While several of the major presumed candidates for Cleveland mayor continue to dawdle
, long shot Republican candidate Landry Simmons Jr. is actively campaigning.
The West Park resident told Scene that he formally launched his campaign in March, has pulled petitions at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and has been gathering signatures the best he can, though he admitted it was slow going due to safety precautions and resident timidity due to Covid-19. (He said he had no doubt, though, that he'd manage to get the required 3,000 signatures by the June 16 filing deadline.)
Simmons, 52, is a 30-year veteran of local law enforcement and a current elected committee member of the Cuyahoga County GOP. He said he's running for Mayor because the state of Cleveland and its leadership is "unacceptable."
"The crime in this city has gotten worse than I ever remember it," he told Scene in a phone interview Thursday. "Things have gotten out of control, and I think I can make quick and effective change."
Some of Simmons' proposed responses to what he characterized as an unprecedented crime wave sounded simple enough — increased accountability for officers, for example, and an emphasis on continuing education at all levels of public safety — but he also espoused more drastic measures.
"If I'm elected," he said, "I'm getting rid of the Consent Decree. It's done nothing but set the city back."
Simmons said he wouldn't think twice about altering the police's pursuit policy — "It's a no
pursuit policy, and it's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen," he said — and would strive to achieve a level of professionalism akin to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, which he said had much better policies and procedures in place. (Simmons works for the Sheriff's Department.) He also rejected the idea of reallocating funds from public safety to other areas of the city budget.
"I'm against that 100 percent," he said. "Law enforcement is expensive and funds need to be allocated properly."
On other topics, Simmons said he was interested in revitalizing Cleveland as a tourist destination and in attracting new businesses to Cleveland via tax abatements and other subsidies. He said that his three biggest post-pandemic priorities were ensuring the vaccination and safety of the city's most vulnerable, especially the elderly; investing in small businesses to jump start the local economy; and prioritizing schools to ensure that students return safely, effectively and full-time.
Simmons balked at the idea that his Republican party affiliation should be treated any differently than other candidates running for office in Cleveland.
"I tell all people this," he said. "It's not about what party you belong to. It's about doing right by the City of Cleveland. We've got to clean up this city. We've got to battle this crime. We've got to bring back jobs and bring up the schools. Those issues have nothing to do with your party."
Like other candidates, Simmons said the status quo simply has to change. But also like other candidates, he harbored no ill will toward incumbent Frank Jackson.
"I know Frank. I know the Jacksons," he said. "His brother Anthony was my boss at CMHA. Frank's a nice guy. I tell people, you can't get mad at Frank Jackson. Frank did nothing, sure, but he promised nothing, so how can you get mad?"
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