Shontel Brown, a political newcomer, chooses her words carefully, but with the assurance of a player who knows her party has the power — at least locally. Rob Frost, who has led his party for more than a decade, is quick and confident describing his mission, with the optimism that comes from a White House win.
The state of the county:
Frost: The shift officially started in July 2008 when federal agents raided Jimmy Dimora's house and office. “Every primary since then we’re registering more and more Republicans. We’re at our highest point of Republicans in the county since 1984. That’s with a declining overall population.”
Brown: While Cuyahoga County is still a stronghold for Democrats, Brown knows that she needs to keep gaining ground. “The numbers are there. We just need to get people to the polls. That’s my biggest challenge.”
Frost: County Councilwoman Nan Baker; state Rep. Marlene Anielski, R-17; Ohio State University football star-turned-Ohio congressional candidate Anthony Gonzalez; and newly elected Lyndhurst Municipal Court Judge Dominic Coletta.
Brown: Because she doesn’t want to play favorites, Brown won’t name names. “But there’s quite a few. We have some very young candidates on the West Side as well as the East Side.”
Frost: The Republican Party had a tent at the 2014 Gay Games and hosted a forum on immigration at the Republican National Convention. “We’re open for business. And we’re open for everyone.”
Brown: Young, female and African-American, Brown is the antithesis of imprisoned former party chair Dimora, but she says she is also the opposite when it comes to integrity and ideals. “Electing me as chair is demonstrative of the change in the party. This is not your same old Democratic Party.”
Frost: Reducing taxes and regulations to help the economy grow and create jobs. “Northeast Ohio has been lagging behind the rest of the state. That’s largely due to the failed Democratic leadership that’s had near total control since the mid-1980s.”
Brown: New congressional maps are drawn after each census with the approval of the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and the governor — a fact which Brown says results in unequal representation. “Gerrymandering is probably the biggest partisan issue. Right now, the way the numbers shake out, the Republicans have more representation in Ohio than the Democrats.”
On each other:
Frost: “I’m excited to see what bipartisan issues she wants to lead the Democratic Party forward to.”
Brown: “I know that he is a person who is open to conversation and at least have those sit-downs.”
The last year has taught them …
Frost: “To throw conventional wisdom out the window.”
Brown: “There’s always some common ground that can be found.”