Cleveland City Council
Ward 17 Councilman Martin Keane
Shortly before the Cleveland Browns took the field Thursday evening, Cleveland City Councilman Martin Keane announced at a Ward 17 Democratic Club meeting that he will be resigning from his elected position, effective Monday, Nov. 25.
The news came as a shock to members of the club. Keane made the announcement shortly after he arrived and said it was the first time he'd spoken the news out loud to anyone other than his family.
Many of the politically active residents in the Kamm's Corners, West Park and Puritas neighborhoods have noted an increasing agitation and even hostility in their councilman over the past six months, including a less than cordial relationship with the lately re-branded West Park Kamm's Development Corporation.
"It's been a weird time in Ward 17," one meeting attendee said. "But this definitely took us by surprise."
Keane did not immediately respond to Scene's request for comment about his decision, but a member of the Democratic Club who was present at the meeting spoke with Scene, and said that Keane explained his decision by saying he wanted to do right by his family, to get them "out of the spotlight."
"He talked a lot about his family," the club member said, "but it was pretty obvious that he hated his job."
Keane told the club that he would be taking an unknown position at City Hall — even Keane himself evidently doesn't know what role he'll be stepping into, further evidence to some observers that he just wanted out — and that he had already selected a successor.
That man is reportedly Charles Slife, an Avon Lake native who lives near Riverside School in Ward 17 with his wife and 11-month-old son. In recent weeks, Slife stepped down from his board seat at West Park Kamm's CDC, citing "personal reasons." That move makes sense in light of Thursday night's news.
Slife, a Miami of Ohio alum, worked for seven years for the City of Cleveland in the department of economic development and now works as a corporate location consultant
for a local consulting firm.
In an emailed statement, Slife told Scene he credited Councilman Keane for his passion and advocacy in the ward, and while not confirming any agreements with the councilman, said that if he were to be
"I’d like to build on our neighborhood’s strengths and be a vocal advocate for living and investing in both Ward 17 and Cleveland as a whole. I also believe that neighborhood residents have a deep interest in city services. I’m hopeful that my experience would give me a special ability to connect people to their local government."
If Slife is indeed Keane's choice, as Keane told the Democratic Club, he will no doubt be unanimously approved by City Council colleagues, in keeping with the legislative body's anti-democratic tradition.
Keane timed his resignation, in fact, to minimize his own term and maximize the term of his unelected successor. The city charter stipulates
that council vacancies "shall be filled by the Council for the unexpired term" unless the vacancy occurs "at any time which is more than two years
before the next regular Municipal election," (italics added).
Keane waited precisely for the two-year threshold — last week's elections — and then announced that he'd be bowing out.
The Ward 17 Councilman was first elected to the body in 2007. He is chairman of council's Utilities Committee and vice chairman of its Transportation Committee.
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