Post-election silence a sign of Cleary#039;s true colors?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 6, 2003

If the measure of a man's character is found in how he handles adversity, Ironton voters just learned a valuable lesson about ousted mayor Bob Cleary.

Following a sound defeat at the hands of two-year councilman John Elam, the normally outspoken Cleary has been conspicuously mum since Tuesday night.

After weeks of gallivanting about town, smiling for a series of well-orchestrated campaign "photo-ops" Cleary has refused public comment on the election.

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That's right, he's not said "thank you to my supporters," "I wish Mr. Elam the best," "Good riddance" or anything else - not even a "no comment."

Refusing to say anything about the election is inexcusable and a bit of a slap in the face to the 1,403 voters who selected Cleary when they cast their ballots on Tuesday.

Just because he lost the election doesn't mean Cleary should just turn his back on the city or the office he still holds for another few weeks - no matter how difficult it may be.

Leadership positions require people who can stand up and take the heat when things go badly. Anyone can stand in front of the cameras and take credit for good things. The ability to raise one's hand and take ownership in a problem is crucial - whether the problem is a negotiating a tough deal with an economic development prospect or simply confronting an election day defeat.

Some people might say such criticism is too harsh. He is, after all, human and has feelings. However, at least part of his right to privacy and seclusion were traded in when he first ran for public office. Just like a Hollywood celebrity, the cost of "fame" is sometimes a little privacy. And, occasionally, in the line of celebrity duty, eating a little crow is required, if nothing more for the sake of the fans, in this case the voters.

A logical person would think that taking personal responsibility and publicly thanking those who supported him would be the least Cleary could do.

Such an obvious political faux pas forces one to wonder if the stress of losing changed the man's personality or if the stress of losing simply uncovered the true personality. That's certainly a judgment call.

Of course, the voters already made the ultimate judgment call on Tuesday - and, perhaps, not a moment too soon.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext. 12 or by e-mail to