Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who Wants to be Mayor of East Cleveland? -- my profile of Gary Norton

"Who Wants to be Mayor of East Cleveland?" -- my profile of mayor-elect Gary Norton -- appears in the December issue of Cleveland Magazine and is online now.

It's the first in-depth profile of Norton, 37, a diplomat with a soothingly upbeat temperament and a protégé of county commissioner Peter Lawson Jones and the late U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Norton, who takes charge of troubled East Cleveland on Jan. 1, hopes to lead his city past his predecessors' scandals and take advantage of its prime location near University Circle to attract businesses and residents. “I need people to start thinking about East Cleveland,” he says.

“This is going to be the test of his lifetime,” says fellow city councilman Nathaniel Martin. “East Cleveland is going to be his challenge. It could be his victory or his Waterloo.”

My profile tells Norton's life story, from early struggles to political influences to his September election victory over controversial incumbent Eric Brewer. It follows Norton through East Cleveland as he explains his plans to tackle his city's challenges. In a ground-breaking comment, he says he's open-minded about a once-taboo subject: the idea that Cleveland should annex East Cleveland.

“If remaining its own city is best for East Cleveland, that’s what we do,” Norton says. “If a merger is best for East Cleveland, that’s what we do.”

(If you'd like to link to my story, you can use this shortcut: tinyurl.com/CMNorton.)

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