About 620,000 people now live in Baltimore City, but it once had a population of nearly 1 million. Though it is unlikely to approach that again, it can certainly handle a substantial share of the new households expected to move to the area, at a much lower cost than the suburban counties can. It would make sense for county executives to get behind Gov. Martin O'Malley's PlanMaryland effort, which would help improve the economic conditions for redevelopment. It might even be time for them to consider greater regionalization of some services.
But even if the goal of 10,000 more families in Baltimore isn't one that the mayor can achieve on her own, it is also an endeavor that cannot succeed without her strong leadership. So far, Mayor Rawlings-Blake has cultivated an aura of quiet competence, and that will certainly be necessary in the years ahead. But so will the presence of a highly visible, outgoing leader whom the city and region can identify with and rally behind. Ms. Rawlings-Blake is asking 10,000 more families to make a bet on the city's future, and for that to work she needs to convince them that she is taking Baltimore in a new direction. It's been a dozen years since a mayor gave this city a real shake-up. It's time for Ms. Rawlings-Blake to do it again.