Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Councilman Zack Reed met in their first and only debate in their race for Cleveland mayor Thursday. The City Club back and forth was at times lively with both candidates focusing on the future.
Jackson, who is seeking his fourth four-year term, said he’s running to finish what he started in the area of education reform, neighborhood and city development and public safety. Reed, a four-term councilman, said he’s running to make Cleveland and its neighborhoods safer, while ending double digit poverty and high unemployment.
Both men were critical of each other’s record while serving the city.
“Councilman in your ward, your ward has one of the highest homicide rates, but you then point to this councilman [Matt Zone] and say what great work that he did,” said Jackson. “What did you do in your ward to ensure economic development in your ward what did you do? You did nothing."
“Where is his plan?” Reed responded. “As we sit in this room, 94 people have already been killed in this City of Cleveland, we're going on four consecutive years of 100+ homicides, where is his plan to stop it. So when he talks about me not having a plan, he doesn't have a plan because he just sat and sat and sat and said, you know what his famous words are, it is what it is."
Jackson was asked about his decision to run a radio ad highlighting Reed's three DUI’s, and defended it saying it speaks to judgment and accountability.
"You have to have good judgment you have to be responsible,” Jackson said. “He's never accepted responsibility for anything it's always somebody else's fault.”
Reed took issue with that.
“Don't let somebody tell you I didn't do something, I did do something and I’m a better person today because I went to the Cleveland Clinic, I’m a better person today because I went to the rooms of AA, I'm a better person today because my lord and savior Jesus Christ helped me, so I did do something."
In their closing statements both talked about who had the tools to lead the city going forward.
“This is not about amateur hour,” Jackson said of Reed. “This is not about rookies, this is not about inexperience. This is about how do we move this city forward and how do we move the people of this city forward.”
Reed called on the mayor to check his own resume.
“When he became the mayor he worked in the prosecutor's office and then he became a councilperson and now he's mayor. I worked in the Federal government, the state government, the county government and now in the city government. So when he tells you I don't have the experience I have way more experience than he had when he became mayor of the city of Cleveland."