News 5 has been pressing Michael Cox for months about an ongoing investigation into the city's road problems and recently found he's been off the job.
On Your Side Investigators found streets riddled with potholes are getting an "A" grade from the city and those looking perfect getting work done. Currently, Cox has a taken a leave of absence to work for Mayor Frank Jackson on his reelection campaign.
Cox spoke exclusively with News 5 on Friday, and he said taking a leave of absence and getting the mayor reelected is just as important as his work heading up one of the largest city departments. Cox says he chose to leave his post and help the campaign because he feels the city is better off with Jackson as mayor.
“Well what I chose was to serve the Mayor of the City of Cleveland in this capacity, not that it was more important," said Cox when he was asked if he felt the Mayor's reelection campaign was more important than his job as Director of the Public Works Department. "I’ve been a civil servant for 45 years, there’s nothing more important to me than being a civil servant," he said.
Cox will be working full time on Jackson's reelection campaign through October. In the meantime, the Department of Public Works Assistant Director Kim Johnson is serving as Interim Director.
“What I chose to do is help the Mayor in his reelection efforts so he can serve another four years because I believe in what he’s done in the past," said Cox.
According to a city spokesperson and Cox himself, Cox will not be collecting a paycheck from the City or benefits, or contributing to his retirement plan while he is working on the campaign.
"I don't know that there's a conflict of interest," Cox said. "What it is is that you can't do both. You can't work for the city and serve the campaign, so i chose to ask the mayor is I could serve his campaign."
News 5 also spoke exclusively with Mayor Jackson and asked him if he thought it was selfish of Cox to leave his post to help with the reelection.
"No, I think it shows the depth of our department and our city employees," Jackson said. "Kim Johnson has many, many years working with the department and she's been Assistant Director for many years. She knows what to do."