Baltimore voters agreed Tuesday to let the City Council hire its own lawyer, a rare item of interest amid an otherwise humdrum lineup of mostly uncontested local races.
For almost all of the offices in the overwhelmingly Democratic city, the real competition took place during the party primaries in June. They included Marilyn J. Mosby's upset of State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein. She easily defeated a write-in challenger Tuesday.
"I am humbled, blessed, and ready!" she tweeted before the polls closed.
City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young introduced the measure to allow the council to retain its own lawyer after a dispute last year with City Solicitor George Nilson. Nilson had advised the council that a local hiring bill that Young favored would not survive a legal challenge.
Relations between the council and Nilson were frayed again recently when the solicitor told council members that a bill that would require city police officers to wear body cameras was problematic.
Young said the ability to get the advice of an attorney who answered to the council — even if it matched Nilson's — would help build trust between the council and the mayor, and take politics out of the equation.
"It's transparent government, and that's why he pushed it," Lester Davis, Young's spokesman, said Tuesday evening. "It's going to give the council independent advice which they've been pushing for."
"I think the voters responded and recognized the benefit."
Voters also approved several bond issues. They included $34 million for school renovations, $47 million for Recreation and Parks, and $47 million for economic development.
There were no surprises in the elections for political office. In the most contentious contest on the ballot — the race for state's attorney — Mosby overcame the write-in challenge of defense attorney Russell A. Neverdon Sr.
Mosby, an insurance company lawyer and former prosecutor, faced questions about her level of experience.
But Neverdon reported only $5,000 in his campaign fund heading into the general election and failed to collect enough signatures to secure a spot on the ballot. Mosby had more than $42,000 to spend, and still had $21,000 in the bank two weeks before Election Day — the last reporting period. Neverdon didn't file a report.
Mosby made tackling violent crime a key theme of her primary campaign. But she will take office in January with high expectations that she will root out corruption in the police department and prosecute officers for brutality.
In other races: Democrat John W. Anderson beat Republican David Anthony Wiggins by a wide margin in the race for sheriff.
Voters returned Democrats Frank M. Conaway Sr. as circuit court clerk and his daughter, Belinda K. Conaway, as register of wills. They faced no Republican opposition.
Seven city circuit judges, who do not run with a party in the general election, were also unopposed.
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