Text of O'Malley's statement
June 5, 2002
Good morning, everybody -- afternoon, I should say. Thank you all very
much for being here. I want to especially thank Attorney General Curran,
the only elected official in Maryland to
be with me in every single race I've ever made, and others who've been able to be here. I want to thank you all for coming.
Two and a half short years ago, the people of Baltimore moved beyond
the divisions of race and class and place, and we began to believe in each
other once again. We voted for change
and reform, and we came together and dedicated ourselves to the most fundamental issue of social justice: public safety.
Together with Council President Dixon's leadership in the City Council,
we found hope, we overcame our fears, we recovered from our early stumbles,
and soon felt the momentum that
only comes from achieving real, nation-leading results.
No longer the most violent and addicted city in America, Baltimore now
leads the nation in the rate of reduction of violent crime, and Baltimore
leads the nation in the rate of reduction of
drug-related emergency-room admissions. The average sales price of our homes has jumped from $69,000 to $90,000 in just two years.
After a decade of always losing jobs -- 11 straight years of job loss
-- we've come off with two years in a row of positive job growth. Our first-graders
are scoring above the national
average in reading and math for the first time in 30 years. And the highest scoring fifth-grade math class in the entire state of Maryland: none other than the 100 percent public school,
100 percent proud African-American kids of our own Mount Royal Elementary School. And Baltimore's CitiStat Program has become a welcomed beacon of progress for those committed
to unleashing the boundless potential in all of America's cities.
And against that backdrop, ladies and gentlemen, came a vacuum of leadership
in the Democratic Party, the state Democratic Party, this year's race for
governor, and the most difficult
political decision of my life. And it was difficult for a number of reasons.
It was difficult for me because it is counter to my nature to back down
from a tough fight -- especially when so much is at stake. It was difficult
because my party is adrift. It was difficult
because the pursuit of justice has in recent years too often taken a back seat to the pursuit of accumulation of power. It was difficult because so much of our future progress as a people,
as a people, depends on the relationship of our city and state.
Crime reduction, drug treatment, mass transit, roads, schools, jobs,
homeland defense -- so much depends on Maryland being well-governed and
effectively governed, and so much
depends on Maryland's next governor believing in Baltimore. And that's why this has been so difficult, and that's why it's taken me so long.
How our wealthy state with its growing poverty rate solves its billion-dollar
budget problems will most definitely impact the future of our city and
region. Passing the problem on to local
government or the poor cannot be an option. Whether we continue to divert welfare savings from long overdue investments in our state's work force and child-development needs will
most definitely affect this city, this region and this state our children inherit.
Our city's need for growth and our state's desire for smart growth should
be one and the same agenda, but sadly, too often they are not. Whether
the state reinvests in the mass transit
and roads needs of this end of the state will definitely impact the economic future of our city and region.
And all of us, all of us, as thinking, caring citizens of this state and this country have a responsibility to speak out and to demand more principled leadership on these critical issues.
Over the last two years, when people have approached me on the street
and have complimented me or encouraged me for the job that we're doing,
I often tell them that I'm just the front
man for a much bigger organization and much larger movement. But the reason that so many have looked to me to fill the vacuum of leadership in this governor's race is also the very
reason that I can't run.
Being mayor of Baltimore is an important part of what the people of
this city and their government are doing together. It's about leadership,
it's about progress, it's about belief in
ourselves, and it's about achieving results. Lasting change and true reform require time, patience, perseverance and leadership.
My good friend Paul Levin, who knew me like a book, told me before his
death last week, "Your problem, Martin, is you're drawn to the tough fights,
to the toughest fights. But now,
serving Baltimore is the tougher of the two fights you weigh."
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I was not promised financial
or political support in the future in return for not running. And those
of you who know me know that. This decision
was made in consultation with the people I serve, the people that all of us serve, the people of Baltimore. I'm very grateful to my many friends and supporters who allowed me to make this
decision from a position of strength and independence. In the final analysis, folks, this decision, my decision, had a lot more to do with governing than it did with politics.
In truth, the risk of losing this particular race was really not something
that intimidated me. It was the risk of leaving this great city's turnaround
only half begun. In the final battle
between head and heart, my conscience just wouldn't allow me to take the risk that the hard work and sacrifices of these last two and a half sometimes very painful years, though
powerfully productive years, that those sacrifices and that hard work might have been in vain.
I've carried a lot of water for this donkey, and I will be supporting
the Democratic nominee in the fall. Whether that nominee supports the people
of Baltimore and the Baltimore
metropolitan region is a decision they will have to make.
All of us, all of us -- the cabinet members who are all here, citizens,
business leaders and clergy members -- have a responsibility for Baltimore's
turnaround. And I too have a
responsibility, a very personally felt responsibility to the people of this city. And that responsibility right now, in these important times, is more important than politics or career or title or
even the very substantial and important power of our state's government or the yacht or the house.
There is no tougher fight, and no more noble cause, than the turnaround
of a great American city. This is going to be a tremendous decade, folks,
for Baltimore. I see our city becoming
the safest big city in America. I see a city that becomes a national example of what can happen when people move beyond race and class and place and start to believe in their neighbors
again. I see a city where minority business development is not a grudging obligation, but a living affirmation of the universal benefit of expanding opportunity.
I see a city freed of the chains of drugs and drug addiction and drug
violence. I see a city where the entire criminal justice system, including
state and federal prosecutors, work together
to end America's worst epidemic of youth violence for the sake of Baltimore's next generation, for young people like Rio-Jarell Tatum and Clyde Martin and others like them. I see a city
where our children are safe, a city where our children are loved and where children are raised to love. We're not there yet, but we are getting there.
And as we continue this very important work together, and as Katie and
I await the arrival of our new son, as we continue this work together,
I look forward and I believe, I believe in
Baltimore -- the greatest city in America.
Thank you all very much.
Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun