Cleveland business flourishing under Mayor Frank Jackson but education, violence draw criticism

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson was sworn into his fourth term as Mayor of Cleveland Tuesday, making him the longest serving mayor in the city's history.

His priorities: creating jobs, improving education and fighting crime echo comments made during his first inauguration in 2006.

Jackson won his first mayoral election, defeating incumbent Mayor Jane Campbell, amid fears that he was all about neighborhoods at the expense of businesses.

At his inauguration in 2006 he set the record straight, telling a crowd at East Tech High School, "If we are to survive, our businesses must prosper. Our businesses will not prosper unless the region prospers."

Since that statement, many shiny and modern buildings have gone up. Downtown streets are busier than they've been in decades.

However, critics say this development came at the expense of neighborhoods, where blighted residences dot gap-toothed neighborhoods, and lead paint-laced homes remain a constant health threat. Most concerning are youth gangs and gun violence in neighborhoods.

The work to be done in the neighborhood remains a wish. Recently, Jackson announced a major investment, a $65 million neighborhood initiative that still is just a plan on paper.

Twelve years ago, he stressed the importance of improving Cleveland schools saying "We must and we need to act now."

Education was and remains a Jackson priority. It also remains a mixed bag of accomplishments.

Embattled Superintendent Barbara Byrd Bennett is gone, and the mayor now has control.

Again, there are many new buildings, but test scores are a moving target amid criticism that poor performing students are at times eliminated from statistics to boost rankings. A similar criticism to one leveled in 2006 by Councilman Michael Polensek when he described voter expectations: "They want to see accountability within the school system. They don't want to see bogus numbers or near bogus numbers coming out of the Cleveland school district."

However, despite the critics, Jackson has the trust of Clevelanders who feel the city is positioned well for future growth.

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