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Baltimore City votes for change; elects youngest mayor and gives city council more power

PHOTOS: African American landmarks in Baltimore
Posted at 5:19 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 17:19:43-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — With the results from yesterday, some big changes are coming to Baltimore. Voters elected the youngest mayor who will lead the city through a transition of reshaping power dynamics and restoring trust in city government with newly-passed charter amendments.

"Baltimore is saying they want change and that they believe in the next generation of Baltimore," said Mayor-elect Brandon Scott.

Scott said he’s ready to assume the position, the challenge of leading the city in a new way, with several charter amendments passing that give the city council more power, more checks and balances on the mayor, to correct the imbalance of power in city government.

"We’re gonna be excited about meeting a challenge to work with the council in a way that no mayor has. Clearly the voters also voted with the understanding that the way be had been operating hadn’t been working either," said Scott.

The power imbalance really came to light with former Mayor Catherine Pugh’s 'Healthy Holly' book scandal.

"Where the council was getting pressure to remove her from office and we couldn’t do that. We have to have that balance," said Scott.

One amendment passed gives the council the ability to remove officials, including the council president, mayor or comptroller, by a three-fourths vote.

Baltimore City residents also voted to create a city administrator position to work alongside the mayor and oversee the day-to-day operations of city government.

"This is not giving away the mayor’s power. The mayor hires this person. The mayor fires this person. But what this ends is the days where people would hire their friends or family or someone who is not really qualified to run a $3.5 billion dollar entity and allow them to do that," said Scott.

Another amendment gives the council more power over the budget by allowing them to increase spending within the city’s general fund or add new spending items, instead of just identifying cuts. Scott said he supported all the amendments as city council president, and voted in favor of all of them on his ballot.

"Any time you’re talking about collaborative work, it can be better for the citizens we represent," said Scott.

He’ll be sworn in Dec. 8 and his first two orders of business: putting together a comprehensive approach to dealing with gun violence, and assembling a team by hiring a city administrator, a new housing commissioner and new director of public works.

"Building that best team for Baltimore so that we have the most talented, the most intelligent, the most dedicated individuals working to make Baltimore a better place each and every day," said Scott.

Other amendments will make it easier for the council to override mayoral vetoes. They will all go into effect in next month, except for the amendment to the budget process, which will go into effect in July 2022.