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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is retiring, and for the first time in 16 years, City Hall is getting a new leader. What do the seven candidates offer? What do voters want? Host Nick Castele goes on the campaign trail in "After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor" from Ideastream Public Media. Follow: Spotify | iTunes | Stitcher | Feed

After Jackson - Episode 5: The Chief

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams speaks to a reporter after a press conference in Cleveland, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. [Dake Kang / AP]
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams speaks to a reporter after a press conference in Cleveland, Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

One of the first major decisions the new Mayor of Cleveland will have to make is about the future of Cleveland Chief of Police Calvin Williams.

It’s hard to find a ringing endorsement of Williams these days.

Among the seven candidates for Cleveland mayor, views on Williams’ future can be summed up in two ways: Either he’s out or “we’ll see.”

Former Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed and political newcomer Justin Bibb were emphatic that Williams would be replaced if one of them becomes mayor.

Councilman Basheer Jones is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“You know, the transition team is going to help me decide. The commissions will help me decide. The activists will help me decide. Police officers will help me. The community will help us decide,” he told Ideastream Public Media.

Williams has seen a lot since he was sworn in in 2014 — a scathing report from the U.S. Department of Justice that found excessive use of force, the fatal police shooting of Tamir Rice, policy reforms under the consent decree with DOJ, and a rising violent crime rate.

After 35 years serving with the Division of Police, could Williams' career with the department be coming to an end?

Cleveland Police Chief, Calvin Williams, center, stands at a barricade of bicycle mounted officers during a protest march on Tuesday, July 19, 2016, in Cleveland, during the second day of the Republican National Convention. Among Williams' career high points was the widely hailed professionalism shown by Cleveland police during the RNC. [John Minchillo / AP]

Plus, last night, the seven candidates for mayor joined us here at the Idea Center for the first of two debates hosted by Ideastream Public Media and the City Club of Cleveland.

Typically, the moderators write the questions. But this time, we turned the microphone over to you, our listeners and our community here in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

State Sen. Sandra Williams, Council President Kevin Kelley, attorney Ross DiBello, former City Councilman Zack Reed, nonprofit executive Justin Bibb, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich and City Councilman Basheer Jones all took their places behind lecterns – and listened to you. Hear an excerpt from the debate in this week's episode.

Bibb and Reed during the Tuesday night debate, moderated by Ideastream Public Media's Rick Jackson. [Michaelangelo’s Photography]

Follow “After Jackson: Cleveland's Next Mayor” on NPR One, iTunes or on your favorite podcast platform. Or catch it every Wednesday at 9 a.m. on the “Sound of Ideas” on 90.3 WCPN.

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