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East Cleveland Votes to Recall Mayor, Council President

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton speaks at a meeting in May. (Nick Castele / ideastream)
East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton speaks at a meeting in May.

by Nick Castele

East Cleveland voters decided by narrow margins to remove the city’s mayor and council president from office. 

Unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections show that Mayor Gary Norton lost his hold on office by 20 votes out of more than 1,000 cast. Council President Thomas Wheeler was recalled by a 4 percent margin, or 18 votes.

“I love the people of East Cleveland and it has been an honor to have served them,” Norton said in written statement Tuesday night. 

It was a low-turnout election: 8.75 percent of East Cleveland’s registered voters cast ballots in the recall.

The results will be certified by the board of elections on Dec. 19. According to East Cleveland’s city charter, officials removed by recall won’t be considered out of office until that certification.

The city charter says if the mayor is removed from office, the council president will take the job, followed by the council vice president.

East Cleveland spent 17 years in a state of fiscal emergency. The state of Ohio removed that designation in 2006, only to declare the city in fiscal emergency again in 2012.

Norton and city council had begun the process of negotiating a merger with neighboring Cleveland, but those efforts have stalled.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.