Mayor Dennis J. Kucinich, clearly shaken by his slim victory of 275 votes in the recall attempt against him, started handing out olive branches yesterday amid fears of a recount and calls for his resignation.
The mayor, saying the recall had a sobering effect on him, added that there would be a shake-up of his youthful administration that includes a 24-year-old finance director and a 21-year-old assistant safety director. His aides have been under fire for heavy-handed tactics that alienated voters, according to pre-election polls.
"I will take whatever steps necessary to go and talk to the business community, to the [city] council and to the newspaper editors to see if there's a way to pick up the pieces," said Kucinich.
Council president George L. Forbes, Kucinich's archenemy there was unconvinced.
"I wish I could tell you that it would be different tomorrow, but I would be lying," said Forbes.
"If the major has any decency in him and any concern for the city, he'd resign from office," said Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chairman Timothy Hagan.
Kucinich's softened attitude toward those who he said had conspired to destroy his political career was an about-face for the usually fiery mayor who rose to power by lashing out at the establishment. He was elected last November on a power-to-the-people theme, but suddenly found himself the target of the first recall vote in the city's history after only nine months in office.
Unofficial results showed that Kucinich beat the recall by 60.308 to 60.033 - one of the closest elections in the city's history.
Under Ohio law, if the margin is less than one-third of 1 percent, there is an automatic recount at public expense. It will be completed in five days.
"We need a shift of 138 votes and we win," said Thomas Campbell, a history professor and leader of the recall drive. Other political observers said, however, that reversing the outcome through recount is a longshot chance.
Kucinich said he would go to court, if necessary, to preserve his victory. "I'm not going to let the city government be stolen from the people," he said.
Kucinich's overtures to the business community were tempered yesterday by his sharp criticism of city banks. He accused them of cutting off the city's credit "because I won't shine the shoes of the presidents of various banks." In July, three Cleveland Banks refused to refinance $7.8 million in notes.
The recall was sparked by Kucinich's "Good Friday" firing of former police chief Richard Hongisto, the onetime sheriff of San Francisco County who now heads the New York state prison system.
"I don't think there is any mayor anywhere or public official anywhere who can claim at any time to have 100 percent support," he said.