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Longtime labor leader appointed to fill Ward 11 vacancy on Cleveland City Council

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-09 19:09:19-05

CLEVELAND — For the second time in less than three years, residents of Cleveland’s Ward 11, which includes parts of the West Side’s Edgewater, Cudell, Jefferson and Bellaire-Puritas neighborhoods, will have a new representative on the city council. Longtime labor leader Danny Kelly, who was most recently a recruiter for CMSD, was appointed to fill the vacancy of Brian Mooney, who will be leaving his position on city council after winning a seat on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas bench.

The full council is expected to unanimously approve Kelly’s appointment at its meeting Monday night. Kelly’s appointment sailed through a City Council caucus meeting Monday afternoon.

Kelly has been a member of Laborers’ Local 310 for more than four decades and has been an active member of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. Most recently, Kelly worked for the CMSD as a student-family recruiter.

“It’s probably the most difficult job in the city, being a council person,” Kelly said at Monday’s caucus meeting. “When [Brian Mooney] called me, I asked for a couple of days and prayed on it, thought on it, before I accepted it.”

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Mooney told his fellow council members that his primary goal leading up to the appointment process was to ensure that Ward 11 residents and the council itself would not be left without a sitting city council member.

“I thought my citizens, my residents, and everyone here, deserved to have as seamless of a transition as they could and not have a vacancy,” Mooney said. “We conducted interviews and it became clear and it came into focus that there was one person above the rest, a person that stood above the rest. A lot of people can do our job, the mechanics of the job, but it’s more than that. I wanted somebody that would be excellent at constituent services and somebody with compassion.”

In line with longstanding council tradition, outgoing council members typically nominate their replacement. The rest of the council typically affirms their choice.

Kelly’s appointment marks the third time since 2020 that Ward 11 residents will have a new city council representative. In January 2020, longtime former Councilwoman Dona Brady announced her resignation, which set the stage for Mooney’s appointment. Mooney served out the remainder of Brady’s term and won election in 2021.

One year later, Mooney narrowly won a seat as a county common pleas judge.

Because Mooney’s departure is occurring within the first two years of his four year term, a permanent successor will be determined through a special election this November. A primary will be held in September.

In his brief address during Monday’s caucus meeting, Kelly said his experience in the building trades have a lot of operational similarities to the city council.

“The building goes up every few feet at a time but it doesn’t go up unless every craft does their job in unison,” Kelly said.