DUIs, dirt bikes and Fs: What you may have missed during the Cleveland mayoral debate

DUIs, dirt bikes and Fs: What you may have missed during the Cleveland mayoral debate

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- In just a couple of weeks voters in Cleveland will decide whether Mayor Frank Jackson should get a fourth term or if 16 year Councilman Zack Reed should take his seat.

On Thursday afternoon the two went head-to-head in the only scheduled debate at the City Club of Cleveland. Reed has challenged Jackson to more debates but the mayor has declined.

The crowd at the sold-out debate had no problem picking up on the fact that Jackson and Reed are not real found of each other.

The there were approximately 10 questions asked in the hour long debate with topics ranging from immigration, the closing of Public Square, the continued lead paint problems in neighborhoods, and economic growth.

There were three topics that had the most heated exchanges and they were Jackson's plan for a dirt bike track, Reed's three DUI arrests and Cleveland failing schools.

Dirt Bike Track

Jackson continues his push to build a dirt bike track in Cleveland.

He sees it as a way to alleviate the problem of riders illegally running through the streets of Cleveland.

The mayor says this is not a problem unique to Cleveland but his solution is.

Building a track will allow for a conversation with the leaders of the bike crews who currently break the law. He says it also opens up an industry previously out of reach not only as dirt bike riders but jobs in areas like bike repair and maintenance.

"It really is a holistic approach as to how do we deal with something that's not going away and try to move it into a mode that will be proactive and a positive," said Jackson.

Reed has fought the building of the track since it's unveiling of the idea in city council.

"If you want a dirt bike track built in your ward, in your community and in your neighborhood you vote for him," Reed said as he pointed to Jackson. "Because I'm not going to build a dirt bike track in the city of Cleveland. I am not going to waste 2.4 million dollars on a dirt bike track that 95 percent of the people in this city of Cleveland will not use."

DUI Arrests

Mayor Jackson was asked why his campaign just recently released a radio ad campaign that brings up Reed's three DUI arrests, the latest of which was in 2013, and why the ads came out a month before the election.

"This is the office of the mayor of the city of Cleveland and you have to have good judgment, and you have to be responsible," said Jackson. "Even during this debate and other conversations throughout my engagement with Councilman Reed he's never accept responsibility of anything it's always somebody else's fault."

A very emotional Reed replied, "When somebody tells you that I didn't do anything, I did do something. I spent 28 days in rehab. I did do something. I did do something. I went to the rooms of AA. I went to talk to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So when he tells you that didn't do something about this problem I have faced up to the fact that I made a mistake. Not once, not twice but three times."


Jackson hired Cleveland Metro School's CEO Eric Gordon and helped come up with the Schools Transformation Plan five years ago.

During the City Club debate Jackson was asked to grade himself on the improvement in the schools since been in office.

"I think we would be a C+. Whatever that is," said Jackson. "I'm not going to say, I'm not going to say an A because we have a way, we have a way to go. We have a way to go. But I would say a C+ and we're continuing to work on it."

Reed responded immediately with, "I think like they say you can't make up your own facts. You can't call yourself a C+ when the State has called you an F on more than one occasion. I mean it's a complete failure and I don't think anyone in this room should be happy. It's all about leadership, and leadership starts at the top."

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