In a break with tradition, Julian Jones Jr. was reelected as Baltimore County Council chair for the fourth time in five years and will serve a third consecutive term as chair, the first in county history.
It will be his fourth time in five years serving as County Council leader.
Council members elected Jones unanimously Tuesday evening at their first meeting of the year. Jones, who was last elected chair in January 2022, said in an interview Tuesday morning that he expected to win reelection.
Typically, the chair is rotated every year among members of the council’s majority party, though previous members have served two terms as chair before. Democrats hold a 4-3 majority on the council, including Jones, a Democrat who represents the predominantly Black 4th District and who is the first Black member to lead the council.
The chair is in charge of leading meetings, setting the agenda and other administrative tasks.
Jones was first elected chair in January 2018, served until January 2019, then took up the mantle again in January 2021.
He has served as council chair every year since, focusing on bills addressing police use of force, overseeing the county’s responses to the coronavirus and a since-settled lawsuit over the county’s legislative redistricting process.
While Jones said he tries to “never count our eggs before they hatch,” he said he expected to be reelected as chair and wants to focus on programs to increase homeownership among county residents as one of his priorities for the coming year.
“I’m excited with the work I’m doing, and look forward to continuing to serve the people of Baltimore County,” he said. “I’m always appreciative of the confidence placed in me by my colleagues.”
Two other council members confirmed that they expected Jones’ reelection, but planned to return the role to a rotating schedule next year.
“Because of COVID, we thought it was best to keep Jones as chair for now,” said Mike Ertel, a Towson Democrat who was elected in November to represent the 6th District.
While a council member being elected the group’s leader for the third consecutive year “doesn’t often happen, COVID doesn’t often happen either,” Ertel said. “We all have confidence in Julian at this point.”
Izzy Patoka, a Pikesville Democrat who represents the 2nd District, confirmed that the council expected to elect a new chair next year, when the county would be in the middle of a comprehensive zoning map process.
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He said “lots of people vied for me to be chair this year,” but he opted to step aside and have Jones serve for another year.
“I am absolutely looking forward to serving with this 18th County Council,” Patoka said. “There’s a strong level of experience and integrity in this council.”
Councilman David Marks, a Perry Hall Republican, said he understood that the vote for chair was “always partisan,” but wished that a Republican was granted the opportunity to serve as chair once in a while.
“It would be refreshing,” he said. “But we all have a good relationship with Councilman Jones and I expect us to continue to be collegial.”
Jones was the subject of two reports from county Inspector General Kelly Madigan in the last year, whose office found he violated county policy by using his government email to solicit campaign donations, and that he overrode county officials’ objections to direct an on-call contractor to pave a Towson alleyway at the behest of a developer.
In response, Jones said the reports were “a lot to do about nothing” and a “total hit job,” and that the county owned the alleyway in question.
“Most people know who I am and the work I do and my integrity,” he said.