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Rawlings-Blake Wants Mayors To Be Heard In Next Election

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made her inaugural speech Monday, taking over as president of the US Conference of Mayors---even as some question her leadership here at home.

Mike Hellgren has more on the historic event and what it means for the city.

Historic because she's the first African-American woman, the first mayor of Baltimore to hold this leadership post---but it also comes at a time of great challenges for her and the city.

Baltimore was front and center in Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's first speech after taking over as president of the US Conference of Mayors. The group bills itself as the voice of America's mayors in Washington.

For the past four days, she's been on stage in San Francisco with top Democrats.

"We're all proud of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake," said Nancy Pelosi.

But while she's getting applause in California, nine people have been shot over those same four days back in Baltimore---and Annette Williams, who lives in the neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested, isn't confident in the mayor's ability to stop the violence.

"I don't think she should be doing anything else. They need to get somebody else in office to run Baltimore better," Williams said.

Yet the mayor says this new position has already increased her influence.

"When we did have this unrest, I got a call from the president; I got a call from his leadership team," she said.

She also took a swipe at former mayor Sheila Dixon, who could be a stiff opponent if she decides to run next year.

"When I took over as mayor, Baltimore was in crisis. Nobody was looking for the previous mayor to be in leadership here or anywhere," she said.

In her new position, the mayor is pressing for all presidential candidates to sign the Baltimore Compact to fight poverty and problems that led to riots after the death of Freddie Gray.

"We have a unique opportunity after the unrest with the eyes of the world on us to decide how we're going to show up," she said.

Her term to lead the mayoral conference will last one year.

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