Zack Reed, Frank Jackson Spar Over Lance Mason Hiring

Zack Reed speaks to media while Fred Ward and members of an ex-offender advocacy group look on. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]

On the last day before the election, the candidates in the race for Cleveland mayor traded jabs over the hiring of a former judge who pled guilty to domestic violence charges in 2015. 

At a press conference Monday morning at city hall, Cleveland mayoral candidate Zack Reed condemned Mayor Frank Jackson for the hiring of former Cuyahoga County Judge Lance Mason.

“Now it comes down to strictly judgement," said Reed. "His judgement has now been lapsed. And after 12 years it’s time for someone new to step in that seat.” 

In August of 2014, Mason was arrested after repeatedly striking his wife while their two young daughters were present. Mason served nine months in prison, was released in June of last year and hired this year to a position in city government.

During Reed’s press conference, members of the Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Necessary Political Action Committee, a Cleveland advocacy organization, stood nearby to argue in favor of the Mason hiring. Fred Ward is with the group.

“And so how do we incorporate people that’s selling drugs and all that if we can’t even let them know that there’s a transition for you to be able to get gainful employment?” asked Ward.

Frank Jackson’s campaign said in a statement that Mason was hired through the standard process, a criminal record doesn’t automatically disqualify an applicant and that the community benefits when ex-offenders can find work.

Reed said that Mason’s offense was severe enough that he should have been disqualified.

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