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Politicsby Fern Shen7:35 pmMay 6, 20190

It’s unanimous: City Council names Brandon Scott its president

Longtime Council stalwarts Mary Pat Clarke and Ed Reisinger announce they won’t be seeking reelection in 2020

Above: Brandon Scott will fill in as Baltimore’s City Council president until December 2020. (Fern Shen)

Councilman Brandon M. Scott, who has made no secret of his ambition to become Baltimore’s mayor, got a prime launchpad this evening when his colleagues unanimously named him City Council president.

In brief remarks after the vote, Scott thanked those who helped him rise from a staffer to then-City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to the second highest elected office in city government.

“You have prepared this young boy from Park Heights to be ready for the responsibility of this role,” the 35-year-old Scott said.

Scott also made reference to the reason for his sudden elevation: He’s filling the vacancy created when City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young became mayor last Thursday following the resignation of Mayor Catherine Pugh.

“We’ve had some dark days,” Scott said, almost an understatement considering what has just transpired.

Last month, federal investigators from the IRS and FBI raided City Hall, Pugh’s two homes and other locations after she acknowledged receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in unreported sales of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books from companies and individuals with business before the city and state.

After a bizarre press conference in which she displayed baby clothing she had planned to market along with the books, Pugh went into seclusion for more than four weeks before she called it quits.

Young is scheduled to be officially sworn in as Baltimore’s 51st mayor at a 2 p.m. ceremony on Thursday. The event will be held at the War Memorial Building opposite City Hall.

Sharon Green Middleton will resume her role as the Council’s vice president. Until tonight, Middleton had been serving as acting president.

Clarke and Reisinger to Retire

Also today: Two veteran members, Mary Pat Clarke and Edward Reisinger, announced that they will not be running for re-election in 2020.

Clarke’s announcement ends five decades of serving on the body. She was elected to the Council from 1975 to 1983 and served as the first woman president between 1987 and 1995.

After an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 1995, she returned to teaching, coming back to the Council in 2004, where she has represented the 14th District in North Baltimore.

In her long career, Clarke was not only known for energetically delivering services to her constituents but for championing various progressive causes, such as the $15 minimum wage vetoed by Pugh in 2017.

“The time is right for a new generation to assume leadership and responsibility in our crucial corner of the city,” Clarke, 77, wrote in an email announcing her decision.

It was Clarke who introduced the motion tonight for Scott to be named Council president, which she did by telling the story of his precocious start as a City Hall staffer.

“He learned all the ropes of city government,” she said.

The 10th District’s Reisinger, who has represented his south and southwest constituents for over 25 years, also said he was calling it quits after his current term concludes in December 2020.

“I talked to my wife and my family and friends, that I wasn’t going to run for 2020,” the 69-year-old told Baltimore Fishbowl. “I feel great healthwise. I just want to spend time with my family.”

Reisinger gained some late-career prominence with the bill he successfully sponsored to limit emissions from two South Baltimore incinerators.

“Ed had not been known for taking a position on this kind of issue historically so it was kind of surprising,” said United Workers organizer Greg Sawtell. “But he really turned out to be a very strong advocate for the incinerator bill.”

Public Safety Focus

For Scott, the jump to the Council president’s office is not his first opportunity to get a high-visibility gig ahead of a 2020 mayoral run.

Last year he ran in the Democratic primary as a candidate for lieutenant governor on a ticket with attorney Jim Shea.

Representing northeast’s 2nd District since 2011, Scott has had a special focus on public safety, a point he stressed in his remarks tonight.

“We have to work to break the choke-hold that the disease of gun violence has on our neighborhoods,” he said.

As chairman of the Public Safety Committee, Scott has made a tradition of updating the year’s homicide toll at each Council meeting, a responsibility he has apparently bequeathed to Councilman Ryan Dorsey.

The number of murdered city residents so far this year was remembered with a moment of silence – 101.

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