Over the last two weeks, we attended forums at the City Club of Cleveland that featured all three candidates for Cuyahoga County Executive to ask them about their prospective policies regarding the resettlement of immigrants and refugees.
These three candidates are:
- Mr. Chris Ronayne, former President of University Circle, Inc. as well as former Planning Director, Chief Development Officer and Chief of Staff for Mayor Jane Campbell who served from 2002 to 2006
- Mr. Lee Weingart, attorney, former Cuyahoga County Commissioner, and founder of the LNE Group, a transatlantic government advocacy, technology innovation, public funding, and strategic advisory firm
- Mr. Tariq Shabazz, U.S. Navy Veteran, former U.S. Congressional candidate, and earner of BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from American Military University
In the cases of Mr. Ronayne and Mr. Shabazz, we got to ask them a question during the Q and A and, in the case of Mr. Weingart, we got to talk for him for a moment before the forum began.
Indeed, we are happy to report that all three candidates responded quite appropriately to our query.
Mr. Ronayne, whose in-laws immigrated to the United States from Lebanon, said that welcoming the foreign-born should be a litmus test for any community and believes that governmental leadership should set the stage for this to happen.
He went on to say that he looked forward to working with the leaders of our various immigrant communities to see how he could best serve their members.
Recalling Cuyahoga County’s diverse history, he not only pledged continuance but stated that it would be his goal to make us a “mecca” for international newcomers.
In much the same spirit, Mr. Weingart noted that the population of Cuyahoga County has been seriously shrinking and he believes that international newcomers might be a key to proper restoration.
Along these lines, he wanted to assist the foreign-born by addressing their needs in terms of job training, housing, and education.
In answer to our question, Mr. Shabazz called the audience’s attention to Ukrainians forced to flee their homeland and expressed sincere compassion for them as well as for those in Russia who are protesting the invasion despite great risk. Certainly, he believed that helping these people would be paramount.
He went on to say that housing and language accessibility would be priorities before, and very much to his credit, asking us what we thought he should do, and we suggested that he dialogue with Global Cleveland which is very well-versed on these issues.
Of course, one cannot base one’s vote on any one issue alone, but we are grateful that in terms to assistance to immigrants and refugees, we have three fine candidates running for Cuyahoga County Executive.