It's Another Big Shake-Up in Lakewood City Government
Law director steps down, mayor appoints council president to fill the position.
The local political merry-go-round that is Lakewood City Hall, just made another rotation.
Nora Hurley, the city’s law director, is stepping down to take a post with the newly formed Cuyahoga County law department, and Lakewood City Council President Kevin Butler is taking her place.
That means there will be another opening on city council — and a new council president will need to be appointed.
“All this has happened in a state of transition and discussion over the last week,” said Mayor Michael Summers, who appointed Butler to the position.
Butler has not been “formally” approved for the post just yet. Council must first give him the official thumbs-up at the March 7 council meeting.
Summers — who took over as mayor only weeks ago — said the law director post in Lakewood is unlike other cities because the position is the first in the line of succession to the mayor. Also, the law director must be a Lakewood resident.
“Historically, the law director is the key advisor to the mayor,” Summers said. “The issues of confidence, trust, personal chemistry, knowledge and capacity to lead and serve our city make it a unique hiring proposition. I think Kevin Butler has all of those qualities and more.”
With those items listed in the unofficial job description, Summers added that it’s not a job the city is taking applicants for. Once approved, Butler said he will waste no time getting into action.
Among his first order of business, he will be a part of the hiring process for the new council seat appointment. Last month council interviewed more than 30 candidates for two open seats. Only a handful of those live in Ward 1 — they will be considered for the post.
Butler was elected to council in November 2005 and councilmembers chose him as president in 2010. He said he will be leaving his private practice to serve as the city’s law director full time — but added that he will finish the work he has with current clients.
“I have private practice that has been successful,” he said. “I don’t plan on being law director of city of Lakewood forever. This is a good career move, because it expands my knowledge of the law. But more than anything else it allows me to continue working in the city that I grew up in and the city that I will remain in. This is really an expanded role for me. And it’s an exciting one.”
This is not the first time that a city councilman has become the city’s law director. Brian Corrigan served three consecutive terms as a Ward 1 councilman before serving four years as the law director under mayor Tom George.
Hurley — who accepted an unspecified position with the county law department, serving under former mayor and new county executive Ed FitzGerald — said she has enjoyed her time serving the city.
She started in August 2000 and worked as chief assistant law director until Dec. 31, 2003. She began as the city law director on Jan. 1. 2008 — the same day that FitzGerald took office.
“Serving the city of Lakewood as its law director has been one the highest honors, as well as one of them most pleasant experiences of my legal career,” she said. “I have had the fortunate opportunity to serve the community in which I live and I am extremely grateful. Lakewood truly is the best place to live and to work.”