Politics

Cleveland politician James V. Stanton to be laid to rest Saturday

The longtime Democrat who served as City Council president and later in the U.S. House of Representatives died on May 2 at the age of 90.

CLEVELAND — One of Cleveland’s most prominent politicians is set to be laid to his final rest this weekend.

A funeral for James V. Stanton has been scheduled for this Saturday morning in North Bethesda, Maryland. The former city council president and United States congressman “died peacefully” on May 2 at the age of 90.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Stanton went from Holy Name High School in Parma Heights to the U.S. Air Force, serving during the Korean War. After receiving has bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton, he returned home and was elected to City Council a year later, beginning a tenure of more than a decade on the local legislative body.

In 1964, Stanton led a movement that ended with the ouster of longtime Council President Jack P. Russell, considered one of America’s last political “bosses.” He took over Russell’s powerful position during a time of great change in Cleveland, and he and Mayor Carl Stokes were known for their public clashes that often had unfortunate racial undertones.

“The feud sometimes took the form of confrontations over concrete issues, such as public housing on the West Side, but more often than not the differences were personal rather than political,” former political aide Dan Folster wrote for The Harvard Crimson back in 1971. “Stanton was able to maintain a solid majority of white Democrats and Republicans in Council who followed a policy of opposing and embarrassing the Mayor on every issue. Stokes in turn lost no opportunity to accuse Stanton and his cohorts of blatant racism.”

Despite such allegations, Stanton did enjoy much better relations with other powerful Black politicians like George L. Forbes and Stokes’ brother, Louis. In 1970, Stanton joined the latter Stokes sibling in the U.S. House of Representatives, upsetting longtime Rep. Michael A. Feighan in the Democratic primary and cruising to a general election victory in the old deep blue 20th District.

Stanton would three terms in the House and form a friendship with Majority Leader (and later Speaker) Tip O’Neill. His most notable role may have come in 1975, when he chaired a subcommittee investigating the activities of the CIA.

In 1976, Stanton chose to vacate his seat and run for the U.S. Senate, but lost in the Democratic primary to eventual general election winner Howard Metzenbaum. Other than a brief bid for DNC chairman in 1988, it would be his last foray into elected politics, and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law alum would spent much of the remainder of his life as a private attorney and lobbyist in both New York state and the Washington, D.C. area.

Stanton was preceded in death by his wife Peggy and is survived by four children and 16 grandchildren. His Catholic funeral Mass is set for Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at The Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes at Georgetown Preparatory School, with burial to follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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