Great article in the Plain Dealer about the city East Cleveland–Ohio’s poorest city–its new mayor, and the seemingly impossible task of turning it around.
Gary Norton is young (37) and well educated (he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and earned his master’s degree in public administration at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs). And that’s a big change in a city that has been characterized by political mismanagement and corruption. Former Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor was convicted on bribery charges in 2004.
Norton’s election has injected fresh hope in the largely black, inner-ring suburb of Cleveland, which has lost more than 1,500 homes to foreclosure in the past two years–about 500 per mile, the highest in the state.
East Cleveland was once the home of Cleveland’s industrial titans, including John Rockefeller, but many of the breathtaking mansions have been overtaken by weeds and vandals.
Norton’s hoping to leverage the city’s location near the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University to attract some new development. He also has $2.2 million in federal stimulus dollars to attack blight.
On the other hand, the city has a failing school system, a 35 percent poverty rate and the lowest educational attainment stats in Greater Cleveland. Truly, and I’m editorializing here, the challenges in this city cannot be overstated.
I visited this city shortly after moving to Cleveland last year and I was shocked.
But redevelopment officials are encouraged by Norton’s cooperative attitude, according to the article. His leadership helped the city secure a $20 million expansion of Huron Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic satellite, and the city recently began a partnership with the county landbank.