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East Cleveland Mayor Begins Process of Sending Annexation to a Vote

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

The city of East Cleveland is taking its first steps toward becoming a part of Cleveland. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports East Cleveland’s mayor is collecting petition signatures for a merger effort.

At a meeting last night, Mayor Gary Norton told residents that city services—especially emergency staffing—have suffered after the city’s revenue collapsed.

"But if we let this go too far, we’re not talking anymore about how long an ambulance will take to get to you," Norton said. "We’re talking about whether there will be an ambulance at all to get to you."

Some attendees challenged the mayor, questioning whether he was being transparent about the city’s options. Others voiced support for considering annexation.

In a phone interview, Cleveland Marshall College of Law professor Alan Weinstein explained that if the effort garners enough signatures, both cities would appoint a commission to hash out the details of annexation.

"They’re essentially negotiating what, for want of a better term, is a contract between the two cities as to the terms and conditions of the merger," he said.

Weinstein said that work would likely include feasibility studies.

The question would then go to East Cleveland voters. Cleveland city council could either submit the proposal to a vote by its own residents, state law indicates, or could begin annexation without putting it on the ballot.

The petition circulated by East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton urges city council to appoint commissioners to negotiate annexation with Cleveland. (Nick Castele/ideastream)

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