Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young formally announced Monday his campaign to retain his office, backed by several city politicians who had not supported his quest for the office a little over a year ago.

"There is no other job in the world that I would rather be doing, today or for the next four years," said Young. He said he had earned the nickname the "Iron Man" of the council for having only missed five meetings during his 15 year tenure on the legislative body.

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With the deadline to enter the city races a little more than two weeks away, no well-known politicians have filed to run against Young, who was appointed council president as part of a string of shake-ups caused when Sheila Dixon resigned from the mayor's office.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake praised Young for supporting her budget and state legislation mandating tougher gun laws.

Young "shares my vision for a better, safer and stronger Baltimore," Rawlings-Blake said. "Jack is truly the captain of the team moving Baltimore forward."

"Baltimore could not ask for a better council president," said Rawlings-Blake, who was ferried over from the U.S. Conference of Mayors to speak at the rally for Young on the steps of the War Memorial Building.Yet a little more than a year ago, Rawlings-Blake backed Councilman William H. Cole IV's quest for the council president's seat, which was left open when Rawlings-Blake rose to become mayor following Dixon's resignation to settle criminal charges.

Cole also spoke on Young's behalf, saying "politics can be funny sometimes" and saying that he and Young remained friends despite the contest for the council presidency.

Sen. Catherine Pugh, one of Rawlings-Blake's leading challengers in the mayor's race, also took the stage, calling Young "a person who understands the community."

"He listens to the people," she said. "He works for and with the people."

City Councilman Carl Stokes, who has said he intends to run for mayor but has not officially filed for the office, attended the event but did not speak or join Young and other officials on-stage.

Also in the crowd was Michael Sarbanes, the city schools spokesman and son of former Sen. Paul Sarbanes, who challenged Rawlings-Blake for the council presidency in 2007.

Sarbanes praised Young's "tremendous passion" in an interview and said he had no intention in running against him.

As a group of young singers belted out a campaign jingle, another group of young people converged on a park a few yards away to protest Rawlings-Blake's $1.3 billion budget, which the council is slated to give final passage to tonight.

The protesters, members of the Safe and Sound Campaign, demand more funding for jobs and recreation for young people and criticize the large sum the city spends on law enforcement.

Young, who last week backed the budget in a committee vote, said he had not yet decided how he was going to vote on the spending plan.

"I haven't decided what my vote is going to be today," he said.

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