Friday, April 17, 2009
Two Cleveland council members resign -- why?
Sabra Pierce Scott and Roosevelt Coats resigned from Cleveland city council yesterday, surprising their colleagues -- and the press. "WTF?" a journalist-friend wrote me this morning.
Coats' move makes the most sense. He's represented South Collinwood for 21 years, and now he's going to run for the Ohio House. It's a seat-switch with state Rep. Eugene Miller, whom Coats will recommend to replace him on council. Coats has tried to move up before -- he ran for county recorder in 1998 and lost to Pat O'Malley -- so this is a good chance for him to advance.
Pierce Scott's decision is the surprise. Not so much the timing, because by leaving at the end of April, she can recommend a successor who'll be the incumbent in the fall council elections. (She's tapping Shari Cloud, executive director of Sankofa Fine Art Plus, the Glenville-based arts organization.) Pierce Scott, a former aide to two city council presidents, was elected in 2001 (here's my article about that race), represented Glenville for two terms, and became council's majority leader, president Martin Sweeney's second-in-command. I interviewed her a few times, and she seemed pretty sharp.
I wonder if this article by Dan Harkins of Scene might help explain. Former state Sen. Jeff Johnson is thinking of running for Pierce Scott's seat this fall. It would've made for a tough campaign -- and with her out of the race, Johnson could be the front-runner, despite his 1998 felony conviction for extorting campaign contributions. (Click here to read Ian Hoffman's Dec. 2007 Cleveland Magazine article on Johnson.)