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Cleveland City Council Names Delores Gray to Ward 5 Seat

a photo of Cleveland City Hall.
Tim Harrison
Cleveland City Council appointed Delores Gray to serve out Phyllis Cleveland's term representing Ward 5.

Cleveland City Council on Monday appointed Delores Gray, a community advocate in the city’s Central neighborhood, to fill Phyllis Cleveland’s seat representing Ward 5.

Cleveland recommended Gray as her replacement, following an often-invoked council tradition in which an outgoing member recommends a successor to serve out his or her term. Cleveland announced her resignation last week, citing health issues.

Gray is a community engagement coordinator for Care Alliance Health Center, a medical provider with offices in Central and Downtown Cleveland, she said. She serves on the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Progressive Action Council, a resident advocacy organization. She also has served on the board of Burten, Bell, Carr, the community development corporation for the Central and Kinsman neighborhoods.

“I look forward to working with this body in service to the people of Cleveland,” Gray told council members Monday. “My years of community activism have shown me that an undivided team is far more productive than a single worker.”

Cleveland praised Gray as “a great friend” and an “outstanding community leader,” saying they worked together on many projects in Ward 5.  

“She’s not one of those people who shows up and signs the book so she can say she was there,” Cleveland said of Gray. “When Delores shows up and she rolls up her sleeves, you will know she was there, because the evidence of her work is left behind.”

All 17 Cleveland City Council seats are on the ballot this year, and Gray would need to win election in order to retain the seat for the next four years. 

A caucus of council members approved Gray’s nomination under a tradition known as the “unit rule,” which requires unanimity when council members formally vote to fill a vacancy at a regular meeting.

It’s not uncommon for council members leaving office to nominate their own replacements. Last year, Matt Zone recommended Jenny Spencer to succeed him in Ward 15. But there is criticism of the practice. Proponents of public comment at city council meetings took aim at the succession tradition in a recent letter to Council President Kevin Kelley, calling for the public to have an opportunity to speak before such appointment votes.

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