Zack Reed Will Announce Mayoral Candidacy Today


Councilman Zack Reed and others at a Public Square rally. - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Councilman Zack Reed and others at a Public Square rally.
City Councilman Zack Reed will announce his mayoral candidacy this afternoon at a press conference at the Murtis Taylor Human Services Center on Kinsman. Reed intended to make his announcement Monday, he said, but postponed the event in light of the Easter murder of Robert Godwin Sr.

A website for Reed has already gone live - "New Leadership. New Vision. New Mayor." goes the campaign tagline.

On his site, Reed has identified two key policy areas that will be central to his opposition of both Mayor Frank Jackson and challenger Jeff Johnson, his council colleague: Jobs and Public Safety.

Reed has long been outraged at the lack of urgency about gun violence in the city. He has brought visual aids to council meetings to chart the annual rise in gun deaths. Last year's total: 136. It was Cleveland's most violent year in a decade. The biggest plank on his safety platform, says Reed, will be the hiring of 400 new police officers.

His jobs policies come directly from his views on public safety. "Nothing stops a bullet like a job," he often says in council meetings.  His plan is to give every teenager in Cleveland (between the ages of 14 and 18) the "opportunity" to have a summer job. My “Hire a Youth Campaign" will be a joint public private partnership," Reed's website says.

And while "Safety" will likely be Reed's calling card — much like "Neighborhoods" has been Jeff Johnson's —  his most exciting, most original, and among his most realistic policy proposals relates to rehabilitating Cleveland neighborhoods, particularly those destroyed by the financial crisis. His so-called “Rebuilding Homes and Rebuilding Neighborhoods Campaign" is downright Chrostowski-esque. He wants to hire formerly incarcerated people, or unemployed people, to the city's department of building and housing to form a corps of entry-level laborers who rehab homes across town. These are homes that contribute to neighborhood blight, Reed told Scene, but that might not need to be demolished.

Though the primaries are still five months away, Reed is the last among the major presumed candidates to enter the fray. The addition is an interesting one for voters. Both Jeff Johnson and Zack Reed are outspoken dissidents on council. (Reed's colleagues often roll their eyes or start paying attention to their mobile devices when he begins an off-topic speech in committee hearings.) And both are strong critics of Jackson, especially recently.

One wonders (wistfully) about the campaign dynamics if Jackson had, instead of running himself, handpicked a successor: someone like Kevin Kelley, or his trusted adviser Valarie McCall, or even his campaign chief and community relations director Blaine Griffin, who's rumored to be on the precipice of installation on city council...

Reed was among the loudest voices punishing Jackson for his stubbornness and stupidity on Public Square and has been a (sometimes unexpected) presence at local protests. He attended, in addition to multiple Clevelanders for Public Transit events, the Hopkins Airport protest after President Trump's travel ban (alongside councilmen Kerry McCormack and Brian Cummins) and was on the front lines later that week at Market Square for a similar demonstration. These could be interpreted, even at the time, as early visibility efforts for the current citywide campaign.

His support for the transit community is likely to be the subject of a few stingers — Reed was obliged to walk and take the bus after his most recent DUI in 2013, (his third). Reed is convinced, though, that his DUIs will be a smaller hurdle for voters than Johnson's felony extortion conviction.

"Everyone knows somebody who's had a DUI," Reed told Scene earlier this month, in a conversation about his potential candidacy. "The black community's already forgiven me. And I do better across the river than Jeff."

Reed told Scene that he will outline and elaborate on his policy agenda at this afternoon's announcement.

It's shaping up to be a fun political summer on the shores of Lake Erie.

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