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by Mark Reutter6:41 amJan 3, 20240

Izzy Patoka replaces Julian Jones as chair of Baltimore County Council following inspector general dispute

One ambitious county Democrat replaces another tarnished by his efforts to hobble Inspector General Kelly Madigan. What’s next may hinge on Dutch Ruppersberger’s electoral intentions.

Above: Staff removes Julian Jones’ name from the chairman’s seat as Izzy Patoka and Jones look on. (Mark Reutter)

The Baltimore County Council has picked Israel “Izzy” Patoka as its new chair, replacing Julian E. Jones Jr., whose attempt last month to curb the powers of County Inspector General Kelly Madigan led to widespread public condemnation.

After Jones’ efforts were revealed by The Brew, the county council was inundated with emails and letters, with Patoka saying his office alone received 1,000 constituent messages, all but one opposed to Jones’ gambit.

The blowback ended on December 18 when Jones (D, 4th) withdrew his amendments, which he had earlier sought to slip into two inspector general bills, and voted for the measures.

In endorsing Patoka for chair at last night’s council meeting, Wade Kach, a 3rd District Republican, said he and the Pikesville Democrat shared two core concerns – protecting the environment and “our desire for openness and transparency in this governmental body.”

“There is no document the county has that would not be beneficial for the public to see,” Kach added, indirectly but pointedly alluding to Jones’ amendments.

All six members present voted for Patoka, with Jones referring to his ouster, after three consecutive one-year terms as chair, this way:

“We’ll just move on.”

Members of the 2024 Baltimore County Council congratulate Izzy Patoka as their chair. From Left: Mike Ertel, David Marks, Patoka, Julina Jones, Wade Kach and Pat Young. Todd Crandell (R. 7th) was absent. (Mark Reutter)

Members of the 2024 Baltimore County Council congratulate Izzy Patoka as their new chair. From left: Mike Ertel, David Marks, Patoka, Julian Jones, Wade Kach and Pat Young. Todd Crandell (R, 7th) was absent and did not vote. (Mark Reutter)

Patoka-Jones Rivalry

The new position gives Patoka a leg up on Jones.

Both Democrats have large campaign war chests – $544,323 for Jones compared to $685,252 amassed by Patoka, according their latest state filings – and both are expected to run for county executive when current executive Johnny Olszewski’s term ends in 2026.

That’s if Olszewski doesn’t decide to run for Congress beforehand. The guessing game over the Democrat’s intentions – he considered running for governor in 2022 and more recently mulled over a bid for the U.S. Senate after Ben Cardin announced that he would not seek re-election.

Last summer, Olszewski opened an informal exploratory committee so that he could jump into the Second Congressional District race if U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger opts not to seek a 12th term in 2024.

Ruppersberger, who will turn 78 at the end of this month, has not yet announced his intentions.

If Olszewski runs and wins the Democratic Party primary in May and goes on to victory in the November general election, the county council will decide the next county executive.

Which brings us back to the rivalry between Patoka and Jones.

Patoka calls the council he now heads “superb,” “extremely talented” and “outstanding.”

In remarks tonight after his name plate was moved to the chairman’s slot, Patoka lauded each of his colleagues.

He congratulated Jones for being “a strong advocate” for the anchor institution in his district, Northwest Hospital in Randallstown. He characterized the Council as a whole as “superb,” “extremely talented,” “thoughtful” and “outstanding.”

“Each member has a level of expertise that allows us to see the issues that come before us through a variety of lenses,” Patoka said.

Improving public facilities and addressing the county’s 2030 Master Plan will be among his top priorities. (Patoka is a former deputy director at the county planning department.)

But in the immediate future, Pat Young (D, 1st) has been tasked to improve the council’s internal processes – in particular how to make amendments to future bills “more transparent to the residents of Baltimore County,” Patoka announced.

Brew’s Coverage of IG Controversy

Exclusive: Julian Jones plans to propose amendments tonight to strip away the power of Baltimore County’s inspector general (12/4/23)

Following a midnight drop of amendments to hobble Baltimore County’s inspector general, Julian Jones sought a private meeting about them (12/6/23)

Text of Julian Jones’ Inspector General amendments (12/6/23)

National watchdog group calls on Baltimore County Council to reject Jones’ amendments (12/11/23)

Julian Jones changes the amendments he tried to get the Baltimore County Council to pass last week (12/11/23)

Baltimore County Council: Fess up before your silence looks like a cover-up (12/12/23)

Chairman Jones calls his inspector general amendments “the right thing for good government” (12/13/23)

Julian Jones withdraws amendments that would weaken the county inspector general (12/18/23)

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