Cuyahoga county government has been mired in corruption for years, but stands a chance of turning around now that a new structure with a strong central executive has been put in place. Terri Hamilton Brown is the candidate most likely to clean up the corruption, and hereby gets the much coveted Helpy-Chalk endorsement. Below are my notes on the four candidates for the Democratic nomination for county executive.
Terri Hamilton Brown: Her most important qualification is her work cleaning up corruption at the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority: Few dispute that Hamilton Brown, 48, cleaned up CMHA, where her predecessor was fired for shady dealings and later went to federal prison for theft of public funds and other crimes. That links is to her plain dealer profile, which opens with a compelling description of Hamilton Brown going ballistic over the failure to remove snow from public housing sidewalks and parking lots after a big storm. She comes off well, and the Plain Dealer isn't even endorsing her; they are endorsing Ed FitzGerald.
The PD also has thisvideo from Hamilton Brown. She doesn't talk about corruption of CMHA. Instead, she just talks about finding savings and efficiencies in government working, and says that if we do this, we won't have to raise taxes. She also advocates greater transparency, including making executive meeting minutes publicly available.
She gets my vote for competence as an administrator of a public institution and ability to fight corruption.
Ed FitzGerald: is a former FBI agent. His profile at the Plain Dealer makes him look mostly like a law-and-order candidate, with detailed proposals for improving the police. The PD endorsed FitzGerald, citing Hamilton Brown's aggressive management style, which might make it hard for her to work with the County Council. They also imply a conflict of interest, because her husband works for Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson. I'm not particularly impressed by either of these arguments. If the goal here is to clean up corruption, I think we need someone who can stand by her principles. And I'm not exactly sure what the conflict of interest with Hamilton Brown's husband is supposed to be. Frank Jackson and his team have a reputation for being bland technocrats, competent people who play by the rules.
The other two candidates for the democratic nomination aren't serious. James F. Brown is a bus driver with a high school education, no experience leading large organizations, and no organized campaign. Dianna Lynn Hill uses ALL CAPS a lot in her statement to the plain dealer. When asked what she would do first on taking office, she writes: "The first thing I will do upon taking office would be to SALUTE the people of Cuyahoga County Ohio who have endured generations of corruption and chosen the less traveled road toward reform and revitalizing the American Spirit of our citizens at large by standing up for change!!!"
One final note: this story by our local NPR affiliate states that many candidates for office this election have extensive criminal records, including things like murder and soliciting sex with a minor. But then the story provides no information at all on who these people are or how we can avoid voting for them. Grrr.