Local Mayor Turns Crossing Guard During Budget Battle

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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It's a unique new role for the mayor of East Cleveland, who is urging city council members to restore funding for school crossing guards.

But council members said the money is already in the budget.

East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton put on a fluorescent vest and grabbed a handheld stop sign and helped school children cross the intersection of Euclid and Superior Avenues Monday afternoon.

"The only thing that stands between our kids and these cars is a crossing guard and without the funding from council, we can't pay our crossing guards legally.  Somebody's got to do it, my kids go to Superior School where we are today and I won't stand for having them be unsafe," said Mayor Norton.

The mayor said several weeks ago, city council voted to eliminate $31,000 used to pay crossing guards from the city's budget.

"Sad part about it is that the city has the money, has the cash available, so if city council gives us the permission, we could use the money that we have to pay these crossing guards throughout the school year," he said.

But city council Vice President Chantelle C. Lewis said the mayor is not being truthful.

She emailed Fox 8 News a copy of the budget, which shows $31,000 for crossing guards.

Mayor Norton calls it a high-profile typo, saying council members deleted the money verbally during a meeting.

"I think it's unsafe because I almost got hit before and plus, somebody was coming out of Huron Hospital and then they were zooming and they almost hit me," said student Earl Lane.

"These cars out here, they don't care.  I almost got hit out here a few times, so the kids out here walking by themselves, it's a good thing that I walk my kids every day, but they're out here by themselves and they should have somebody there to watch after them in the morning and afternoon," said his mother, Racheal Linson.

Parents Fox 8 News spoke to were surprised to see the mayor helping people cross the street.

They agreed that crossing guards are important.

"I think it's very terrible because, like I said, right here it's very dangerous with these cars, all these intersections right here with the kids to cross the street," said parent Marcie Dial.

"It's just not right when crossing guards are not around all the time, but if crossing guards are around, it's really safe for you," said her daughter Makayla Lowe.

City councilwoman Mildred Brewer went out to support Mayor Norton.

"Somebody got to be out here to help our children, we don't need the politics when it comes to children," said Brewer.

Mayor Norton said he will return to his crossing guard duties Tuesday morning.

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