For the first time since being elected mayor in 1999, Eileen Patton faces a challenge in a re-election bid.
The challenge comes in the person of Richard Deem, a former lieutenant in the police department who retired May 24. Deem, who served more than 29 years with the department, is at the center of a lengthy legal battle with the city following his demotion from captain to lieutenant in late 2006 in a round of budget cuts.
Deem has asked why other officers demoted at the time were later restored to their previous ranks and paid back wages but he was not.
The case has gone back and forth between the city’s Civil Service Commission and the courts and is now in the Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals.
Deem described the dispute as old news but acknowledged it is playing at least some role in his mayoral bid.
“There’s probably some inspiration there,” Deem told West Life. “But is that the only reason I’m running? No.”
Deem said focuses of his campaign will be financial stability for the city and more aggressive inspections to keep the city’s housing stock up.
“I think we need to move in a new direction,” Deem said. “I think it’s just time for a change.”
Deem said his nearly three decades with the city’s police department gives him a unique knowledge of the community.
“I think we need somebody who knows Fairview Park backward and forward,” he said.
Patton, who will be seeking her fourth term, said it would be inappropriate to comment on Deem’s candidacy at this time due to the pending litigation against the city.
Patton, who previously served as Ward 1 councilwoman, said she was enthusiastic about the upcoming campaign.
“I’d love the opportunity to serve for four more years,” she told West Life.
Patton said she hopes to continue to work on economic development issues for the city in a fourth term.
“We have four major development projects going on right now that will change the landscape of the city and the future economics of the community,” she said. “I would love to see them through.”
Patton was referring to the planned nursing home on Lorain Road, redevelopment of former NASA buildings on Brookpark Road, an office building planned for the former Cleveland Motel site and the pending sale of Fairview Centre.