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President Nick Mosby, Five New Members Sworn Into City Council

Emily Sullivan/WYPR

City Council President Nick Mosby and a roster of new city council members were sworn into the legislative body in outdoor, socially-distanced ceremonies Thursday morning, capping off Baltimore City Hall’s 2020 transition.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the new legislators took their oaths in the War Memorial Plaza outside City Hall. Donning masks, and with six feet of distance between them, Mayor Brandon Scott swore in Mosby.

“I understand the importance of this moment,” Mosby said in his inaugural address, as five new members of the council stood behind him. “Problems have solutions. And you elected us to be your problem solvers.”

He recounted Baltimore’s 1910 enactment of the nation's first racial zoning law and infamous 1937 redlining map that color-coded neighborhoods by risk factors for residential mortgage lenders. Both led to enduring economic, educational and health stratifications for Black Baltimoreans.

“Many of the afflictions we deal with today were created through policy,” Mosby said. “We can change this daunting reality for so many Baltimoreans, but it's going to take a vision. It's going to take collaboration. It's going to take evidence based solutions and a sense of optimism that will allow us, the legislative body, to address some of the most pressing systemic and fundamental problems of our time.”

Policy can no longer be the disease of Baltimore, Mosby said, but the prescription.

Mosby represented District 7, encompassing parts of West and Central Baltimore, in the council from 2011 to 2016. He left the council to pursue an ultimately unsuccessful bid for mayor and subsequently won election to the Maryland House of Delegates, where he represented West, Central and South Baltimore from 2017 until Tuesday. He was previously an electrical engineer.

He is married to Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney. They live in Reservoir Hill with their two young daughters.

In a news conference after his speech, Mosby addressed his effort to add nine positions to his new office, including fiscal and equity analyst roles. Scott has said he opposes the attempt, which comes as other city agencies have had to lay off blue collar workers.

Credit Emily Sullivan/WYPR
Councilwoman Odette Ramos signs the city register as Mayor Scott, left, and City Council President Nick Mosby, far right, look on.

“Every single bill in Annapolis receives a fiscal note, and that's not the case here in the city of Baltimore,” Mosby said, adding it would be “fiscally irresponsible” not to have such positions. “That's why I'm calling on it. It pays for itself.”

The city does have fiscal analysts who examine bills in the Office of Council Services. They provide analysis of some, but not all, proposed legislation.

After Mosby’s ceremony, Scott swore in the council’s six new members: Mark Conway of District 4 replaces Comptroller Bill Henry, James Torrence replaces Leon F. Pinkett, III in District 7 and Phylicia Porter replaces Ed Reisinger in District 10,  Antonio Glover replaces Shannon Sneed in District 13 and Odette Ramos replaces Mary Pat Clark in District 14.

Ramos has made history as the first Latina to serve on the council.

Incumbents Zeke Cohen of District 1, Danielle McCray of District 2, Ryan Dorsey of District 3, Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer of District 5, Sharon Green Middleton of District 6, Kristerfer Burnett of District 8, John Bullock of District 9, Eric Costello of District 11 and Robert Stokes of District 12 returned to the council this season. Scott administered their swearing-ins in two groups on the steps of the War Memorial Building.

Credit Emily Sullivan/WYPR
From left to right: incumbent council members John Bullock, Kristerfer Burnett, Sharon Green Middleton, Eric Costello and Robert Stokes are sworn in by Mayor Brandon Scott on the steps of the War Memorial Building.

After the council members took their oaths, they headed to a small courtyard next to the building where they signed the city register, as required by law. Each member was given a fresh pen.

Mosby will chair the first meeting of the new council Thursday evening.

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.