Baltimore City Council

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Baltimore City Council
Coat of arms or logo
Council President
Bernard "Jack" Young, Democratic
Since 2010
Seats 14
Baltimore City Council.svg
Electoral districts with four-year terms
Last election
November 8, 2016
Meeting place
1city hall baltimore.jpg
Baltimore City Hall
Council Chamber
Baltimore, MD

The Baltimore City Council is the legislative branch that governs the City of Baltimore and its nearly 700,000 citizens. It has 14 members elected by district and a president elected at-large; all serve four-year terms. The Council holds regular meetings on alternate Monday evenings on the fourth floor of the Baltimore City Hall.[1] The Council has seven standing committees, all of which must have at least three members.

To qualify for a position on the Council, a person must be 18 years of age, a registered voter, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of Baltimore and the district. If a position on the Council is vacated, a new representative from the Council District is elected by a majority vote of the Council,[2] as of 2018, the President receives an annual salary of $119,000, the Vice President gets $77,000 and the rest of councillors receive $69,000.[3] The current city council was sworn in on December 8, 2016, with 8 new members among those inaugurated.


In 1729, the Maryland General Assembly authorized the erection of Baltimoretown on the north side of the Patapsco and appointed a group of commissioners to govern it; in 1797, the General Assembly granted a charter that created the office of Mayor and City Council. The Council was divided into 2 branches, and membership required heavy property qualifications, during its early history the council was composed exclusively of white, non-Jewish males.[4]

In 1826, the Maryland General Assembly passed the "Jew Bill", which allowed Jews to hold public office in the state. Two leaders in the fight for the law were Jacob I. Cohen Jr. (1789–1869) and Solomon Etting (1764–1847), who subsequently won election to the Council and became the first Jewish officeholders in the state.[5]

In 1890, Harry Sythe Cummings was elected to the council, becoming the state's first black elected official; in the 40 years after 1890, six black Republicans won elections to the council.

In 1918, the General Assembly enacted all local laws affecting the city; since then the Mayor and City Council assumed those responsibilities. In the November election of 1922, the voters through petition replaced a two-branch council with a unicameral one and Baltimore abolished its old system of small wards, replacing them with much larger districts; in 1943, Ella Bailey became the first woman elected to the City Council.

In 2003, as a result of the ballot initiative, Question P, the Baltimore City Council went from six three-member districts to 14 single-member districts or from 18 members to 14 members, the council president continued to be elected at-large.


The records of the City Council, dates ranging from 1797 to 1987, reside at the Baltimore City Archives in Record Group BRG16.[6] The collection includes administrative files, volumes of proceedings, joint council session reports, correspondence, ordinances and resolutions, committee bills, hearing schedules, and other records.

Recent election results[edit]

All 14 seats on the city council were retained by the Democrats in the 2016 election.[7]

Baltimore City Council Elections, 2016
Party Candidates Votes Seats
No. % pp No. No. %
Maryland Democratic Party 14 174,070 85.44 +2.48 14 0 100.00
Maryland Republican Party 8 16,529 8.11 +1.47 0 0 0.00
Maryland Green Party 4 5,749 2.82 +0.57 0 0 0.00
Unaffiliated 3 3,650 1.79 N/A 0 0 0.00
Write-in N/A 2,633 1.29 −5.98 0 0 0.00
Ujima People's Progress Party 1 1,107 0.54 N/A 0 0 0.00
Maryland Libertarian Party 0 0 0 -0.89 0 0 0.00
Total 203,738 100.00 ±0.00 14 ±0 100.00

In addition to retaining absolute control of the City Council, the Democrats held the separately elected position of City Council President.[8]

President of the Baltimore City Council Election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bernard C. "Jack" Young 173,065 76.0
Republican Shannon Wright 27,408 12.0
Green Connor Meek 11,119 4.9
Independent Sharon Black 8,368 3.7
Libertarian Susan Gaztanaga 6,380 2.8
Other Write-ins 1,300 0.6
Total votes 227,640 100.00
Democratic hold

Current members of the Baltimore City Council[edit]

District Locale Born Member Party Elected Primary Committee
1 Southeast Northampton, MA[9] Zeke Cohen Democratic 2016 Education and Youth (Chair)[10]
2 Belair Parkside Baltimore Brandon M. Scott Democratic 2011 Public Safety (Chair)
3 Hamilton Baltimore Ryan Dorsey Democratic 2016 Public Safety (Vice Chair)
4 North Baltimore Bill Henry (2007).jpg Bill Henry Democratic 2007 Budget, Housing & Urban Affairs, Labor
5 Northwest Baltimore Isaac "YItzy" Schleifer Democratic 2016 Housing & Urban Affairs (Vice Chair)
6 Park Heights, Roland Park Baltimore Sharon Green Middleton (2007).jpg Sharon Green Middleton Democratic 2007[11] Council Vice President, Finance & Economic Development (Chair)
7 Mondawmin Baltimore Leon F. Pinkett III Democratic 2016 Budget (Vice Chair), Finance (Vice Chair)
8 Edmondson Village, Forest Park Baltimore Kristerfer Burnett Democratic 2016 Executive Appointments (Vice Chair)
9 West Baltimore John Bullock Democratic 2016 Housing & Urban Affairs (Chair)
10 Southwest Baltimore Edward Reisinger (2007).jpg Edward Reisinger Democratic 1995 Land Use & Transportation (Chair)
11 Downtown New York Eric Costello Democratic 2014 Budget (Chair), Judiciary & Legislative Investigations (Chair)
12 Greenmount, Jonestown Baltimore Robert Stokes Sr. Democratic 2016 Executive Appointments (Chair)
13 McElderry Park Philadelphia Shannon Sneed Democratic 2016 Labor (Chair)
14 Charles Village Providence Mary Pat Clarke (2007).jpg Mary Pat Clarke Democratic 1975 Education (Vice Chair), Judiciary & Legislative Investigations (Vice Chair)
At-Large Baltimore City Baltimore Bernard C. "Jack" Young (2007).jpg Bernard "Jack" Young Democratic 2010[12] Council President


  1. ^ "Rules of the City Council of Baltimore" (PDF). Baltimore City Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  2. ^ "Baltimore City Charter" (PDF). Baltimore City. 2008. pp. 77–78. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  3. ^ Platcher, David (2018-4-2). "What's causing Baltimore's population loss? It's no mystery". The Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved 2018-7-14.  Check date values in: |accessdate=, |date= (help)
  4. ^ "History of the Baltimore City Council". Baltimore City Council. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  5. ^ Wiernik, Peter (1912). History of the Jews in America: From the Period of the Discovery of the New World to the Present Time. New York: Jewish Press Publishing Company. p. 127. 
  6. ^ "Guide to Government Records BRG16". Retrieved 2011-08-12. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "About Zeke". Zeke Cohen For Baltimore. Retrieved 2016-12-08. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Middleton was appointed in 2007 and subsequently was elected to the position.
  12. ^ Young was voted by the Council to become council president when Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became Mayor of Baltimore