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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Councilman Zack Reed Talk Police, Downtown In Their Only Debate

photo of Frank Jackson, Zack Reed

The two candidates in the Cleveland mayoral race met for their only debate today, with both men saying they have the vision to lead the city forward – and that their opponent has no plans at all.

Councilman Zack Reed and Mayor Frank Jackson discussed downtown development, community policing and even the city’s proposed dirt bike track during the one-hour debate at the City Club.

Reed says – if elected – he would hold open office hours on Saturdays, which is in contrast to his opponent.

“He talks about the reconciliation and the dialogue and the conversation. But he closed down Public Square without one community meeting – without one. That’s not reconciliation. That’s not sitting down with the other parties. That’s one man that believes that he didn’t get elected Mayor; that he got elected dictator.”

Later in the debate, Jackson clarified that he did not initially want to close Public Square, but rather he wanted a study on what effect closing the square would have on public transportation.

Jackson garnered brief applause – the only time for either candidate – when he said Reed only identifies problems instead of offering solutions.

Mayor Jackson on plans for the future

“How are you going to build your wall? How are you going to create the environment that allows for investment? I have demonstrated that I’ve done it. I’ve done it. I’ve done it because that’s what I do every day. I just don’t have a conversation about pointing out misinformation or pointing out faults of other people.”

Jackson was also asked about campaign ads released this month that mention Reed’s drunk driving arrests. The mayor said they were not meant to make issue of the arrests, but of judgment and accountability. Reed countered by saying he has dealt with the issue with help from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Cleveland Clinic and faith leaders.


Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.