*The City of Baltimore is still reeling from the death of Freddie Gray, a resident who died in police custody nearly five months ago. His demise sparked a rash of violent protests throughout the country.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced during a news conference that she will not seek re-election next year.
Rawlings-Blake made the announcement Friday, a decision that comes just days after officials said the city would pay Gray’s family $6.4 million to settle civil claims over his spinal injury.
The mayor believes she could win re-election, pointing to her work on the city’s budget and pension system. However, not pursuing re-election was the best decision for the city and for her family, she told reporters. Among other things, she said the city needed to get through the trials of the six police officers charged in Gray’s death.
“It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time focused on the city’s future, not my own,” she said.
When Rawlings was first elected, some questioned her ability to lead the city. She eventually won praise for her handling of snowstorms and budget gaps. That praise quickly turned to criticism as many blasted her handling of the unrest following Gray’s death.
In July, she fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and appointed one of his deputies in the interim.