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Cleveland: Veteran councilman Westbrook not seeking reelection

9:43 PM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- One of Cleveland council's senior members, Ward 16 Councilman Jay Westbrook will step down at the end of 2013.

Westbrook represented the mid-west side of Cleveland for more than 30 years. He's been reelected nine times.

He served as Council President 10 years, 1990-1999.

He will not seek reelection.

He was eligible to also start collecting his pension sooner. But he's decided against the double-dipping route chosen by his colleague, Councilman Ken Johnson.

He has served during the tenures of four Mayors: George Voinovich, Mike White, Jane Campbell and Frank Jackson.

Ward 16 includes Denison, West Boulevard, Cudell and Edgewater communities on Cleveland's mid-west side.

Westbrook graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in philosophy with other courses emphasizing music and education.

Before joining council, he worked in community organizing and citizen advocacy. He was a veterans' affairs counselor, a trainer with the American Friends Service Committee and an outreach worker for Legal Aid.

He was a founder of the Ohio Public Interest Campaign, now known as Ohio Citizen Action , a statewide group with more than 350 thousand members.

His legislative achievements include being a prime sponsor of "Bank on Cleveland," a law that connects city fund deposits with affirmative action neighborhood lending. He sponsored a municipal "Right to Know" law that protects neighborhoods and workers against exposure to hazardous and toxic materials, a measure passed before similar federal laws.

He's also been active in the fight against foreclosure issues.

His retirement will be a factor in the current redistricting of council which is losing two seats because of declining population .

Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland Council President Marty Sweeney and other council colleagues praised Westbrook at his announcement Monday.

He's been called the conscience of council. Recently he's been involved with helping council navigate its way through controversial and politically messy situation.

He told Tom Beres the biggest difference between Council when he took office and the 2013 version is that the old council was more about politics and gamesmanship and presently it's more focused on projects and real progress.

Westbrook will remain in office until his term expires in January.


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