The Baltimore County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to reelect Councilman Julian Jones as chair for the third year in a row.
Republican Councilman David Marks nominated the Woodstock Democrat for reelection, saying that Jones has “set an example” of bipartisanship.
“We have some very tough issues to tackle this year,” like public safety and sustainability, Marks said during the meeting. He added Jones has fostered a “collegial” dynamic on the council, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 4-3.
He’s also led bipartisan efforts, Marks said — particularly in approving new controversial councilmanic district boundaries last year. Local civil rights groups sued the council over the first greenlighted map because it didn’t create a second majority-Black district in addition to Jones’, which they said violates federal voting laws by weakening the county’s Black voting bloc. The map was ultimately approved unanimously without the additional majority-Black district.
Democrat Izzy Patoka seconded Marks’ motion, and Jones was elected 7-0.
First elected in 2018 to represent the western 4th District, which includes Randallstown and Owings Mills, this will be Jones’ fourth year at the head of the seven-member council. The council’s chair sets its meeting agendas and whips votes for legislation proposed by the county executive’s office.
The County Council elects a new chair at its first meeting each calendar year, per the county charter.
Jones became the first African American council chairman in 2019, and is the only representative to hold the honorific for three consecutive years, according to the council’s office. Former Councilwoman Cathy Bevins was elected chairwoman in 2014 and the following year. Before that, former Councilman John Olszewski Sr. presided over his colleagues in 2010 and 2011.
“I don’t take your support lightly,” Jones told Marks after his nomination. “It’s very important to me. The fact that you trust me and put this trust in me to elect me as chair ... means an awful lot.”
Jones added that he’s “extremely proud” of the council’s work.
“We all comes from different places with different ideas,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I can say each and every one of us here, as well as the former members, work very hard to advance good government, and good governance.”
Jones’ reelection comes shortly after he was subject to two investigations by Baltimore County Inspector General Kelly Madigan, whom he’s criticized over the last two years.
In November, Madigan concluded in a report that Department of Public Works officials, at Jones’ behest, spent nearly $70,000 from a program intended for homeowners to instead help a businessperson quickly repave a Towson alley next to their business — far removed from Jones’ district. Jones told The Banner he was merely advocating for a county resident; the county administrator’s office said the bylaws that established the paving program don’t prohibit the money from being used by business owners.
And in April, the inspector general reported that Jones broke the county’s electronic communications policy by including a link to donate to his campaign committee in at least 40 emails from his government email address. Jones said the link was mistakenly included and went unnoticed for months.