Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Sept. 11 announced she would not be seeking re-election. 

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announces that she will not seek re-election next year, during a news conference on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 in Baltimore.   Rawlings-Blake said she believes she could have won re-election, pointing to her work on the city’s budget and pension system. However, she said, not seeking re-election was the best decision for the city and for her family.  (Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun via AP)  WASHINGTON EXAMINER OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announces that she will not seek re-election next year, during a news conference on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 in Baltimore. Rawlings-Blake said she believes she could have won re-election, pointing to her work on the city’s budget and pension system. However, she said, not seeking re-election was the best decision for the city and for her family. (Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun via AP) WASHINGTON EXAMINER OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

The move comes after Rawlings-Blake suffered waves of criticism for her handling of the aftermath of the Freddie Gray case earlier this year. In April, Gray died in police custody, prompting rioting, protests and violence. Baltimore’s homicide rate has also risen drastically this year. In 2014 there were a total of  211 murders. As of Sept. 11 there were 229.

Rawlings-Blake, who began fundraising for re-election earlier this year, said at a news conference that she will instead focus on making sure the city is prepared for the outcome of the upcoming trials of the six officers in the Freddie Gray case. Earlier this week the city settled with family of Freddie Gray for $6.4 million.

In addition, Judge Barry Williams, who will preside over the trials, ruled that the proceedings would stay in Baltimore and not be moved to another location. He also ruled that the six officers would be tried separately instead of together.

The race for mayor, which will be essentially be decided by the Democratic primary in April, has gotten crowded in recent weeks. Candidates so far include former mayor Sheila Dixon, state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, City Councilman Carl Stokes, engineer and Baltimore resident Calvin Allen Young, as well as several others. In addition, Wes Moore, author of the New York Times bestseller The Other Wes Moore, is rumored to be considering entering the race.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announces that she will not seek re-election next year, during a news conference on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 in Baltimore. Rawlings-Blake said she believes she could have won re-election, pointing to her work on the city’s budget and pension system. However, she said, not seeking re-election was the best decision for the city and for her family. (Kenneth K. Lam/The Baltimore Sun via AP) WASHINGTON EXAMINER OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT

At the news conference Rawlings-Blake said, “It was a very difficult decision, but I knew that I needed to spend time – the remaining 15 months of my term – focused on the city’s future and not my own.

“It’s not that I didn’t think I could win,” she added. “I had to ask myself the question at what cost. I believe that I could have won because there’s no other candidate who could demonstrate what I have done or what more they could do to make the city better.

“I have a track record of making the right decisions for our city’s future. That track record includes not always making what many would think is the political decision or the popular decision but is the right decision. I’ve always done what I knew would move the city forward and my record reflects that.” 

Rawlings-Blake became mayor after Sheila Dixon stepped down following her conviction on a misdemeanor fraud charge in 2010. Rawlings-Blake won re-election in 2011. Prior to that she was on the City Council, becoming its president in 2007.

In a statement released just before Rawlings-Blake took the podium Dixon said, “I commend Mayor Rawlings-Blake for her 20 years of service to the City of Baltimore. She and her family have made many sacrifices and I think she has earned the right to pursue other goals. I pray for the Rawlings-Blake family and for the people of Baltimore.”

Current Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young also offered his best wishes to his former colleague and outgoing mayor.

“I was made aware today through news reports that the mayor has decided to leave public office at the conclusion of her current term,” he said. “I’m sure her decision was reached after careful consideration. I respect her desire to spend the final 15-months of her term focusing on Baltimore’s recovery. I would like to thank the mayor for her decades of tireless service on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore.”