There hasn’t been a vote of no- confidence by a majority of the 10-member Warren City Council, nor has there been a public repudiation of council President Bob Dean by lawmakers. To be sure, some members have criticized Dean’s leadership, but they are in the minority and their criticism does not rise to the level of misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance in office.
In other words, there is nothing Dean has done — or not done — in his 18 months in office that warrants his removal by voters.
The council president is being challenged for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday’s primary by Jim Graham, the retired autoworker who was president of Local 1112 of the United Auto Workers at General Motors’ assembly plant in Lordstown.
This is Graham’s second bid for public office in the city. He ran for mayor in 2011 against then city Safety Service Director Doug Franklin.
Dean, who served 20 years in the military and later worked for the mayor of Houston as director of citizens assistance and for the Cleveland Port Authority as contract-compliance officer while the authority was building the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was councilman at large from 2004 to 2011 before becoming council president.
The challenger has made much of the fact that there have been dissenting voices in council because of the way the incumbent conducts business. However, Graham is unable to support his claim that a majority of the legislative branch members want Dean gone.
The council president acknowledges that there has been some tension, but he says it’s because he called for a lawmaker to resign after she had been cited for driving 50 mph in a 25 mph zone and asking the police officer for “council courtesy.” The councilwoman was subsequently convicted of having an obstructed license plate, but speeding and use of illegal plates charges were dismissed in Warren Municipal Court.
Given that the president of council does not vote, other than in the case of tie, and does not sponsor legislation, there are two main issues that come into play in this election: each man’s ability to ensure that council’s meetings are conducted lawfully, transparently and relatively problem-free; and, each candidate’s ability to work with Mayor Franklin and members of the administration.
On both issues, Dean has the advantage. He has served as councilman and for the past 18 months has put his stamp on the way council conducts the people’s business. As for being a conduit with the mayor and administration, Dean was one of Franklin’s earliest supporters, and since January 2012 has worked closely with the mayor’s office on a myriad of problems.
We have often said that an election is like a prizefight where the challenger must defeat the champion convincingly in order to claim the championship belt.
While Graham is well-intentioned and is sincere about serving the residents of the city of Warren, he has not made a convincing argument for replacing Dean.
The Vindicator endorses Dean for the Democratic nomination for council president.
There is no Republican candidate in the race, which means the winner Tuesday will take the oath of office in January.