Friday, January 15, 2010

Undeclared Ronayne impresses with low key, high energy speech

He may not have been auditioning for the job, but Chris Ronayne offered a vision last night to the Cleveland Heights Democratic Club of just what an effective county executive would look like. With a manner that was folksy but not phony, affable but analytical, and practical yet almost poetic, the former Cleveland planning director persuaded an audience peppered with skeptics that Cuyahoga’s new charter government could facilitate a promising new era of cooperation and prosperity.

Ronayne spoke directly but optimistically about tough challenges facing Cuyahoga and its new leaders. Embedded in his discussion of job loss, parochial attitudes, urban sprawl, the state government’s anti-urban attitude no matter which party was in control, the inefficiencies of 59 political entities within the county, and other daunting issues was a sense that workable solutions existed.

Ronayne, president of University Circle, Inc., conveyed an easy familiarity with the political process although he disavowed being “an insider’s insider”. He spoke of smart-growth policies and shared service networks as tools to build a better region. But he emphasized more than once that “personnel is policy”, stressing how critical it was for citizens to evaluate candidates for both county executive and the county council with extreme care.

It was only a brief talk but long enough to display a keen and supple intellect, an appreciation of Cuyahoga’s diversity, a practical but dynamic approach to problem solving, and a “yes we can” spirit.

Two declared candidates for county executive — Democratic mayors Ed Fitzgerald of Lakewood and Georgine Welo of South Euclid — were in attendance. They and several judicial candidates spoke to the club before Ronayne’s talk.

Following a brief Q&A, a retired public official from an old and distinguished political family seemed to speak for many when she said that, although she had voted against Issue 6 and for Issue 5, she was beginning to think the new county government could turn out to be a good thing.


Anonymous said...

I posted this insightful commentary on my Facebook page. Better by far than any other assessment. Thanks!

Richard said...

Thank you! Don't know if you are a new reader or not, but I appreciate your comment AND your act.

I just joined FB myself, which means I have satisfied at least one of my resolutions for 2010.

Claire said...

Hi Richard - Sorry I missed the talk. Thanks for your insights! I hope we see more new leaders and new energy emerging from this process. (And my new year's resolution had better be to try to keep up with your pace of blogging.)

John Ettorre said...

We would be very lucky indeed to have Chris as the county executive. But I fear we'll end up with someone far less enlightened.

Richard said...

Claire, I have been pleasantly surprised by the high quality of some of the people who seem to be contemplating running for Council seats. Hopefully they will be more successful in their campaigns than the hackers.

And John, I know several enlightened people who might be formidable candidates if they decide to enter the race for county executive. Two have told me they are waiting until March to decide. Another may be making a decision by the end of this month.