Baltimore City

Rawlings-Blake urged to support Young to succeed her

The contest for Baltimore City Council president took a new turn Thursday when the city's state Senate delegation sent a letter to the current council president and mayor-to-be Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, asking her to support Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young.

Young, a 13-year council veteran from East Baltimore, exemplifies "principled leadership" and a "strong, ethical" voice who "understands the needs of City residents," the senators wrote.

An East Baltimore native and state human resources department employee, Young is widely considered the favorite in the council race, having secured the votes of the majority of the council members. Supporters praise his independence and outspokenness.

The council will vote on a new president at a Feb. 8 meeting, four days after Rawlings-Blake takes over the office vacated by Mayor Sheila Dixon, who is resigning as part of a plea deal in her criminal corruption trial.

This week, Councilman William F. Cole IV announced that he was formally entering the race for the council presidency. Although a first-term councilman, Cole is well-known in the state Democratic Party, having served as a longtime aide to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings. He was appointed to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates in 1999 but lost his seat after a 2002 redistricting.

An Otterbein resident and University of Baltimore employee, Cole has worked closely with Rawlings-Blake on several recent issues.

Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector praised Cole's experience and ability, and said she was primarily supporting him at the behest of Rawlings-Blake.

"I asked her how I could help her and she said, 'I would like very much for you to support Bill Cole,' " Spector said. "She deserves all the support we can give her for the benefit of the citizens of Baltimore."

But spokesman Ryan O'Doherty said the council president has not endorsed or solicited support for either candidate and has "strong relationships" with both.