Local Dirt: Sweeney's Shrinkage

And more tales from the Paris of the Rust Belt


Council president Martin Sweeney lost two of the most loyal members of his East-Side-heavy majority on April 17, when his majority leader, Glenville's Sabra Pierce Scott, and South Collinwood's Roosevelt Coats announced in tandem that the end of the month was their end of the line. According to a few council members, Sweeney was taken completely by surprise.

Just last week, Scott said "bring it on" when I asked about former political heavyweight Jeff Johnson running against her. But she admitted on Friday that she was just joshing.

"I said to myself, 'He's going to think I'm crazy,' but I know what I'm doing. I knew I wasn't going to be running. But it's true. He can bring it on. I don't care who's in the race, I'm going to do what I can to ensure a victory for Shari Cloud." Pierce Scott has recommended Cloud, the executive director of a nonprofit arts organization with no political experience, to succeed her.

"This community deserves 110 percent representation," she says. "You gotta be able to bring it every morning you wake up. I'm 50, and that's not old, but I'm still a little shy of that 110 percent, and I'm not going to let this community down."

Coats, 60, said he is recommending state representative Eugene Miller to take his place and that he would run to replace Miller. If unsuccessful, Coats said he would enjoy the break. "Over the last 21 years, I've been blessed to represent some of the finest people in the city," he says. "But now it's time to go and do something different."

In a statement Friday, Sweeney called Pierce Scott and Coats "tremendous assets" with the "opportunity to recommend their successor." Miller and Cloud, he continued, "are both new, fresh and energetic possible additions to the council, and we look forward to working with them."

And surely they'll be looking forward to needed infusions from the cash-heavy Council Leadership Fund, which allows members in good standing to avoid arduous fundraising duties and concentrate on other things — like staying comfortable.

Though some don't believe the sudden defections will affect Sweeney's majority hold, others wonder. Longtime council observer Roldo Bartimole said, "I think it puts [Sweeney] in a vulnerable position if they can't elect their own people to those seats. They're two seats from the black community that he'd counted on as totally loyal." — Dan Harkins

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