Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore's beleaguered mayor who garnered national attention in the wake of Freddie Gray's death, made a surprise announcement Friday that she will not seek re-election in 2016.
Rawlings-Blake, 45, has been criticized for the way she handled the riots in April over the death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody, The New York Times reported
. But even so, her decision not to run surprised many.
In a press conference at City Hall Friday, Rawlings-Blake said she has been considering her decision for two months, according to the Baltimore Sun
. She said she wants to focus in the future on healing Baltimore and reforming its police department.
"It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time, the remaining 15 months of my term, focused on the city's future and not my own," she said.
Re-election would be "time that I would be taking away from my current responsibility to my city, to the city that I love, the city that I took an oath to serve," she said, according to The Times. "And because of that, I have made the decision not to run for re-election."
On Facebook, Rawlings-Blake added
to what she said at the press conference, telling followers, "As I work with the U.S. Department of Justice to reform our police department, as I fight for more recreational opportunities for our youth, as I seek to attract new businesses and new investments to Baltimore, I do not want every difficult decision to be evaluated, questioned and critiqued within the context of how it affects a political campaign."
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