Life goes on for former Baltimore mayors

Former Baltimore mayors: who they were, how they left office, and what they did next.

Life goes on after leaving the mayor's office — at least, that's one conclusion that can be drawn from examining the histories of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's seven most recent predecessors. The list that follows details the years they were mayor, how they left office, and what they did next, culled from The Sun's archives:

Thomas J. D'Alesandro III (1967-1971). D'Alesandro was just 38 years old and had served a single year in the mayor's office before the 1968 riots tore Baltimore apart. His decision not to seek re-election capped months of speculation and ended what had been seen as a promising political career. For his part, D'Alesandro maintained steadfastly that he was stepping down primarily because he couldn't support his five children on his mayor's salary. He later contemplated running for governor but instead dusted off his law degree, specializing in worker's compensation and personal injury litigation.

William Donald Schaefer (1971-1987). Schaefer parlayed his post as Baltimore City Council president into the mayor's office after D'Alesandro decided not to run again. He occupied that office for nearly 16 years, winning more than 85 percent of the vote each time. He left the mayor's office only after he was overwhelmingly elected as governor, the job he held until 1995. After he served the maximum two terms, Schaefer took a few years off before running for comptroller of Maryland, remaining in that post from 1999 to 2007. The then-85-year-old Schaefer was defeated in a tight three-way race by the current occupant of that office, Peter Franchot.

Clarence H. Du Burns (1987). The folksy, charming, self-made Burns became Baltimore's first African-American mayor, serving out the final 11 months of Schaefer's last term. Burns, then 69, sought to win election as mayor in his own right. But he was narrowly edged out by Kurt L. Schmoke in the 1987 election, and was defeated more resoundingly by Schmoke again in 1991. Burns had deep and long-standing ties to then-Governor Schaefer and continued to serve in a behind-the-scenes capacity and as an elder statesmen of Baltimore politics until his death in 2003.

Kurt L. Schmoke (1987-1999). Schmoke, a former Rhodes scholar and Harvard Law School graduate, served for three terms. In 1998, he announced that he wouldn't seek the mayor's seat for a fourth time, a decision that surprised many. After leaving office, Schmoke became a partner in a high-powered corporate law firm based in Washington, and in 2004 was named dean of the Howard University Law School. Ten years later, he was appointed president of the University of Baltimore, the position he currently holds.

Martin J. O'Malley (1999-2007). Martin O'Malley has been immersed in politics since 1982, when he was a college student working for presidential candidate Gary Hart. He was elected to his first of two, four-year terms as Baltimore's mayor in 1999, then handily won two terms as governor. He is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for president. He's featured in the current issue of Time magazine, where he was spotlighted while strumming his guitar and singing for donations on Wall Street. After one hour, O'Malley came away with $1.74 and a packet of Gummy Bears.

Sheila Dixon (2007-2010). Then president of the Baltimore City Council, Dixon finished out Martin O'Malley's final term as mayor after he was elected Maryland's governor. In 2007, she was the first African-American woman to win election as Baltimore's mayor — only to resign three years later after she was convicted of one misdemeanor count of stealing gift cards intended for needy children. As part of the plea deal, Dixon got to keep her $83,000 city pension. Since leaving office, she has worked as a fundraiser and raised her two children. She completed probation in 2013, making her eligible to once again seek elective office. She announced in July that she would run for Baltimore mayor in 2016.

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

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