CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - All in one day: 6th Ward Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell's resigned, chose Blaine Griffin as her successor, he was unanimously recommended by Cleveland City Council to fill her seat and sworn in as the new representative.
As the former executive director of the Community Relations Board Griffin has focused on developing and building relationships and friendships between the city of Cleveland, police, business owners and residents.
That mission will not change, only help in his new position.
"One of the first things I would like to do is prioritize safety. I want to have a comprehensive plan on safety, of course that would include law enforcement but it would make sure that we empower residents and use technology to its fullest," Councilman Griffin stated.
Abandoned buildings and houses not only bring property value down but put citizens in danger. Something else on Griffin's agenda.
"I really want deal with abandoned and vacant property to make sure we have a remediation plan to rehab properties that can be rehabilitated and demolish homes that need to be demolished," said Griffin. "Because there are so many doctors and employees at the Cleveland Clinic, we are really trying to build new housing, put incentives in place for them to move back into the inner city. Most of cranes you see in the area are in the area where I am serving now. We are really working hard to build up the neighborhoods for the residents."
Griffin is a graduate of Wilson High School in Youngstown and Malone College in Canton. His Communications degree has been put to good use working on several campaigns. In 2012 he helped lead the first successful school levy campaign in Cleveland in 16 years, which was built around reforming education. That following year he help run Mayor Frank Jackson's successful reelection campaign. Then, in 2016, Griffin helped pass Cleveland's first income tax hike in 35 years, Issue 32.
"That generated $83 million additional revenue for the city of Cleveland, yearly, in order to fill a $40 million gap and also so we can hire more police officers, have more potholes filled and more investments in infrastructure," said Griffin.
While walking up Larchmere Boulevard, Griffin was quick to note that many of the homeowners are lifelong residents. He and his wife raised three sons and have lived in the area for nearly 20 years. After having lost his first bid for city council in 2001, when the opportunity arose for him again, Griffin did not think twice about it, even though the new position would also mean a huge pay cut.
"I've lived here for a long time. During my time at East End [Neighborhood House] I've come to know a lot of people and have become familiar with their situations. I felt it was time for me to give back and help the community I live in. I know I can do this as a councilman," said Griffin.
Historical churches, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court are just a few, but important, businesses that make up the 6th Ward. Griffin makes it a point to get to know those who run big companies as well small business owners because they are critical to the city. In fact, one-quarter of the city's income tax is generated in the 6th Ward.
"Twenty-five percent of the city's general fund is in generated in Ward 6. Fifty percent is from downtown and the other 25 percent comes from the rest of the city," said Griffin.
One of the main projects currently taking place in Ward 6 is the Opportunity Corridor. The Opportunity Corridor will be a direct route east to west from East 55th Street to East 105th Street and then north five lanes strong into University Circle.
"The first leg of the Opportunity Corridor goes through the forgotten, distressed parts of the city but we don't just want a freeway to go through the neighborhood, we want to make sure that they put in infrastructure improvements. We want to make sure that the people in the neighborhood get an opportunity to work on the projects. We to make sure that it's really an opportunity for folks in the neighborhood to participate and really receive a community benefit from it," Griffin said.
Infant mortality, preschool education and breathing new life into businesses that have relocated, like Giant Eagle, are only few items on Griffin's very long to-do list.
Griffin may be able to start on that list but to finish it he has to win the General Election in November. Before that he'll have to compete with at least eight other candidates in September with the same goal in mind, and that is to fill that same Ward 6 seat.
Those candidates include:
- S. Xavier Allen
- James Jerome Bell
- John A. Boyd
- Joshua Perkins McHamm
- Lavitta Murray
- David Roney
- Dylan Sellers
- James Thomas Jr.
Ward 6 is made up of Fairfax, Larchmere, Little Italy, Woodland Hills, Buckeye-Shaker and parts of University Circle, North Broadway, Slavic Village and Union-Miles.
"I want to make sure, too, that we tie the assets up that we have in Ward 6 and connect them with real opportunities for occupations for people in the Ward 6 area. We have a great opportunity and a lot of distressed areas but it's my job to make sure we connect those assets with the people," Griffin added.