There’s a new sheriff in town. Nobody be alarmed.

Last Saturday morning, county Dems huddled up by precinct inside the soon-to-be-spruced Cleveland Public Hall to choose the second sheriff in nearly two generations that will maybe — who knows? — care about little things like, well, enforcing the law. With two candidates whittled down from 13 — one tall and black from Central Cleveland’s projects, the other short and not-black or once-poor from Bedford Heights — no better view could be had region-wide to witness the precarious balance that still exists between city and suburbs.

Word came in before the big day that ex-Bedford Police Chief Robert Reid, current Bedford city manager and all-around mayors and managers association schmoozer, was the party pick over Clayton Harris, chief of Tri-C’s police, as well as its police academy, and all-around can of whoop-ass as a former Cleveland police commander with a master’s degree in business administration just to hang it in your face. Leading up to the vote, everybody, black and white, was talking about why Reid was probably going to win, even though it was evident to most everyone who witnessed their resumes and speaking ability put side to side that Harris would really be the one to restore confidence after three decades of Gerald McFool. And let’s not forget about the several months of federal investigations into alleged county corruption, favoritism and rule-bending allowed under county Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, the county boss.

“Seems that a large amount of people are for Dimora’s pick,” said Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell, chair of Council’s Public Safety Committee, who was schmoozing around inside the front doors, past all the leafleteers and last-minute smokers. “I’m hoping [for] Harris, but who knows. The black establishment is solidly dominant in city politics, but the outlying municipalities are strongly represented in county politics.”

CoolCleveland.com columnist Mansfield Frazier was all smiles as he loudly went group to group with an observation: “Looking at the panel, I was just wondering how black people are represented around here.”

Dimora, who worked his way up from janitor to mayor to his current perch with his name on his hometown of Bedford’s recreation center, mastered the ceremony with charm and a dusting of self-deprecation. Around him on the stage is a panel of party officers, all white except Cleveland Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell, who was quickly called forward as recording secretary to read a bulletin and returned quietly to her seat at the end of a long table. Vice chair Pat Britt, a black woman, wasn’t on the stage.

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