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City Councilman Jack Young Dismisses Opponents, Sees Self as “Best”
City Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young

By Van Smith | Posted 10/6/2004

City Councilman Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D-2nd District) does not suffer from lack of ego. When he applied in 1996 to fill the vacancy left by his former boss, retired City Councilman Anthony Ambridge, Young announced publicly that he was “overqualified” for the position. He then teasingly contended that, since his neighbors had already conferred the honorary title “mayor” to his name, “maybe one day I can be mayor.” And today, as Young works to beat out his competition—Green Party candidate Paul Dibos and Republican Dale Warren Hargrave—in the new 12th District, he says confidently, “I’m the best at what I do.”

To some extent, Young has earned his bragging rights. By reputation and record, he’s been an attentive, energetic representative, showing up regularly at neighborhood meetings, answering phone calls promptly, and serving as a key link between constituents and city services.

“I’m very big on customer service,” he says. “The little things that they call about are taken care of.”

To Dibos, though, addressing such pedestrian concerns doesn’t cut it, given the state of the new 12th.

“I don’t believe he has been leading,” the Green Party candidate says. “I’ve been walking around the district, and I really don’t see any effect” of Young’s handling of its affairs. Despite the fact that the district is “one of the poorest,” he sees intriguing possibilities. “It’s exciting, because it could potentially use sustainable development to create job opportunities.”

Green Paul Dibos is a 42-year-old architect (though he qualifies that by saying, “I’m two exams short of certification, so I can’t technically call myself an architect.”) with the Baltimore-based firm Hord Coplan Macht. He’s a devotee of sustainable development, which he says aims to create “good-paying jobs, as opposed to low-paying tourism jobs,” by utilizing what he calls “cradle to grave” manufacturing techniques to maximize economic efficiency based on the principles of recycling. He’s a big-picture thinker who’d like to bring big-picture solutions to local problems, such as the district’s poverty.

And poverty is the 12th District’s hallmark. Young’s current district, the 2nd, includes some of the city’s wealthiest citizens, residing along the Charles Street corridor from Guilford to Mount Vernon, and some of its poorest, in a large swath of East Baltimore from Mid-Town/Belvedere to Berea. (Due to redistricting, the City Council district map has been redrawn, and all of the old districts will cease to exist after the coming general election.) The new 12th is a truncated version of the old 2nd, witü Green Mount Cemetery at its center. Its population of nearly 40,000 is almost 90 percent African-American, and, with the exception of those living in Mid-Town/Belvedere and a chunk of Charles Village, its residents overwhelmingly suffer from poverty and many of its attendant ills.

Republican Dale Warren Hargrave has a hands-on, if tightly focused, approach to the district’s central challenge. He is perhaps Greenmount West’s most visible activist, a homeowner who is forever getting his hands dirty to keep his neighborhood clean. While he couldn’t be reached for this article, despite numerous attempts to contact him, he was available during last summer’s primary season. He attended a Midtown/Belvedere candidate’s night at which he proclaimed himself the head of “my own Baltimore Believe campaign,” and called for city government to “open the books to let us find out what we are spending our money on.” A follow-up visit to walk around Greenmount West with him revealed that he believes he “doesn’t need” local Republican leaders to help him get elected. Rather, he said, “I’m already known all around because I’m on top of the garbage, on top of the vacant houses and the rats. Young’s a no-show, but I’m already here.”

Young, though, says that Hargrave “can’t do the job better than I can. Being a councilman is more than that. You need certain skills. You need to build coalitions. You can’t be an island by yourself”—which is what he suggests Hargrave’s single-neighborhood approach adds up to.

Dibos, meanwhile, has his own image problem to contend with. A Google search of his name turns up numerous hits with salacious details, purportedly written by him, about his sexual desires being tied in with cannibalism. “That’s not me, obviously, that wrote that,” he says. “I don’t know what to do about that. It’s someone’s slander. I have my suspicions [as to who is responsible], but I can’t prove it. So I just don’t know what to say about that.”

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