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Monday, March 10, 2008

In Cleveland's Ward 6, a race for a new councilman might decide Martin Sweeney’s future

Posted By on Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 3:40 PM

Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney’s sexual harassment scandal is having powerful repercussions—none of them good for him and his future as the council’s leader. After Council Clerk Emily Lipovan accused Sweeney of harassing her last year, and then took a $60,000 payout from the city to leave city hall, Councilwoman Pat Britt moved into the clerk post. But that left an opening for Britt’s Ward 6 seat, which covers the area around Fairfax, the Cleveland Clinic, and Little Italy. ... Now everyone’s watching the race to become Britt’s replacement, because Sweeney’s job may hang in the balance. Insiders say his grip on the council presidency is tenuous, with the number of council members opposed to his leadership growing by the day. They already don’t like him because he’s a lap dog for Mayor Frank Jackson. Forcing them to pay more than $87,000 to settle Lipovan’s complaint – those legal fees get you every time -- didn’t win any hearts, either. Now he’s talking about reducing council’s size – an idea worth kicking around in a rapidly shrinking city, but not the surest way to win over your colleagues. Mamie Mitchell, who was appointed to fill the Ward 6 seat in January, is said to support Sweeney. But she’ll have to fend off five challengers (John Boyd, Yvonne Grimes, James Thomas Jr., Ernest Turner, and Bill Walker) in a special March primary, and then win a general election on April 22 to keep her seat. And those opponents may not all feel the same way about Sweeney. If an anti-Sweeney candidate – or anyone who decides being anti-Sweeney might help them get elected – ends up winning the seat, the council members trying to give Sweeney the boot will only need a couple more votes to succeed. If you’re a Ward 6 voter, or simply find perverse entertainment in watching a hodgepodge of political novices scrap it out in public, check out the Ward 6 candidates forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday night, at Antioch Baptist Church, 8869 Cedar Avenue. – Lisa Rab

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