Council members and observers applaud at City Hall after Brandon Scott is elected council president. Screenshot via Charm TV.

With Bernard C. “Jack” Young now in the mayor’s office following Catherine Pugh’s resignation last week, council members today voted in Brandon Scott (2nd District) to replace him as city council president until the present term ends in December of 2020.

Scott, who is also weighing a run for mayor, thanked his colleagues following their unanimous vote, saying he is “deeply honored and humbled by the confidence you have placed in me to lead this body.”

“To the people of Baltimore: I never expected to be here, but you have helped prepare this kid from Park Heights to be ready for the responsibility of this position,” he said in an address. “I do not take the honor of holding this important office lightly, and you can rest assured that I will carry out my duties with the utmost integrity and respect for all.”

He continued: “We’ve had some dark days. However, the passion and hope of all of us working together, will continue to lift us into the light. We will never quit even in the face of tremendous pressure and seemingly insurmountable odds. I hope that you will continue to keep me and the city in prayer as we work towards better days.”

And so continues the game of musical chairs with leadership at City Hall in the wake of Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” scandal, which prompted her resignation and multiple investigations, coinciding with a federal probe in which federal authorities raided Pugh’s homes, offices and other buildings around the city last month.

Young, who’d served as council president since 2010, is now in the mayor’s office through most of next year; Sharon Green Middleton, of the 6th District, took over as council president in his stead, and will now return to her former role of council vice president; and the council must now pick a registered voter from Scott’s Northeast Baltimore district to fill in for him.

Mary Pat Clarke (14th District) formally nominated Scott for the position helming the council, while also thanking Middleton for filling in for Young. “It’s awfully good to see a woman sitting there, and one who so ably and confidently has taken us through this passage to our future. Thank you for that.”

Middleton, who until today had tied Scott for votes among fellow council members and was seeking to remain council president, congratulated him on the floor. “I wish him all the best in moving the business of the city council forward and making Baltimore the gem we all know it has the potential to be,” she said, adding shortly thereafter: “We are committed to your success. If you are successful, we as a body are successful, and our entire city will be successful.”

Scott took office in 2011, and has become an outspoken voice on the council as chair of the Public Safety Committee, scheduling regular hearings for updates from police on the fight against crime, internal reforms and more.

Scott has not announced a mayoral run for next year, but told The Sun in January that he was “assessing whether my candidacy is best for our city.” He had a little under $150,000 in campaign cash at the time, including some funds left over from his lieutenant gubernatorial bid from 2018, when he ran on the ticket of local attorney Jim Shea.

The appointment of Scott, 35, to the helm of the council comes the same day that the council’s longest-serving members, Clarke and Ed Reisinger (10th District) said they both plan to retire instead of seeking re-election.

Reisinger, who said he had initially opposed Scott’s candidacy for council president because he worried the mayoral race would be a distraction, today explained he changed his mind. “I have all the confidence with Brandon. He’s young, he’s dedicated.”

Clarke was optimistic when voicing her support for Scott on the council floor today, assuring he’ll be “carrying the next generation and all of us old folks too into a good future for us all.”

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...