Mayor Rawlings-Blake Delivers Inaugural Address
Tuesday Dec 6th, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake took the oath of office for an elected four year term as Baltimore’s 49th Mayor and proposed an ambitious goal to grow the City by 10,000 families over ten years, first by focusing on and investing in the “fundamental rights” of Baltimore’s families and businesses and by encouraging a renewed sense of urgency and increased civic engagement.
“Our number-one goal in the next ten years must be to grow Baltimore—strengthen our neighborhoods, create new jobs, and attract new people. That means we must do something that is counter-intuitive: grow our city at the very same time that the economy is forcing us to reduce the expense of government,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said.
“Think about it—dynamic growth at a time of fewer resources,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake continued. “That's a tough job, and government alone will not get this job done. To grow Baltimore in a time of economic uncertainty, we must use every resource that we possess as a people—government, business, our schools, our communities, our families—indeed, our culture.”
As part of her plan to grow the city, Mayor Rawlings-Blake said the city must make tough choices and prioritize continued investments in public safety, public education, infrastructure, clean streets and parks, calling them “fundamental rights” of Baltimore families and businesses. “If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” she said.
“To get Baltimore growing again, it is more important than ever for each of us to make tough choices. We must focus on the fundamentals and do them well or face the prospect of trying to do everything—most of it poorly. These are rights that we must demand for our own families, neighborhoods, and businesses—rights that government must honor and cherish and that everyone must agree to pitch in and do their part to protect.”
During a time of great economic uncertainty and diminished resources, Mayor Rawlings-Blake called upon the greater community to strengthen bonds, build social capital, and increase citizen engagement. “Citizenship is an opportunity and a duty in which everyone contributes to and benefits from a greater good,” she said. “Everyone has responsibilities in the home, at church, in the neighborhood, at school, at work, and even online through social media. We must demand accountability from government and from each other.”
“The path to growing our city is a complex web of individual actions and collective sacrifice, a steely resolve to demand better, and a potent sense of urgency to act now, knowing that the yield of these labors is not-at-all immediate, but is, by far, the most important,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said.
The full text of the Mayor’s Inaugural Address (as prepared):I come before you today with the strongest sense of humility and the most committed sense of service.
We come together because we believe that throughout history, strong and creative cities have been at the center of every great society. We believe Baltimore can grow again. We believe by working together, by fighting for this greater purpose, and by taking on the tough decisions now, we can achieve this noble yet difficult goal.
Today, Baltimore renews its spirit of self-determination. State and federal government will not do the hard work for us—in fact, sometimes they will make it harder. It is now in our hands to build a future that sustains us and where our children inherit a City that is stronger than we found it.
We are not strangers to the challenges we must overcome to grow our population—safer neighborhoods, better education, and more job opportunities. Nor should we act as strangers to one another when, in reality, we are all in this together; we all want the same for our City. From today forward, there’s no "us versus them"—there is just us: one city with one future.
Our number-one goal in the next ten years must be to grow Baltimore—strengthen our neighborhoods, create new jobs, and attract new people. This means we must do something that is counter-intuitive—grow our city at the very same time that the economy is forcing us to reduce the expense of government.
Think about it—dynamic growth at a time of fewer resources. That's a tough job, and government alone will not get this job done. To grow Baltimore in a time of economic uncertainty, we must use every resource that we possess as a people—government, business, our schools, our communities, our families—indeed, our culture.
Together, we can succeed in this new mission. But apart and divided, we will surely fail.
Because we must succeed, we reject the tired, old rhetoric that government cannot and should not help—that it is easier to just give up. We can also agree that spending more on a government program and solving a problem are not necessarily the same.
The path to growing our city is a complex web of individual actions and collective sacrifice, a steely resolve to demand better, and a potent sense of urgency to act now, knowing that the yield of these labors is not-at-all immediate, but is, by far, the most important.This is a new way of thinking for some of us. It will require a great leap forward in renewed faith and trust, but this is how we begin together to grow Baltimore again—and we can get to work right now.
I see a city of hopeful and progressive people who reject the politics of small versus big government and instead choose the promise of a stronger society—this is our future together.
I see a city willing to make contributions and sacrifices to adapt to a changing economic normal; confronting old fears and the forces that peddle them; and choosing what's best in the long run—this is our future together.I see a city where over the span of a decade, ten thousand more families choose to live in Baltimore; where more businesses choose to invest, and we are made stronger because of it—this is our future together. Yes, we can grow Baltimore again. It is not only an aspiration but a necessity for simple survival. A shrinking city is a place unable to meet even the most basic needs of its people—basic rights that everyone should expect. Join the cause for growing our city and you are joining the cause to fight for the rights of a stronger society—
- The right for families to feel safe and secure in our neighborhoods and homes, because it has always been a duty of government to invest in public safety and enforce laws, while it is the parents’ solemn duty to teach our kids to respect them.
- The right for children to receive a good public education in quality school buildings, because, as I learned from my father, public education is the great equalizer of opportunity and the way up and out of poverty; it is the most prudent investment in our future.
- The right for families to walk on clean streets and in well-maintained parks and green spaces, because we believe each person must take responsibility for the home, while government and the community are collectively accountable for our public spaces.
- The right for neighborhoods and businesses to have public improvements in order to grow and create jobs, because these infrastructure investments must be safe and move people and goods to provide a foundation for prosperity.
The sad truth is that too many good families and businesses left our city because our government and our society, together, worked too slowly to achieve these rights or spent scarce resources on other things—all while the property taxes intended to pay for them became a greater burden.
If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Here is the absolute truth, to get Baltimore growing again, it is more important than ever for each of us to make tough choices.
We must focus on the fundamentals and do them well or face the prospect of trying to do everything—most of it poorly.
Government alone cannot deliver each and every one of these rights. These are rights that we must demand for our own families, neighborhoods, and businesses rights that government must honor and cherish and that everyone must agree to pitch in and do their part to protect.
There is no greater example of this than the individual and collective actions of my parents’ generation and the great generation of civil rights leaders. Unwilling to wait for government to give them the right to vote, to live where they wanted, or to receive an education, men and women took to the streets.
For them “the word ‘wait’ almost always meant ‘never.’” Their sense of urgency and collective sacrifice for a greater purpose empowered individuals like my father to become a mathematician and my mother to become a physician. We must now draw on that example of collective action and individual determination as we fight for the fundamental rights of Baltimore’s future.
"Citizenship is not a transaction" where you pay taxes, sit back, and expect everything to just get better on its own. Citizenship is an opportunity and a duty in which everyone contributes to and benefits from a greater good. Everyone has responsibilities in the home, at church, in the neighborhood, at school, at work, and even online through social media. We must demand accountability from government and from each other. When we come together with a collective spirit of urgency, our people and businesses, empowered by self-determination, will transform our city.
We will focus our efforts to pay for these rights and resolve to make tough calls to keep Baltimore on track to a better and stronger future. We won't allow loud special interests to shout down these priorities at the expense of the greater good. And we won't give in or abandon the rights of the quiet family. We will do all of this to grow our city again, and we will never give up.
With great suspicion of the status quo, we will work to methodically tear down barriers and overcome the obstacles to getting Baltimore growing again. Our healthy skepticism of government will not obscure or diminish real progress reducing crime and improving our schools. We will demand accountability from everyone, individuals and organizations alike, both public and private. By demanding accountability, we will restore hope and defeat our own cynicism.
When something is wrong, in the government or in the community—we will say so.
When something is broken—we will fix it.
When something works—we show we believe in it by making it stronger.
In these difficult economic times, we will be both tough and creative. We will do things differently, smarter, and together. That means investing more in what’s important by reducing spending on the less important—and having the courage to acknowledge the difference.
In the end, we understand the nobility and necessity of this cause. A shrinking city simply cannot stand, but a growing city is the center of a creative and stronger society. This work is the urgent work before us. It begins in earnest today—right now, Baltimore. We can make it happen.Thank you.