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Out & About in Cleveland

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Cuyahoga County Executive Debate

On Monday, September 29th, we attended the City Club Candidate Debate for Cuyahoga County Executive which was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel due to the overwhelming number of people who wanted to see it. We sat at a table in the back with Mr. Nancy Dietrich, former Cleveland Heights City Councilperson, and Ms. Maryann Barnes, President of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland. The debate featured the Democrat candidate former Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish and the Republican candidate County Councilman Jack Schron. It was moderated by Mr. Rick Jackson, Host/Producer of WCPN. We were very impressed by both candidates.

We liked Councilman Schron, who at one point referred to himself as a "re-builder and a re-newer", for his impressive business background as CEO of Jergens and his record on education when he served for 12 years on the Chagrin Falls School Board. He seemed to have a good command of the workings of county government. He said part of the problem with our new county government is that it is operated by four different computer systems "that do not talk to each other" and spoke of what needs to be done to bring the technology in line with people's needs.

When asked about blighted neighborhoods and demolition of abandoned houses, Councilman Schron pointed out the the proposed bond ordinance would only raise $50 million where $200 was needed so, if passed, the money would have to be targeted to certain areas, like those around schools, where it could make a real difference.

We also liked State Rep. Budish for many of the stands that he took during the course of the the debate such as when he talked about ways that money could be saved for local governments, businesses, and homeowners by making them more energy efficient. Among other topics that State Rep. Budish talked about were what could be done to reduce infant mortality in Cuyahoga County and the possibilities for a venture capital fund to assist new businesses. State Rep. Budish said that, "the most important skill as Cuyahoga County Executive is empathy for people". We also found it notable that he praised what is being done to revitalize Slavic Village and the need to repair our roads.

We saw a lot of people there that we knew like Asim Datta, Murat Gurer, County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell, Marty Gelfand, Lana Moresky, former Sheriff Bob Reid, State Senator Shirley Smith, State Rep. Nan Baker, County Councilman Dave Greenspan, and the list goes on. Two people that we talked to for a couple of minutes were Ms. Irene Morrow from the American Nationalities Movement who is looking forward to our holiday party and County Councilwoman Sunny Simon.

One thing that disappointed us was when both candidates were asked about what needs to be done to keep university graduates as well as other people from leaving Cleveland, neither spoke about the the wonderful possibilities for Cleveland if we could only retain the international students that come here for college after they graduate. We wish that both candidates could have prepared for this question by reading Robert L. Smith's article that appeared in the Plain Dealer on September 2, 2014 titled "International students bring economic firepower that Greater Cleveland has been Slow to Tap"; a Crain's Cleveland Business editorial titled "Retention is Key" that was published on September 21, 2014; or a Crain's Cleveland Business article titled "On Immigration, Cleveland has a lack of Global Perspective" by John Campanelli published August 17, 2014 which were all distributed at the Global Cleveland seminar that we attended last week.

On Monday night we found out that Ohio State Rep. and Candidate for Ohio State Treasurer Connie Pillich was having a fundraiser at Massimo's so we drove over there for a little while.

We saw several people there who knew Ms. Wong and wished her well including Ms. Helen Knipe Smith who said that Ms. Wong does "a good job for immigrants...she gets them in!" Ms. Smith said that she enjoys receiving our holiday invite each year.

Common Pleas Court Judge Carolyn Friedland has known Ms. Wong for many years, in fact she said that they started off around the same time. There were several members of the teamsters union in attendance and they good-naturedly reminded us that Ms. Wong purchased our office building on Chester from the Joint Council of the Teamsters.

In addition, we visited with the prominent attorney Tom Scanlon who we had seen on Sunday at the the dedication of the Johnny Kilbane sculpture. Mr. Scanlon told us some more about the in's and out's of the project and how it finally came to fruition. We were both glad that it turned out the way it did.

We always like to hear a personal success story like the one that State Rep. Pillich has to offer. She was the youngest in a family of 5 children living in Buffalo where times were hard for the family after her father lost his job at the local steel mill. In order to get the money for college she joined the ROTC and became an Air Force Officer serving in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. She went on to become an attorney and practiced law for 13 years before she was elected as a State Representative from Ohio's 28th District in Cincinnati in 2008. State Rep. Pillich feels that her experience in banking law will help her if she is elected Ohio Treasurer in November.

Another person who was there at the Pillich fundraiser and is looking forward to the holiday party is Councilman Zack Reed because, as he said, "it is a blast!"

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