Bernard C. "Jack" Young, a veteran East Baltimore councilman, was elected president of the city council by a unanimous vote Monday evening.
A 14-year member of the council who chaired the key budget and public safety committees, Young, 55, fills the seat vacated by Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake who was sworn-in as mayor following Sheila Dixon's resignation last week.
"I will never forget that I work for you, the citizens of Baltimore," said Young. "I look forward to us rolling up our sleeves and getting work done that is in the best interest of our city."
Young, known for his fiery personality and blunt pronouncements, is the highest ranking city leader in at least a decade to hail from the east side and has close ties with many influential East Baltimore leaders, including former Councilman Carl Stokes and state Sen. Nathaniel McFadden.
Councilwoman Helen Holton praised Young's commitment to "the rights of citizen, particularly those that are less advantaged, that need a voice and advocate."
The fifth of 10 children born to a forklift driver and a homemaker, Young prides himself on as being attuned to the needs of the city's poorest residents. Several of his siblings, his wife and daughters and other relatives packed into the council chambers for yesterday's meeting and cheered loudly for the new president.
Young has pledged to resign his position with the state human resources department upon becoming council president.
In one of his first acts as president, Young reconfigured several council committees. Councilwoman Belinda Conaway will replace him as budget committee chair and Councilman James Kraft, a close ally, will succeed him as public safety chair.
Councilman William H. Cole IV, who had challenged Young for the president's seat before withdrawing last week, lost his place on the land use and education committees. Young named Councilman Bill Henry to replace Cole as vice chair of the taxation and finance committee.
Although the mayor's staffers denied endorsing a candidate for president, many council members said that Rawlings-Blake's administration was privately rallying votes for Cole.
Cole, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, congratulated Young at yesterday's meeting. Motioning to his arm in a sling, he said, "There's been a lot of talking about arm-twisting.... I think I lost."
After the council vote, Rawlings-Blake administered the oath of office to Young in the mayor's ceremonial chamber, the same room where she was sworn-in last week.
The mayor told to the new president to repeat the oath after her, but as soon as she said, "I," Young jumped ahead and stated his name.
The mayor paused and smiled at Young. "We'll figure this out together," she said.