Young is off to rough start Critical reaction swift for newest councilman


Bernard C. "Jack" Young had been Baltimore's newest city councilman for less than 24 hours and already he was taking a beating.

On his first day, Council President Lawrence A. Bell III made him work out of a briefcase, refusing to set aside an office for Young in City Hall.

Meanwhile, in the western part of his district, groups of residents were plotting his demise. They want to drum Young out of office during a special election in 1998.

And Anthony J. Ambridge, the councilman he replaced Oct. 21, was jumping all over him on the phone. Something about Young not getting too big for his britches. "I guess I need to develop tough skin," Young mused. "I expect stones to be thrown."

Former 2nd District Councilman Carl Stokes, who supported Young in his unsuccessful 1991 bid for a council seat, has some advice for this 42-year-old East Baltimore native.

"I talked to him the other day and he was a little down about the reaction that he has been getting," said Stokes. "I told him, 'Don't listen to the criticism.' "

For the moment, Young is the buzz inside and outside of City Hall. Many want to know who this man is and why he ascended into a council chair so quickly.

A clerical manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Young won unanimous approval from the City Council, acting at the behest of East Baltimore council members Paula Johnson Branch and Robert L. Douglass.

Some say, behind his back, that he is nothing more than a mouthpiece for Branch and Douglass.

"They name their own people with no regard to the community," said Allen P. Golden, president of the district's Mount Vernon-Belvedere Improvement Association.

Then there are those who say that Young is an energetic man with a good heart, who will serve his constituents well.

"He is deeply committed to the people of the 2nd District," said Mary Demory, Young's 1991 campaign treasurer and president of the Baltimore Metropolitan Coalition of 100 Black Women. She said he helped set up a food pantry at his church. He also takes an active interest in children's attendance at Thomas G. Hayes Elementary and in their safety, she said.

Young didn't come out of nowhere. He has been a political aide for several politicians in East Baltimore, including former council President Mary Pat Clarke, state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, Stokes and Ambridge.

He is a member of the Democratic State Central Committee and of an influential political organization, the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition.

A gum-chewing, soft-spoken man whose small frame is easily lost in the roominess of his suits, Young says life as a councilman won't change him. It will just make him more effective in helping his community, he says.

He has a soft spot for East Baltimore, where he was born and raised. Many of his nine brothers and sisters still live in the city.

He became interested in politics when he was 9, handing out fliers just before an election. He continued to dally in politics but focused on raising a family. He is married and has two daughters, 16 and 11. He became an active member of United Baptist Church and is a deacon. He also attended the Community College of Baltimore to study business but never attained a degree.

In the late 1980s, he joined the East End Forum political club. He ran for the council for the second time last year but bowed out at the request of the Eastside Democratic Organization, Branch's and Douglass' political club. In return, the club promised to back him in a future election.

When Ambridge announced he was leaving last spring to head the city's real estate office, Young became the front-runner among 12 candidates to fill the seat.

These days Young talks about making the 2nd District, which extends from the public housing communities in the east to the mansions of Guilford in the north, a better place to live -- more like what he remembers as a child.

"We had everything -- recreational activities, camps," Young said. "Sparrows Point was a great place. We were taken care of by the churches. It was a place where kids could actually be kids."

Much of it has changed.

"I want to make sure that money is brought here to East Baltimore," Young said. "I want to revitalize the whole East Baltimore area. Put green space where kids can play and grow."

He has lofty ideas, say some of his closest political friends, but his strengths are rooted in making sure the little, but important, things are done in the community.

"He would call me and bug me about every little constituent call," said Clarke, whom Young worked for during her eight years in office. "And that's what I wanted. Not someone who went to meetings, shook hands and left.

"I know he will put his whole heart and soul into it and worry himself to death about being in the council. But he has to remember not to beat himself up."

If Young doesn't beat himself up, plenty of people, in a political sense, will. The west side neighborhoods are galvanizing to launch a campaign to push him out of office in 1998.

Some district residents complain that Young will not serve the western side of the district because his political power resides in the east side.

"They haven't given me a chance yet," Young responded to the " accusations. "I will represent everyone."

Pub Date: 10/29/96

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