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Julian Jones elected Baltimore County Council chair a second time

Baltimore County 4th District Councilman Julian Jones stands inside the historic courthouse building in Towson Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.
Baltimore County 4th District Councilman Julian Jones stands inside the historic courthouse building in Towson Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

For the second time in three years, Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones will preside over the County Council as chairman.

The Woodstock Democrat, who also served as chair throughout 2018, was elected 6-0 to the position during the council’s first virtual meeting of the year.

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Councilman Todd Crandell, a Republican representing the Dundalk and Essex area, said during the meeting he “painfully and respectfully” abstained, but could not be reached after the meeting for further comment.

Crandell was critical last year about the council’s tradition of electing the council chair, a position typically rotated among members the council’s majority party. The council is split four Democrats to three Republicans.

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Jones is taking over the position from Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, who represents northeastern parts of the county. In his new role, the chairman will lead meetings, set the council’s agenda and perform other administrative duties, as well as occasionally whipping votes among council members for bills requested by the County Executive’s office.

Councilman David Marks stressed that working across party lines would be essential this year as the council starts its decennial councilmanic redistricting process.

The Perry Hall Republican during the meeting noted he and Crandell did not receive a customary phone call that a council member typically makes when they are considering the chairmanship, and said he was concerned council Republicans could be left out of redistricting conversations.

“We represent 43% of the [county] population,” Marks said in an interview after the meeting. “We should be part of a collaborative process.”

Per the county charter, councilmanic district boundaries are redrawn after each decennial census. The updated map must be supported by five council members in order to be adopted.

Jones during the meeting told Marks he didn’t intend to make anyone “feel that I would somehow run roughshod over the Republicans. I’ve never done that,” he said. “I certainly have no intention of doing it in the future.”

Jones, who has represented the predominantly Black 4th District of Woodlawn and Randallstown and parts of Owings Mills and Reisterstown for the last six years, became the first African-American to lead the council when he was reelected to the council in 2018.

Jones, who is currently the council’s only Black member, aggressively pushed for police reform legislation last year that ultimately banned chokeholds and established new police oversight measures, although he had sought to establish more stringent reform measures like adding civilians to police trial boards, which hear cases of alleged misconduct among police.

He has also been supportive of legislation banning county landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants who hold government housing vouchers, the only council member to back a bill that would have done so in 2016 before the County Council passed the HOME Act protecting voucher holders from discrimination last year.

In an interview after the meeting, Jones said that he will, as chair, ensure all voices are heard, regardless of ideological differences.

During the meeting, he thanked Bevins for her leadership in 2020, and said she helped the council rise to the occasion during a global event “that I hope we never have to … endure again in our lifetime.”

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