawlings-Blake said she planned to examine other cities' initiatives to boost turnout.

But she also noted that slightly more voters cast ballots yesterday than in last year's citywide race for state's attorney, in which Gregg L. Bernstein upset incumbent Patricia C. Jessamy.


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