In a caucus Monday afternoon, Cleveland City Council appointed Brian Kazy, 2013 council candidate and avid little league coach
, to fill the slot vacated by Martin Sweeney. As the council members lavished praise on the family man Kazy, Sweeney was being sworn in as a state rep down in Columbus.
Kazy, though not currently a Ward 16 resident, was nonetheless Sweeney's personal recommendation. Council honors outgoing members' recommendations as a rule, though the PD
's editorial board has certainly had enough
of what it deems a shady practice. In a column this weekend, they urged council to "not rubber stamp" Sweeney's replacement.
But alas. Councilman Brian Cummins, who defeated Kazy in the Ward 14 election in 2013, was the only member present who even wanted to discuss the nomination.
Did the recommendation come directly from Sweeney? Cummins wanted to know. What was the vetting process? Was there any precedent for appointing a candidate who doesn't live in the Ward he's being nominated to represent?
Counzil President Kevin Kelley said that Sweeney did indeed make the recommendation; that he (Kelley) took at least some small part in the vetting process, having spoken with a handful of potential candidates; and that, per city charter, council members need not live in the ward they serve.
Council unanimously appointed Kazy after the invocation of something called the "unit rule."
Per the NEOMG's Leila Atassi — she explained it much more clearly than Kelley did — the unit rule requires "all members to vote with the majority or face banishment from future caucus meetings."
Kazy thanked his new colleagues and assured them that he and his wife and five children are in the process of moving to Ward 16. They've picked out a house and expect to close on it by the end of January.
Both Councilmen Matt Zone and Marty Keane praised Kazy for his character, his commitment and his championing of people with special needs. Kazy's daughter has downs syndrome. His decision to move to Ward 16 was "a significant step," said Keane, which demonstrated both "commitment and service to the City of Cleveland."
Kelley closed the meeting by saying council was welcoming a man of "great integrity and character" to their ranks.
But possibly not for long. Kazy will have to run in the September primaries and November general elections to retain his Ward 16 seat.
When Councilman T.J. Dow inquired what Kazy hopes to accomplish in his nine months in office, Kazy responded that he was expecting to hear a lot about potholes and snow removal.
"And I'm excited to work on the city budget," Kazy said, to widespread laughter, "and just getting out there and knocking on doors, getting to know the community."