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Sam Allard / Scene
Blaine Griffin (R), announced his endorsement of Kevin Kelley outside the DREAM mural at E. 110th and Woodland, (9/16/21).
Incoming Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin has tapped Ward 3's Kerry McCormack to serve as majority leader of the legislative body and Ward 14's Jasmin Santana to serve as majority whip.
Griffin made the announcement one day after the final council meeting of the year. He said that with McCormack and Santana alongside him, the council leadership team is "Cleveland to the core."
"Cleveland’s future is bright," he said in a press release, "but we have many issues to overcome to make our city a thriving metropolis for our residents, businesses, and organizations."
McCormack and Santana both said they were excited for their roles, and would continue to work to make council stronger and more inclusive as it worked toward improving the lives of Clevelanders. McCormack is council's first out LGBTQ+ member. Santana is its only Hispanic member.
Council is of course 100% Democratic, and most legislation passes unanimously, so the leadership roles are less significant than in politically divided legislatures. But both McCormack and Santana will help establish council's legislative priorities and, if history is any indication, apply pressure on colleagues to pass legislation important to Griffin.
Santana will continue in her role as whip. She assumed the position from Phyllis Cleveland when Cleveland resigned earlier in 2021.
McCormack, who backed Justin Bibb in the mayoral election, was Blaine Griffin's key challenger for the council presidency, and many assumed that Bibb's victory would have cleared the path to leadership for McCormack. (Council has long maintained a tradition of racial balance between the mayor and council president.)
But it was McCormack himself who nominated Griffin for the presidency at a November council caucus, signaling that an agreement had likely been struck between the two of them. Both Kevin Kelley and Blaine Griffin served as council's majority leader before they assumed the presidency, and McCormack can now be informally considered next in line.
Though Griffin had secured the votes for his presidency, council voted to pass the unit rule anyway
, forcing all council members to vote for Griffin or face expulsion from the caucus.
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