As Beachwood incumbent mayoral candidate Merle Gorden prepares to face his first challenger in 16 years on November 5, Beachwood residents are enjoying the drama of a rare race.
Last night, a reported standing-room-only crowd (150+) at the Cuyahoga County Library Beachwood branch watched as Current Beachwood councilman Brian Linick debated Gorden in an event organized by the Cleveland Jewish News.
The debate focused on familiar topics — specifically Gorden's documented abuses of taxpayer dollars — and the candidates reiterated sentiments they've been voicing since Gorden's financial improprieties first broke:
GORDEN (roughly): Every dollar I spent was authorized by council. It was all for the purposes of conducting business in Beachwood. If you like living in the "most savvy community in Cleveland" and appreciate good services and low taxes, keep me in office.
LINICK: I will cut the fat in government. The spending since Gorden has been in office is untenable. I respect his 30 years of service but it's time for new blood and honest, transparent leadership.
Among the funnier moments was when Gorden assured moderator Edward Horowitz (CSU Professor) that purchasing the $45,000 Beachwood-owned GMC Arcadia which Gorden uses for personal use — including campaigning — was authorized by council, including a vote by Brian Linick.
Linick responded that he only voted for the Arcadia as a compromise to a more expensive vehicle Gorden wanted. Touche. He said he intends to use his own car for city meetings. And that's not all. Given the small size of Beachwood (5.3 square miles), Linick said he'd be able to walk or run if he had to get anywhere.
The bustling crowd was eager to learn about both candidates before the election early next month.
It's hard to say who has the edge here. Gorden is firmly entrenched and seems to have the unwavering support of Beachwood's old guard. But the east side community has seen an influx of younger families in the past decade, and the overwhelmingly negative media coverage of Gorden — for clarity: HE IS A DOCUMENTED CROOK — coverage which, under almost any other circumstance, would be grounds for not only a popularity dip but immediate dismissal, may nudge the balance toward Linick.
A drive through Beachwood this weekend revealed ample yard signage for both candidates, with the slight edge for Gorden.