Baltimore City Council Decides Not to Give Itself More Power

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Bernard C. "Jack" Young
Bernard C. “Jack” Young

Along with whether someone is fit to lead and the city’s future trajectory, Baltimore’s mayoral election is important because of the city’s “strong mayor” system that keeps the chief executive in control of a lot of spending. Alongside the mayoral election, the City Council passed a couple of motions to take some of the money decision out of the mayor’s office. But in the end they didn’t complete the power play.

The bills would have:

  • Removed the members of the mayor’s administration, including the city solicitor and public works director, from the Board of Estimates. This would leave three members: The mayor, City Council President and City Comptroller, all of whom are elected.
  • Given the City Council the power to up spending in mayoral budgets.

With Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young backing the effort, the Council passed the bills initially, but they were vetoed by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. That set up a vote on Monday where the Council could have voted to override the vetoes. But in the end, the override failed.


While nothing changes in the end, it was a look at different branches of government limiting each other, even when the question was how they should limit each other. The strong mayor’s force was even felt when the council had their own vote, as politicians opted to deny more power when it was within reach.

As Young put it to City Paper, “We get an opportunity to stand up, and we sit down!”


Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.

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