By Nicole Hennessy
Members of the Fairview Park Democratic Club and residents from surrounding cities filled Fairview’s City Hall Thursday to hear Democratic candidates on the primary ticket speak.
At 10 minutes after the official starting time, constituents still stood in small groups, some taking their seats as the candidates continued to arrive.
Among those who showed up to address the crowd, each speaking for three minutes, was former Summit County Councilman Pete Crossland, whose goal, he clearly stated, is to defeat Rep. Jim Renacci of the 16th Congressional District.
Citing last year’s government shutdown, Crossland said it was Renacci’s vote to deny extending the debt limit that “activated” him to run for the seat.
Also pointing out Renacci’s voting record as being “100 percent pro-life” and “hardly ever” on the side of the environment, he continued asking voters to help him remediate some of these problems he sees within the state, including issues related to immigration.
Following Crossland, former North Olmsted Board of Education member and state Central Committee hopeful Chris Glassburn had few words to say, but did mention he’s also currently running the campaign of Armond Budish, who spoke just a few minutes later.
Of the six Democratic candidates running for the county executive seat – including Budish, who is the endorsed Democratic candidate for the seat, and ex-North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O’Grady – four candidates spoke.
O’Grady, concerned that not enough attention is paid within county politics to the west side of Cleveland, made mention of the Opportunity Corridor, a $311,000 throughway that will bisect some of the East Side’s poorest neighborhoods.
“What benefit will that bring to the west side of Cleveland?” he asked. “None.”
Also commenting that it won’t benefit the East Side either, he continued, “It goes right through those neighborhoods. It benefits very few people who are very wealthy already and already control the hospitals.”
After he pleaded for change and for money being spent on projects like the Opportunity Corridor to be distributed equally throughout the county, the other candidates pleaded similarly.
One of O’Grady’s opponents, and the only woman running for executive, Shirley Smith, said of county government, “We got rid of corruption, but we did not get rid of the problems in Cuyahoga County.”
She then spoke of one issue in particular that is close to her heart, which is achieving equality across all communities in terms of health care and education.
“I don’t agree just because you’re with the crowd,” she said of her leadership style. “I want to make sure Cuyahoga County is taken care of.”
Later, two judicial candidates had the chance to speak – Anita Laster Mays, running for the 8th District Court of Appeals, and Shannon Gallagher, running for the Court of Common Pleas.
Mays is the current drug court judge and presides over cases sent to her from Rocky River, an initiative she piloted after realizing the suburbs were not represented in her court, obtaining a $1 million federal grant to include Rocky River and other western suburbs.
Also, Gallagher hopes to expand upon the drug court program.
After a few more speakers, including those for and against the proposed Issue 7, which would extend Cuyahoga County’s sin tax for an additional 20 years, attendees spoke to the few remaining politicians, mostly those running for the county executive seat, and took literature home in order to better consider their options.