Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who led a city convulsed by protests and rioting after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, said on Friday that she will not seek re-election next year.
She made the announcement as Baltimore prepares for the trial of six police officers involved in Gray’s arrest. A judge this week rejected a defense motion to have the case moved out of Baltimore because of heavy pretrial publicity.
Rawlings-Blake said she wanted to focus on managing the city through the trial, which begins next month, and on helping it heal from the unrest that followed Gray’s death in April.
“Every moment that I spend planning for a campaign or re-election was time that I was taking away from my current responsibilities to the city, to the city that I love,” she said. "It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time focused on the city's future, not my own."
Rawlings-Blake, 45, once seemed a lock for re-election, but political observers said that her performance after the riots made it less likely.
In May, she went on NBC's "Meet the Press" and said she had chosen the wrong phrase when she said, on April 25, that it was important for police to give space to "those who wished to destroy."
"I certainly used the wrong phrase to talk about what was clear," she said, "that there were people who took advantage of the peaceful demonstrators' First Amendment rights and they used it to destroy our city."
The city announced earlier this week that it was settling with Gray's family for $6.4 million.
The mayor said the payment was meant to avoid "costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages."
In June, Rawlings-Blake fired the police commissioner, Anthony Batts, saying that his department was bogged down in internal politics and not focusing enough on stemming a surge in shootings and killings.
Rawlings-Blake became mayor in 2010 when her predecessor was convicted of embezzlement.