East Cleveland mayor barely keeps seat; councilman ousted following recall election

Brandon King
Posted at 5:46 PM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 18:50:25-05

CLEVELAND — The mayor of East Cleveland has survived the attempt to recall him, but one of his councilmembers wasn't so fortunate, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections official election certification Tuesday.

Just 19 votes were the determining factor to who is leading the east side of Cleveland, and Mayor Brandon King held onto his seat.

Some voters, like Lateek Shabazz fought back against the leaders they say aren't making a difference.

"In my ward, every other street light is out and some of the street signs are down," Shabazz said. "So when it’s dark like that, you are inviting crime.”

Some voters say the elected officials are making a difference for the worse.

In a bizarre, 17-minute Facebook Live rant from 2019 that has since been deleted from his page, East Cleveland Councilman Ernest Smith said he did not bring underage girls from Detroit to a back-to-school fundraiser at a property he apparently operates, something that no law enforcement agency has formally accused him of.

Smith also denied selling liquor at a party in 2019, but did admit that he did go to jail for a “slight misdemeanor.” He claims he was “targeted in a setup.”

RELATED: East Cleveland councilman says he did not bring girls from Detroit to back-to-school fundraiser

News 5 reached out to King and to Smith, but hasn't heard back.

But enough voters were like Councilman Nathaniel Martin, who said it was unproductive and damaging to a city that needs unity to deal with its many financial issues.

Those in favor of the recall alleged King is guilty of improper spending, the personal use of city contractors, and partly responsible for a police department that's had nine officers indicted in the past few years.

Smith lost his job by more than 150 votes, which is a margin of about 58-42%.

Neither of these races will trigger an automatic recount, but the Board of Elections says it will conduct them if asked. To get a recount, each precinct in the area would need to pay a $65 deposit to the county and that money would need to be raised by whoever wants the recount.

The council gets to appoint someone to the position until a new member is elected.

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