August 11th, 2015

It’s never too early it seems for political navel gazing.

So who do you think will run for mayor of Cleveland in 2017? And does it matter since mayors don’t run the town.

Mayor Frank Jackson, in his third term, was to me Neighborhood Councilman. He took care of his ward. As mayor, he’s the Downtown Mayor. Can’t explain the dramatic change.

Not too early to think about this because another term from Mayor Jackson could be— despite all the hype about CLE aglow—devastating for the city. Things are bad. They can, however, get worse. Believe me. I’ve seen it happen over and over again.

Jackson won’t say he wouldn’t run for another historic 4th term. He’s going to have to be dynamited out of City Hall.

Cleveland is Political Center for GOP presidential candidates and the media circus they draw. We’re part of the Big Nonsense now. So let’s make it more spectacular (as in a spectacle).

Let’s start with the obvious candidates and their positives and negatives.

Jeff Johnson: He has the felony record over his head. But he has the experience of many years in city politics. He’s always shown unusual courage. I’ve written about his willingness, when it was considered political suicide, to confront even George Forbes at his political height. He’d be atop the list. He’s been making the noises.

Zack Reed: I once underestimated Zack. Won’t do it again. When he was named to his council seat he soon after had to run to keep the job. Who did he draw as an opponent? None other than Carl Stokes. But this Stokes had a “Junior” attached to his name. A most powerful political name in any case. I laughed at Zack, figuring the name alone will take him down. It didn’t. Zack won handily. Went through his ward then and it seemed every other block there were billboards with just his name. Maybe he’s got the trouble of drunk-driving but he also has the experience of working for Willy Brown, the wily former mayor of San Francisco.

Kevin Kelley: He’ll be the West Side candidate with the City Council Presidency as his standard. The last city council president to win the mayoral seat? Oh, no, George Forbes lost to Mike White. Kelley doesn’t strike me as tough enough but I do admit I haven’t seen that much of him. But he comes across as soft.

Mike Polensek: Can you imagine that Polensek is the first white councilman in Glenville since the first black won the seat. Who? None other than George Forbes. He’s outspoken and city residents—black and white—like it. He stays close to the streets and can talk like no other politician. His motto: “Never say never.” So you can’t count him totally out.

Joe Cimperman: He would likely be the downtown establishment’s great desire. They’ll load him up with dollars. But does a heavy campaign chest mean that much in Cleveland. I think not. And Joe has fooled some but not enough with his priestly manner. He serves the rich and they have rewarded him with lots of cash. Yet he’s been around too long. No longer the young favorite.

Matt Zone: He’s got as good a West Side name than Kelley. His dad, Mike, and his mom, Mary, were both council members. He did a nice job with the “hearing and listening” meeting to cut off possible violent reaction to the Tamir Rice killing. And with his sister married to Lee Fisher he’ll have access to Democrats with money. He meets the nice, nerdy guy standard, if you like that.

Nina Turner: Here’s ambition boiling over. And nobody can boss her around. Question is – does she come across too hot. She angered black pols by backing the County Reform issue, which passed. The Call & Post racially portrayed her as an Aunt Jemima. However, she showed her independence and likely she could get backing of white business interests. They owe her.

Tony Brancantelli: A long shot but a competent, serious Councilman who serves his ward well. And has done it long. Question is: Does he have the fire in the belly needed to take on such a chance. Don’t think so.

Judge Ray Pianka: A former councilman who has done a yeoman’s job with the city housing court. He hasn’t shown the ambition for mayor or he would have run before this. But he’s thought about it. He has the disposition and background to make an excellent mayor. Even-handed, skilled, a lawyer and just a year shy of Social Security. Too late? If so, too bad.

Bill Patmon: Naw!

Brian Cummins: He’s young enough, smart enough, vigorous enough, more than willing to work harder than just about anyone else. He’s a member of the Green Party. That’s not the Democratic Party, which dominates Cleveland. But so what. The Green Party nationally can likely lend people support and maybe some money if it’s known that Cummins could capture the mayor’s office in a big city. We might be flooded with Greens. And that’s not a bad color in Cleveland. Question is does Cummins have the stomach for a run or does he want to waste more time in City Council?

Police Chief Calvin Williams: Didn’t expect his name, did you? Does he even know he would have a chance? He’d likely get a retiring Jackson, who rates loyalty above all, endorsement. That might even be enough if he had the urge.

Chris Roynane: He has an oversized personality that will play well with the media and on the stage with constituents. Plus he has an oversized ambition and oversized energy. Hate to get in his way. A happy warrior. Another Westsider who now runs University Circle, which means he’s got establishment creds. I think he wanted to run for County Executive but instead ran for a County Council job. He was beaten by Dan Brady, an old city pro.

Steve Loomis: Who are we kidding.

So that gets us to a double-header.

Dan Brady and Dona Brady: Either could make formidable candidates. They’ve been around city politics a long time. Have progressive support. Dan was a City Councilman, as his wife, Dona, is now. They could raise money but more important they know how to play the game of politics and have lots of supporters willing to work for them. Dan, however, is president of the County Council. But Dan, once a Kucinich progressive, has regressed, backing the 20-year sin tax and supporting the cigarette tax for the arts. Makes the Brady name flexible for the downtown manipulators. He’ll probably look to increase the Council pay at the County and with the $75,000 plus Dona makes why take on the nasty problems of Cleveland. And have to work.

And as someone said just the other day, hey, Mike White is back in town. He’s being seen and keeping his image out there. He’s got the support of the very, very wealthy Mandel family feeding $$$$s. Not likely to run but could be the string-puller for someone. And has he changed? Well, recently I ran into White on Euclid Ave. He was waiting for me to cross the street, he said surprisingly. To ask how I was and say hello. Nice guy. HELLO!! Doesn’t he remember a few summers back when he told my daughter, Karin, at a chance meeting, “I’ve known your dad 29 years, hated him 28?”

I know the one year he didn’t hate me. When he ran against George Forbes and the film of George tossing me (literally) out of the room was played repeatedly during the campaign reminding everyone of George’s temper. It really looked a lot worse than it was. It helped doom George if he wasn’t already cooked.

roldo and george 150811

So, if you have other choices I missed, just add to the list. It’s summer and who isn’t tired of the Republicans already.

By Roldo Bartimole…

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