A week after his predecessor resigned amid corruption investigations, Bernard “Jack” Young formally became Baltimore’s mayor Thursday at a swearing-in ceremony in which he praised the resiliency of residents and promised to address some of the city’s chronic problems.
The Democrat and longtime City Council member inherits a city with failing schools, a thriving illegal drug market and one of the nation’s highest rates of violent crime.
“I don’t know nobody else that is more resilient than Baltimore,” Young said, adding later that he can’t reduce crime by himself, “but it takes all of us, every last person in this room, who are citizens of Baltimore.”
Young became Baltimore’s interim leader in early April, when then-Mayor Catherine Pugh took a leave for what her lawyer described as poor health after a bout of pneumonia. He automatically became the permanent mayor when she resigned May 2.
Pugh is facing investigations into whether she arranged bulk sales of her self-published children’s books to disguise hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks.
A week before she resigned, FBI and IRS agents raided her offices, homes and other locations and seized several items, including money transfer receipts, a laptop, compact discs and a $100,000 check from the University of Maryland Medical System to Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” company.
Young will serve as mayor for the remainder of Pugh’s term but has said he will seek reelection next year to the job of council president. He wiped tears off his face after thanking his City Council colleagues for their support.
Although the ceremony prompted applause and standing ovations, Young now faces a decidedly less-cheerful reality. Baltimore’s latest scandal is unfolding amid the overwhelming, unmet expectations of residents in large swaths of the startlingly segregated city.
The mid-Atlantic city has seen more than 300 homicides for four years in a row. It has a crumbling infrastructure, schools with dismal proficiency levels and a beleaguered police department under federal oversight.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan pledged his “full and continued support” to Young.
“Together, we must all rededicate ourselves to addressing the violent crime crisis,” the Republican said during the ceremony. “To answering the pleas of the weary and wary residents who just want the endless shootings and the killings to stop. Together, we can build better and safer communities.”
SOURCE: REGINA GARCIA CANO, AP