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Government and Politics

Cleveland Councilman Westbrook says he's finishing up after 34 years
Former council president says Cleveland's downtown has grown as a neighborhood as well as a destination

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M.L. Schultze
Cleveland Councilman Westbrook says he wants to continue to focus on neighborhoods.
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In The Region:

Longtime Cleveland council member Jay Westbrook announced today that this will be his last year on council. But, as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, he says he’s not done with public life.

SCHULTZE: Westbrooks on downtown as a neighborhood

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Westbrook on community development corporations

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Jay Westbrook came to Cleveland City Council in 1980, as the city was emerging from the tumultuous tenure of Cleveland’s boy mayor, Dennis Kucinich. A decade later, Westbook became council president, and during the 1990s, the city built the Rock Hall, Great Lakes Science Center and Gateway project. 

“These decisions and actions have helped revitalize the downtown as a place of housing as well as a place of employment and recreation. So the downtown has over the years become a very vital part of the region.” 

But Westbrook says his chief interest remains with sustaining strong neighborhood community groups, and he plans to spend the next 11 months fashioning a new role for himself to help such groups.

Cleveland council will drop from 19 seats to 17 next year because of population loss. 

Westbrook and Community Development

Cleveland City Council member Jay Westbrook announced today (Monday) that he’ll retire from council this year – 34 years after he started.

Westbrook joined council in 1980, after working as a community organizer, an outreach worker and veterans affairs counselor.

He was president of council throughout the 1990s, and now chairs the Personnel Committee. But he says his overriding interest over the decades has been on neighborhoods, and the small-scale Community Development Corporations – known as CDCs -- that represent them.

Westbrook on community development corporations
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“And so I’m going to be giving my time and attention to how to strengthen the performance of some of the weaker CDCs, and strengthen the overall network of CDCs in being a catalyst for improvement and change in neighbhorhoods.” 

Westbrook helped write himself out of his council seat by supporting a change that linked the size of council to the population of the city. Because that population has shrunk, council will be going from 19 wards next year to 17.

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