Biographical Sketch of
He entered law practice with the Baltimore firm of Piper and Marbury and, in 1977, joined President Carter's White House Domestic Policy Staff. A year later, he returned to Baltimore as an Assistant United States Attorney. Four years later, Mr. Schmoke was elected State's Attorney, the City's chief prosecuting officer.
Mr. Schmoke was first elected Mayor of Baltimore on November 3, 1987, becoming the first African American voted into that office. He has gone on to develop a reputation as one of the most innovative mayors in the nation, as demonstrated through his initiatives in such areas as literacy, education, housing, community revitalization, health, and economic development.
In his first inaugural address, Mr. Schmoke announced his intention to make Baltimore "The City That Reads." Since then, Mayor Schmoke, in partnership with Baltimore's public and private sectors, has established a cabinet-level City agency and a private foundation to fund, coordinate, and expand adult literacy programs throughout the City. He has also strongly supported educational innovation and led a successful campaign to win more state funding to boost student achievement in Baltimore's public schools through a landmark City-State partnership.
Under Mayor Schmoke, Baltimore has been a leader in the national effort to tear down dilapidated, crime-plagued high-rise public housing developments and replace them with lower density, low-rise communities that better support the healthy development of families. Mr. Schmoke's other housing initiatives include establishing the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corporation, which pools private and public resources to renovate abandoned City dwellings; and developing the Settlement Expense Loan Program, which gives home buyers up to $5,000 to meet settlement costs.
Mayor Schmoke has made Baltimore a national model for neighborhood revitalization. His community development projects include the transformation under way in the Sandtown-Winchester community in West Baltimore and the neighborhoods surrounding the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in East Baltimore. In 1994, these neighborhood revitalization efforts received a major boost when President Clinton selected Baltimore as one of only six Empowerment Zone cities in the nation. This designation brings millions in federal funds to support job development, housing, and social service projects in targeted, low-income neighborhoods, as well as tax credits and incentives for businesses located in these neighborhoods. As a result of its success in bringing jobs and businesses into the Zone, Baltimore has been recognized by the Clinton administration as a "top performer" among Empowerment Zone cities.
Believing that every crime is one crime too many, and every victim is one victim too many, Mayor Schmoke has demonstrated a strong commitment to public safety. He has improved the effectiveness of the City's Police Department; implemented community policing throughout the City; ordered successful drug and gun sweeps to stabilize neighborhoods; and is the first mayor in Baltimore to put police bike patrols on the streets and security cameras on street corners.
Since the end of the 1980s, Mr. Schmoke has supported a national drug policy that views substance abuse primarily as a public health problem, and has called for a national dialogue on this issue. He also has been a strong advocate for needle-exchange programs as a way to combat the spread of AIDS, initiating in Baltimore what is now the largest local government-sponsored needle-exchange program in the nation.
In the area of economic development, Mayor Schmoke has worked aggressively and with considerable success to attract, retain, and expand businesses in the City, especially in areas of projected job growth, such as the health sciences, tourism, and information technology. As part of his efforts to foster economic growth, he is overseeing a host of new development initiatives for Baltimore's downtown and Inner Harbor areas, leading some to speak of the City's "Second Renaissance."
In championing Baltimore's economic development, Mayor Schmoke has upheld the principle of inclusion. He has implemented policies designed to improve the participation of minority and women entrepreneurs in the economic life of the City. As a result, Baltimore was named one of the top cities for women entrepreneurs in the nation, and minorities have participated in a number of the City's major development projects.
Mayor Schmoke was elected to his third term in November 1995. On December 3, 1998, he announced that he would not seek a fourth term as Mayor of the City of Baltimore. At the time of his announcement, President Clinton issued a statement praising Mr. Schmoke for being "a wonderful partner in our efforts to improve the quality of education for all children, increase the availability of health care and housing, enhance economic development in our inner cities and revitalize our neighborhoods…" The statement concluded: "I am grateful to the Mayor for his public service to Baltimore and our nation and I look forward to making the most use of every day remaining in his current term of office to continue our work together."