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Brandon Scott Is Elected City Council President After City Hall Leadership Upheaval

Baltimore City Hall

City Councilman Brandon Scott has been unanimously elected as Council President by his colleagues after four days of leadership upheaval following the resignation of Mayor Catherine Pugh.

Scott and Sharon Green Middleton, the council vice president who had been filling in as president, had been tied in colleagues’ pledges for votes over the weekend, until Scott own over a few more members, including veteran councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

"We wanted to have a unanimous vote to show unity," Clarke, who nominated Scott for president on Monday, said. "Brandon is a good guy." 

The chain of events was set up when Pugh resigned under pressure after reports of her Healthy Holly book deals surfaced and former City Council City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young dropped the “ex officio” from his title and officially became mayor.

At that point, the council president role was anyone’s for the taking. 

Scott, a second term councilman, won the vote Monday night and was sworn in by Mayor Young.

The new city council president said he will focus on battling gun violence, improving schools and restoring trust in Baltimore city government throughout his term, which will run through December 2020.

“I have known President Scott for more than a decade, and I am confident that he will serve the citizens of Baltimore to the best of his abilities,” said Mayor Young. “In President Scott, Baltimore gains a dedicated public servant who will use the legislative process to move our city forward.”

Scott’s council peers joined the mayor in congratulating him.

"We've got two great guys as mayor and president, with lots of experience between them," Clarke said. 

Scott, 35, grew up in Park Heights and graduated from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. He received a degree in political science from St. Mary’s College and entered Baltimore politics as an aid of then-City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Scott was first elected to the council at age 27 and heads the Public Safety Committee.

The council is to elect a replacement to represent Scott’s second district.

Scott is expected to run for mayor in 2020, which would leave the council president’s seat open and set off another round of leadership upheaval in the city.

Clarke, 77, announced she will not run for re-election to her 14th district seat. "I had been thinking about it for a long time," the longtime politician told WYPR on Tuesday. "I really believe it's time for a new generation to help the council and the 14th district do good work." 

"And anyone who wants to run for my seat had better start now," she added.

Councilman Edward Reisinger, of the 10th district, has also said he will not seek re-election. Meanwhile, Councilman Bill Henry, of the 4th district, is to launch a campaign for Baltimore City Comptroller next month.  Mayor Young has said he doesn’t want to remain Mayor past this term and most likely will run for his old job as City Council President.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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