Former mayor Randall Ramsey, whom Byrd beat by a count of 122 to 84 votes, had been in office for 37 years, from 1962 to 1974 and again from 1991 to the recent election, Hyslop writes. Parma, which has lost 21 percent of its population since 2000, is 66 percent white and 30 percent African American.
Some residents credit Ramsey with cleaning up a city by using federal grants to beef up the police force and fight a rise in crime, Deere writes. Others say police brutality—especially against African American residents—increased during his tenure.
Ramsey, who blamed losing the election on a strong showing from African American residents, told Deere that the employees probably quit because they assumed Byrd would enjoy the power of being able to fire them: "I feel like they didn’t want to hang around and get fired." Byrd said she never even spoke with employees and was surprised when she was told by reporters that they quit over safety concerns, citing previous run-ins with Byrd's relatives. (Read more)