Mayor urges city residents to 'pitch in' to improve Baltimore

In her inaugural address Tuesday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake exhorted Baltimoreans to "pitch in and do their part" to improve the city and draw new residents despite economic challenges.

Speaking in a light rain outside City Hall, Rawlings-Blake, 41, urged residents to draw inspiration from civil rights leaders of her parents' generation to summon a "sense of urgency and collective sacrifice for a greater purpose."

"Citizenship is an opportunity and a duty in which everyone contributes to and benefits from a greater good," she said. "When we come together with a collective spirit of urgency, our people and businesses, empowered by self-determination, will transform our city."

Rawlings-Blake's husband, Kent Blake, held an umbrella as she spoke. Several dozen elected officials joined her on the stage in front of City Hall, including two who had challenged her in the Democratic primary for mayor — State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh and Clerk of Court Frank M. Conaway Sr.

Conaway administered the oath of office to Rawlings-Blake, as is customary.

Rawlings-Blake, who was elevated to the mayor's office in February 2010 after the resignation of Sheila Dixon as part of a plea agreement to settle criminal charges, was sworn in for her first full term. She said she aims to attract 10,000 new families —- or about 22,000 residents — to the city in the next decade.

"A shrinking city simply cannot stand, but a growing city is the center of a creative and stronger society," Rawlings-Blake said. "This work is the urgent work before us. It begins in earnest today — right now."

Students from the Morgan State University band, City College and the Baltimore School for the Arts performed at the ceremony, which was attended by more than 100 city workers, community and business leaders and members of the mayor's family.

Kimoya Henry, an honor student at Western High School, Rawlings-Blake's alma mater, urged the mayor to "always shine your light brighter."

"This way you will be true to the Western motto, 'We have received light, let us give forth light,'" Henry said.

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