Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who did not publicly back either candidate, congratulated Bernstein and thanked Jessamy for her service. She said in a statement that she looks "forward to working with the state's attorney's office and our partners in law enforcement to improve public safety for the citizens of Baltimore."
Gov. Martin O'Malley, whose relationship with Jessamy has been strained through the years dating to his time as mayor, acknowledged that she "put everything she had into that job."
Jessamy said her office "put an imprint on the country" through programs and legislation designed to fight witness intimidation, gangs and guns.
"We've laid the foundation for a lot of positive things to happen," she said, and challenged dissatisfied residents to join her in actively trying to make Baltimore better.
She told a story about her grandfather, a sharecropper turned entrepreneur, whose words of advice she has carried for years. When things happen to you in life, he told her, don't let them make you bitter. Let them make you better.
"And that's how I live my life," Jessamy said. "There is no bitterness in me. I am better … and I will continue to serve."
Baltimore Sun reporters Peter Hermann and Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.
Bernstein victory statement
Almost everyone said that we didn't have a chance, that the political establishment would not allow us to succeed, that racial politics would trump a frank discussion of the issues and the need for change.
But the results show that we attracted a broad base of support across the city because people of all ages, races and economic groups were ready for a change, and were ready for a fresh approach to tackling the chronic violence in Baltimore's neighborhoods.
Now people may say that I'm naive, but I've always believed that public safety transcends politics, that it transcends race, my election proves we were right.
Our win comes thanks to each and every one of you who voted for me. But all the hard work, all the long hours we put in during Baltimore's hottest summer on record, all that was the easy part. The tough part, making Baltimore safe, starts now.
I ran to make a difference and that difference begins by working together with my criminal justice partners to make good cases against bad people. To make what already works better, and to find new solutions to things that aren't working, to challenge the status quo in which our criminal justice is gamed by the violent people who plague our neighborhoods, and to do these things with transparency and accountability to the citizens of Baltimore, each and every one of you who it is our duty to protect.
This is going to be tough, and it's not going to happen overnight.
First, we all need to learn to work, together, all of us. Prosecutors, police, probation officers, judges, even defense lawyers and perhaps most importantly you the citizens of Baltimore to make our criminal justice system work better.
For we're all part of a process just trying to get to yes, and the system works best when we work together to get to a just result, work together to reach a resolution that satisfies all parties and in the end best serves the interest of justice and public safety. … To everyone in Baltimore, I pledge that I will do my best to fairly administer the powers of my office, to exercise discretion and to make, in the end, Baltimore a safer place.