The CITIZENS LEAGUE OF GREATER CLEVELAND, successor to the Municipal Assn. and the Civic League, is a prominent civic organization noted for its evaluation of candidates and issues and for promoting good government. The nonpartisan Municipal Assn. was organized in 1896 by Harry Garfield when Republicans and Democrats were outraged over the questionable political tactics associated with the 1895 election of ROBT. MCKISSON as mayor of Cleveland and the 1896 presidential election. The association's subsequent documentation of the mayor's corruption contributed to his defeat in 1899.
MAYO FESLER became the association's first full-time secretary from 1910 to 1917 and its director from 1923 to 1945. Under Fesler, the association's investigative activities were supplemented by a program of constructive aid to public officials. In 1913 it was determined that the name Civic League better represented the group's function, and in 1923 it was reorganized again as the Citizens League in order to stimulate new membership. At that time its executive board was replaced by a board of 30 trustees. The Governmental Research Institute, currently (1995) known as the Citizens League Research Institute, was created as an adjunct to the league in 1943 to research and monitor local government activities. Although evaluations of candidates and voting issues have been the league's principal concern over the years, it has also lobbied for state and local government reforms, including municipal home rule, city manager government, reapportionment of Ohio's general assembly, metropolitan government for Cuyahoga County, and reform in the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
In the 1990s the league's publication, Citizen Participation, was named "Most Outstanding Presentation" by the National Government Research Assn. Janis Purdy served as executive director in 1995.