Sam Allard / Scene
Joe Cimperman gets another big sendoff at Monday's caucus. McCormack (L), says he has big shoes to fill.
At its caucus Monday morning, Cleveland City Council invoked the "unit rule" to unanimously nominate 27-year-old Kerry McCormack as Councilman Joe Cimperman's successor in Ward 3, an area which encompasses downtown Cleveland and the Near West Side. McCormack will be sworn in Monday evening, after the clerk of council officially declares the vacancy.
Cimperman, who received a standing ovation from his colleagues, introduced McCormack as his choice using the same language that he's used in recent weeks
: McCormack has a "heart of service," for instance; he is bilingual; he is as responsive to the needs of residents on Jay Avenue in $250,000 homes as he is to the needs of residents in public housing down the street.
"I had the opportunity to interview several dozen people," Cimperman said, (a breath of fresh air, if true, given that as recently as 2015, the "tradition" of City Council members appointing their own successors has been seen as the stuff of shady backroom deals. When Marty Sweeney selected Brian Kazy to replace him early last year, the Plain Dealer editorial board cried foul
, and with good reason).
But Cimperman has been forthcoming about his interview process and about the merits of McCormack as heir.
"He is already doing the job that we're all doing, in so many ways, in Ohio City," said Cimperman. "He is a son of the east side and a resident of the west side, and as someone who knows that story (Cimperman was born to Slovenian parents on E. 74th and now lives in Ohio City, on W. 45th St.) you have to have that binary ability. My wife often says you have to recognize that Lakeview Tower and Terminal Tower are in the same ward, and both deserve your attention."
McCormack briefly addressed the body, acknowledging Cimperman's "incredible compassion," and "awe-inspiring" desire to see people of all backgrounds take part in Cleveland's growth.
"Today is an honor and privilege for me," McCormack said, "to attempt to fill the huge shoes of Councilman Cimperman."
The festive atmosphere was marked not only by McCormack's admission of his middle name — it's Potter
, i.e. Kerry Potter McCormack, (#Gryffindor???) — but by Councilman Mike Polensek's endorsement of McCormack's cred.
"Kerry comes from wonderful stock," Polensek said. "His mom and dad are both neighborhood activists and care about this city. He's a good Irishman from Collinwood. He has good roots and he'll do a wonderful job. And just to have a VA-St. Joe's boy here — not from Ignatius, not from Ed's — does wonders for the body. I support him overwhelmingly."
Both Council President Kevin Kelley and Councilman Matt Zone said they were excited to have McCormack's fresh perspective on important legislation.
"Joe was like our millennial on council," Zone said, "even though he's been here a long time. And I think now, having someone like Kerry on board will give us a unique perspective as we're moving policy forward."
After the invocation of the unit rule, the council members verbally nominated McCormack one by one. There was some clarification before the vote — was it McCormack
or more like McCormick? —
but all the council members did their best, uttering the name of their new colleague in their own way.
- "Kerry McCormack," intoned Council President Kelly, setting a precedent, silencing the crowd.
- "Kerry McCormack," said Councilwoman Brady, trailing off.
- "Kerry P. McCormack," said Brancatelli, stately and signatory.
- "Kerry McCormack," enunciated Phyllis Cleveland, almost as if a period separated the first and last name.
- "Kerry McCormack," said Cummins quickly.
- "Kerry McCormack," agreed Kazy, with hands on his face.
- "Kerry McCormack," said Keane, all business.
- "Kerry McCormack," said Mitchell, really emphasizing the -mack.
- "Kerry McCormack," announced Mike Polensek, almost as if he were introducing himself.
- "Kerry Potter McCormack," said Majority Whip Terrell Pruitt, to laughs.
- "Kerry McCormack," said Zone with a lilt, and the gathered city legislature half expected an Irish limmerick or toast to follow thereafter.