Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dems pick Bedford's Bob Reid as new sheriff

Democrats chose Bob Reid, Bedford's city manager and safety director, as the new Cuyahoga County sheriff this morning.

Reid (pictured), who was Bedford police chief for 10 years, beat Clayton Harris, police chief and police academy commander at Cuyahoga Community College, by a 280-206 vote. Jimmy Dimora, party chairman and county commissioner, said Reid will likely take over from interim sheriff Frank Bova on Wednesday.

"Professional law enforcement will always be first," Reid promised the county Democrats' central committee members, gathered at downtown's Music Hall, before the vote. "If appointed this morning, I can assure you that the residents of Cuyahoga County will be extremely proud of the Cuyahoga County sheriff's department." Reid also promised diversity in hiring at the sheriff's office. He said he supported the efforts to process county jail prisoners faster, including early release for defendants accused of non-violent felonies.

Reid also said he would listen to his staff and value their input -- which sounds like an everyday promise unless you read today's Plain Dealer story about life under ex-sheriff Gerald McFaul. "Talented people work best when they know their opinion counts," Reid said.

Reid joined the Bedford police in 1975 and worked his way up to police chief, then switched to the civilian side of Bedford City Hall to manage the town for the mayor and city council.

Lakewood Mayor Ed FitzGerald, a Reid supporter, told me he likes Reid's combination of law-enforcement and city management experience. The sheriff's office is "crying out for professional management," FitzGerald said. "He's a good fit."

Dimora presided over the meeting, but FitzGerald told me the party chair had kept a low profile in the race. Though Dimora is reportedly a friend of Reid's, FitzGerald says he did not know of Dimora making any calls to lobby for Reid.

Reid's support came mostly from suburban mayors and councilpeople, while Harris had the backing of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge.

Most suburbs went for Reid, while most Cleveland wards went for Harris. Lots of East Side wards gave all their votes to Harris, and he won a majority in only five suburbs: Cleveland Heights, Fairview Park, East Cleveland, Shaker Heights, and Warrensville Heights. Reid racked up totals such as 30-0 in Strongsville and 11-0 in Middleburg Heights, and also won in Cleveland's Old Brooklyn, Detroit-Shoreway and West Park neighborhoods. Applause broke out when Fairview Park and Cleveland's West Side wards 18 and 19 went for Harris -- which struck me as a sign that Harris supporters were surprised and excited when a community's votes didn't follow racial lines.

Music Hall, the city's beautiful and under-used 1910s theater behind Public Auditorium, looked great in a rare public moment. Stone comedy and tragedy masks smiled and frowned at the crowd from far above the blue stage curtains. The city may sell Music Hall and Public Auditorium to the county this week as part of the convention center deal. Mayor Jackson, who was greeting Democrats on the Mall after the vote, confirmed to me that he hopes to nail down a deal on Monday.

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