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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF RALPH S. LOCHER - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The MAYORAL ADMINISTRATION OF RALPH S. LOCHER (1962-67) was characterized by progress in some areas, but also by racial turmoil, which accompanied agitation for social and economic change in the city. Locher was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1939. After practicing law for 6 years and serving briefly as secretary to the Ohio State Industrial Commission, he became Governor Frank Lausche's executive secretary in 1946. On Lausche's recommendation, Mayor Anthony Celebrezze appointed Locher city law director in 1953, and when Celebrezze resigned to become Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1962, Locher succeeded him as mayor of Cleveland. Support from the city's nationality groups helped elect him mayor in 1963 by a large margin.

As mayor, Locher was instrumental in doubling the capacity of the city's port facilities and expanding CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. During his administration, however, there was increasing tension between the growing black population and the white leadership of the city. In Aug. 1963, Locher arranged mediation of a dispute between Plumbers Local #55 and the UNITED FREEDOM MOVEMENT (UFM) over the admittance of black plumbers to the union. With successful resolution of the dispute, the threatened picketing of the Public Hall construction site by the UFM was averted; however, the problem of minority admittance to local unions remained. In 1964 the mayor supported the Cleveland school board's policy of building new schools in overcrowded neighborhoods, a move that cost him the support of many blacks who viewed the policy as a perpetuation of racial segregation. Although Locher was reelected mayor in 1965, his leadership was not effective in improving conditions in the Hough area, where the HOUGH RIOTS occurred during the summer of 1966. Locher ran for mayor again in 1967 but lost in the primaries to Carl B. Stokes. He was elected judge of the Common Pleas Court in 1968, probate judge in 1972, and served as justice of the Ohio Supreme Court from 1976-89, when he retired from full-time judicial service.

Ralph S. Locher Papers, WRHS.

Last Modified: 18 Jul 1997 03:56:02 PM

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