Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Politics RICHMOND HEIGHTS: Longtime mayor to face opposition

Wednesday Politics
RICHMOND HEIGHTS: Longtime mayor to face opposition
[Editor’s Note: Technical difficulties prevented our posting yesterday. We couldn’t get online.]

This is the first of a series of periodic snapshots on local 2013 municipal election campaigns.

This blog took a big leap forward in May 2011 when we followed our curiosity to Richmond Heights and its sociocultural struggles as they were being played out in its high school basketball program. Over the course of the following nine months some of our most widely read and circulated pieces covered key developments in the small but significant bedroom community [See here, here, and here].

Sometime this year we will return to the Richmond Heights school district to catch up on how the district is faring educationally. We can report today however that, thanks to a nearly complete turnover of the district school board, the costly shenanigans rooted in cronyism and race have pretty much disappeared. Only one member remains from the Board’s January 2011 organizational meeting.
Richmond Heights Board of Education, from left: Carmela Carter, Frank Barber, Linda Pliodzinkas, Tamitra Peavy and Bobby Jordan Sr. Jordan is president, Barber is vice president.

In reporting on Richmond Heights schools we came to understand the ways in which the district’s issues were only a part of the city’s underperformance. The city was in such financial straits that it would have been placed under fiscal watch in 2011 had the current standards of the State Auditor been in place at the time.

Perhaps this is the reason that the city’s longtime mayor, Daniel Ursu, in office since 1989, stopped giving "State of the City" addresses after 2010. His office told us today that he is working on an SOC this year.

Richmond Heights has four municipal races this year: mayor, council president, and the two council at large seats. These are held, respectively, by Ursu, David Roche, Miesha Wilson Headen, and Donald O’Toole.

Eloise Henry
Ward 3 Councilwoman
Miesha Wilson Headen
Councilwoman at Large
Whether Ursu pursues his seventh four year term may turn on whether he relishes a challenge from at least one and perhaps two or more city council members. While ward 3 councilwoman Eloise Henry is telling friends that she is in the race “no matter who else is running”, Headen faces a choice between running for reelection to the seat she won four years ago in her first try for public office, or going up against her colleague and perhaps others in a mayoral bid. The answer will likely depend on how much money she thinks she can raise.

Council president Roche told us that he is leaning towards running for re-election as opposed to seeking the mayor’s seat. Likewise, O'Toole says that he expects to run for re-election.

Ursu has yet to announce his plans.

Candidates can begin circulating petitions on June 8 and must file them by August 7. Richmond Heights offices are nonpartisan. The city has no primary.

Gender Gap between parties is growing

Prof. Karen Beckwith
Political scientist Karen Beckwith will lead a discussion this Friday on why Democratic women in Congress outnumber their Republican colleagues by such a hefty margin and what significance this may or may not have.
Beckwith, the Flora Stone Mather Professor of Political Science at Case Western Reserve University, will be the featured guest at this week’s Public Affairs Discussion Group from 12:30 to 1:30PM in the Kelvin Smith Library Dampeer Room. The library is adjacent to Severance Hall.
Eighty percent of female senators and more than 75 percent of female representatives are Democrats.
All-but announced 2013 State candidate Nina Turner to speak in Shaker Heights

State Senator and Minority Whip Nina Turner, D-25, who delivered impromptu remarks that fired up a diverse crowd of Democratic activists two weeks ago when state party chair Chris Redfern was in town, returns to the same location tomorrow. This time the microphone will have her name on it, though she didn’t need it last time.

Turner is the presumptive frontrunner as her party’s nominee to take on Secretary of State Jon Husted next year. Husted is a prime target for those upset by the restrictive voting procedures he has sought to impose since he won the seat in 2010. She is expected to talk about voting reforms but it’s a fair assumption that her talk will be anything but dry.

The program begins at 7PM at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Center, 3450 Lee Road.

The event is open to the public and refreshments will be provided. Sponsors include the Cuyahoga Democratic Women's Caucus, Beachwood-Woodmere Democratic Ward Club, Bedford/Walton Hills Democratic Party, Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, Ohioans for Democratic Values, Shaker Heights Democratic Club, South Euclid Democratic Club and University Heights Democratic Club.

Note to Republicans: we know some of you read these posts. We will be pleased to report your events in this space, as we have done in the past. Send your announcements to us here.

County Executive to speak in Cleveland Heights next week

Finally, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald will be at Grace Lutheran Church, 13001 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights, at 7PM next Thursday, February 28 for what sponsors Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and Cuyahoga Democratic Women’s Caucus are billing as a “conversation”.

Free; open; refreshments.

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