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Out & About in Cleveland

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Campaigning with Cummins; Campaigning with Gelfand; CAMEO Meeting at Kan Zaman; Plexus Networking at Klimpton Schofield Hotel

You haven't heard too much from us in the last week or so in terms of blogs because it was just before the election and we were off working in the campaigns of Cleveland City Councilperson Brian Cummins (Ward 14) running for re-election and South Euclid City Councilperson-at-Large Marty Gelfand who was running for the office of South Euclid Municipal Court Judge. As is known, neither person won his contest but we still were proud to have been of assistance to two such worthy candidates who care a lot about human rights and have been consistent supporters of our immigrant/refugee community.

Regarding Councilperson Cummins, he had a very good political operation largely due to the commitment of his wife, Ms. Gayle Cummins; Mr. Chris Harsh who organized the canvassing operation; and Ms. Samantha Peddicord, his campaign manager. We made many phone calls to his supporters urging them to either go to the polls or mail in their absentee ballots on time even offering to swing by their homes with a postage stamp so they could do so.

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(Note: we learned that it is illegal for a candidate or one of her/his volunteers to handle/touch an absentee ballot but it is okay to give the voter a stamp or drive the voter to a mail box so the voter can mail it herself/himself)

On election day, we stood at the polling location established at Walton School wearing our "Brian Cummins" t-shirt and waved at the soon-to-be voters as their cars pulled into the parking lot. Of course we pointed at our t-shirt and generally got a "thumbs up" back in response which made us feel optimistic. For a large part of the day, we were joined by Mr. Jose Acevedo and our good friend, Ms. Lucy Torres who were doing the same on behalf of Mayor Frank Jackson who was running (successfully) for re-election. We all got a treat when Councilperson Cummins stopped by with hot chocolate for the three of us which was indeed welcomed because the weather for that day (in the 40's) was quite chilly.

 

After the polls closed, we waited until the workers totalled up the votes and then took the results for that precinct over to 'Los Dos Fronteras" on Fulton Road so they could be figured into the ultimate count. Unfortunately, however, the voter turnout was quite low as it was at other polling locations in Ward 14 which probably figured into the reason as to why Councilperson Cummins was sadly defeated. He accepted the bad news like a real professional, however, and urged all of his supporters to work with Ms. Jasmin Santana (the ultimate winner) to ensure a productive transition. Councilperson Cummins then thanked all of his supporters individually and said that he felt really good about the work he had done with "Metro West Community Development Corporation" and "Tremont West Development Corporation" to provide services to the area.

 

For Councilperson Gelfand we spent several days attaching his campaign literature to the doorknobs of homes in several precincts. Happily for us, the weather at that time was mostly tepid (not too hot or too cold) and we had a good pair of walking shoes to make use of. To be sure, we didn't have much time during the week before the election to go to the gym but we got our exercise through walking.

We also got to attend a really nice fundraiser for Councilperson Gelfand held at the "Black Forest Pub" on Mayfield Road wherein music was supplied by Mr. Joe Hunter, who teaches a course in jazz studies at Tri-C, and an unexpected guest was former U.S. Congressperson Dennis J. Kucinich who just happened to be in Cleveland on that day.

As is well-known, Councilperson Gelfand was U.S. Congressperson Kucinich's legal counselor from 1997 to 2013 (16 years) and this occasion U.S. Congressperson Kucinich praised the his former aide as being responsible for a lot of the triumphs that his office had produced over the years like the lessening of train traffic through Lakewood and Bay Village areas and saving both the LTV Steel Mill blast furnace and the Richmond Heights Hospital. "Marty Gelfand was my sidekick," said U.S. Congressperson Kucinich, "and we worked together each day."

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On election night, after we left the Cummins gathering, we headed over the 'Black Forest Pub" once again to see how Councilperson Gelfand was doing in the municipal judge contest which was, alas, not too good since he was challenging an incumbent, Judge Gayle Williams-Byers, who also had a passionately devoted following. Nevertheless, Councilperson Gelfand was in good spirits and promised all of us that he would keep his political options open and all of us who know him know that it is only a matter of time until he moves further up the ladder in the profession of public service. In the interim, though, Ms. Sara Continenza, the newly elected South Euclid Councilperson for Ward 03, said to Councilperson Gelfand, "I really look forward to serving with you!"

On Wednesday, November 8th, we were once more making the rounds for "Margaret W. Wong and Associates" and thus attended two events including the monthly CAMEO meeting held at "Kan Zaman" on West 25th Street wherein we discussed plans for the holiday party (always a treat) scheduled for December 15th and Lebanon Day, coming up on November 20th in the Rotunda at Cleveland City Hall. We reviewed the list of candidates endorsed by CAMEO and discovered that 72% of them won.

The other event that we briefly attended was a Plexus networking affair which took place at the "Klimpton Schofield Hotel" on East 9th Street. We could only stay a short while but enjoyed talking to Mr. Dave Ream and Mr. Eric Hayes about plans for the new LGBT Community Center slated for the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. We also liked reconnecting with Mr. Matt Wiederhold who used to work for the "Diversity Center" but now is now the Executive Director of "Main Street Medina" which was one of the forces behind the "Medina International Festival" which we enjoyed attending last August.

Above all, we liked talking to Mr. Erik Meinhardt who worked very hard in Tuesday's election on behalf of Lakewood City Councilperson Cindy Marx who is now behind in the vote count and probably will not be re-elected. Like us, Mr. Meinhardt liked some of the local results but was troubled by others thus he stated, "logic and reasoning have gone and people are mad and expressing their anger but I don't think it always has the best outcomes." 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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