By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
East Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott earned unanimous support from his colleagues on May 6, to become president of the city’s legislative body.
The vote came shortly after his sole opponent, Council Vice President Sharon Green Middleton, threw her support behind Scott.
“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,” Scott said.
“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.”
The elevation of Scott was prompted by a chain of events that began with the resignation of Mayor Catherine Pugh last week.
Prior to her officially leaving office, Pugh had taken an indefinite leave of absence. Then Council President Jack Young became “ex-officio” mayor, an ostensibly temporary hold on the city’s highest job, which became permanent with Pugh’s exit and prompted a vote to select a new council president.
Young voiced support for Scott shortly after the vote was announced.
“I join the entire city of Baltimore in congratulating Brandon M. Scott on being elected by his peers to serve as the next president of the Baltimore City Council,” Young said in a written statement.
“I have known President Scott for more than a decade, and I am confident that he will serve the citizens of Baltimore to the best of his abilities.”
Scott’s ascension marks a major step for the 35-year old who was serving his second term representing the city’s second district, and whose ambition for higher office has been no secret.
Scott has played a highly visible role in the city’s debate over how to both fight crime and reform a troubled police department currently under federal consent decree.
As the chairman of the city’s Public Safety Committee, Scott instituted monthly updates from the department to tamp down on overtime spending and to give the council more input on crime fighting tactics. He also played an instrumental role in vetting potential candidates for police commissioner, traveling to Ft. Worth, Tx., with a council delegation to speak to community members about then chief Joel Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald ultimately decided to stay in Ft. Worth.
Scott also led a major push in Annapolis to restore local control of the police department, which is currently a state agency. While the effort ultimately languished in the Senate, Scott’s effort earned praise for maneuvering the bill through a tricky political landscape in Annapolis.
Scott has also been one of the foremost advocates of civilian oversight of police, proposing a board comprised of residents that would be responsible for hiring the city’s police chief.
Along with his high-profile chairmanship of the council’s public safety committee, Scott has been outspoken on the issue of policing strategy for years. In 2017 Scott and his fellow committee members released their own crime plan called “Live to Bmore,” a comprehensive blueprint for reducing violence that called for a crackdown on truancy, increasing job training, and focus on guns and repeat violent offenders.
In 2018 Scott ran for Lieutenant Governor with Baltimore Democrat James Shea. Shea finished a distant third in the primary behind Ben Jealous.