The Worst Mayors (1820-1993)
Next, and seventh, is Cleveland's Dennis Kucinich (1977-79). Only thirty-one years old when elected, Cleveland's "boy" mayor had failings that were not the sins of venality or graft for personal gain, but rather matters of style, temperament, and bad judgment in office. Kucinich earned seventh place the hard way: by his abrasive, intemperate, and confrontational populist political style, which led to a disorderly and chaotic administration. He barely survived a recall vote just ten months into office, then disappeared for five weeks, reportedly recuperating from an ulcer. When he got back into the political fray, his demagogic rhetoric and slash-and-burn political style got him into serious trouble when he stubbornly refused to compromise and led Cleveland into financial default in late 1978—the first major city to default since the Great Depression. That led also to Kucinich's defeat and exit from executive office. Out of office, he dabbled in a Hollywoodesque spirit world and once believed he had met actress Shirley MacLaine in a previous life, seemingly confirming his critics' charges that he was a "nut-cake." After that, he experienced downward mobility, losing races for several other offices and finally ending up with a council seat; but more recently, he climbed back up to a seat in Congress. Bad judgment, demagoguery, and default also spelled political failure in the eyes of twenty-five of our experts, who ranked Dennis, whom the press called "the Menace," as seventh-worst.
The American Mayor The Best & The Worst Big-City Leaders By Melvin G. Holli The Pennsylvania State University Press