I don't think it is too early to say that Rawlings-Blake is a strong mayor. Her victories are mounting:
She beat back several challengers in the ; she peacefully dismantled the movement protest at McKeldin Square, unlike other big cities mayors who suffered sometimes headline grabbing confrontations between protesters and police; she brought to life the and has now resurrected the ailing event, not once, but twice, in the same year; and despite a strong protest, her budget is set to pass the City Council.
Now, I am not saying that I agree with all her decisions. But that isn't the point. The point is that she has the gumption to make things happen, and without a lot of public posturing or grandstanding.
Can you imagine what this woman could accomplish if she actually had a grand vision for the City of Baltimore and applied a little grandstanding? Therein lies the rub. I still contend that Rawlings-Blake lacks fire in the belly. She has no grand vision. As I said before, she is managing the continued decline of Baltimore very well. She just doesn't have the "vision thing".
Yes, the Mayor has the worthy goal of attracting 10,000 new families to the city by the end of this decade. But she hasn't actually done anything of significance that will help achieve her goal. The property tax will be slightly lowered in the coming fiscal year, but not enough that will make people give Baltimore a second look as a place to live, especially with the recent sensationalized headlines about the roaming the Inner Harbor.
I am sure the Mayor will continue to rack up small victories again and again, and she will probably continue her march forward, with as little fanfare as possible. That is her style.
I think the Mayor needs to find a project or a goal that excites people all across the region, not just in Baltimore City. And she needs to promote it with some good old fashioned public posturing and mayoral grandstanding. She needs to be out front of a parade celebrating an issue of her creation, and preferably, she needs to be wearing a funny hat. People like their mayor putting herself out on the line for the good of the city.
If Mayor Rawlings-Blake can get a handle on the "vision thing," if she can somehow ignite a fire in her belly, she could go from being a strong mayor to becoming a great mayor, no sweat. This woman has "it".