The city of Baltimore has a new leader, ending a transition of power that began more than a month ago when former Mayor Catherine Pugh stepped aside amid a tumultuous scandal into the bulk sales of her self-published children’s books.
New Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young formally took his oath of office Thursday afternoon, less than a week after Pugh resigned from the post.
The ceremonial event took place at the War Memorial across from City Hall as a show of unity and support for Baltimore following weeks of uncertainty regarding the city’s leadership, his office said.
Young, a Democrat and longtime president of the City Council, has been serving as acting mayor since Pugh took a leave of absence on April 1 amid mounting questions surrounding the sale of her self-published “Healthy Holly” children’s book series.
He will serve only the remainder of Pugh’s term and has said he has no interest in running for mayor in 2020. If he doesn’t change his mind, his tenure would last just 1 ½ years.
Even in a city accustomed to turmoil, Pugh’s rapid unraveling was stunning.
In late March, during a brief stint back at City Hall after being diagnosed with pneumonia, Pugh described her no-contract $500,000 arrangement to sell her "Healthy Holly" books to a university-based health care system as a "regrettable mistake" and offered apologies. A few days later, she announced her indefinite leave of absence hours after the state's governor requested a public corruption investigation into Pugh.
Other customers included a Maryland financier who divulged that his financial firm decided to write a $100,000 check for "Healthy Holly" books after she clinched the 2016 Democratic primary.
Exactly one week before her resignation, Pugh’s offices, homes, and multiple other locations were raided by FBI and IRS agents and it became clear that a federal grand jury had been empaneled.
"Baltimore deserves a mayor who can move our great city forward," Pugh said in a written statement read by her lawyer, Steven Silverman.
She is the second Baltimore mayor in less than a decade to step down because of scandal. She came to office contrasting her clean image with her main opponent, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who was forced to depart office in 2010 as part of a plea deal for misappropriating about $500 in gift cards meant for needy families.
On Monday, the City Council unanimously chose Brandon Scott to replace Young as president, the Baltimore Sun reported.