Welch sworn in to replace his mother on City Council

The Baltimore City Council on Monday selected William A. "Pete" Welch Jr. to take the seat of his mother, Agnes Welch, despite a flurry of controversy over his criminal record.

By a 10-3 margin, the council voted for Welch, 57, an accountant by trade who has spent decades working in his mother's 9th district office as an aide. After the vote in City Council chambers, Welch, his mother and his daughter went downstairs for Welch to take the oath of office in the mayor's gilded ceremonial room. Agnes Welch retired last year.

"You've certainly paid your dues," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told Welch, as she swore him in. "You've been a faithful constituent service worker in the district for years."

Voting against Welch were Council members James B, Kraft, Bill Henry and Mary Pat Clarke — the only three who voted against him at last week's nomination hearing.

"He's not my choice," Clarke said after the vote. "We [elected officials] don't always measure up to higher standards but we have to try. The one positive here is that all of the cards are on the table for voters to see."

Welch will have to defend his seat in this fall's election.

Welch, who has worked for nearly 30 years as a legislative aide to his mother, has a criminal record, all of it related to political activities he conducted on her behalf.

In 2000 he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and gun violations for firing a gun during an argument about whether to pay a poll worker $40. He said at the time that he fired the gun into the ground to restore order, though last week he told the council that the gun misfired.

Four years later, Welch pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges related to the failure to file campaign finance reports for his mother. He had turned in an identical report for years.

After the ceremony Welch, who recently told reporters "I'm a different person now than I was then," thanked the council for having "great faith" in him.

"The road has not been easy but leadership is never easy," he said. "Let the work I will do speak for me."

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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