And we thought the 2014 county executive race was a walkover.
Back then, Armond Budish had the support of key Democrats such as Frank Jackson, Sherrod Brown, Marcy Kaptur and Marcia Fudge well before the primary, while a Republican had not won a nonjudicial countywide office in 20 years.
Four years later, it’s no contest. Even with a county corruption investigation underway, and missteps on overtime pay and the Q deal, Budish is the only name that will appear on the primary and general election ballots for county executive.
“For the people, I just think it’s a shame that they don’t have debates, they don’t have the ideas being tossed back and forth that a competitive race brings,” says retired sheriff Bob Reid, who ran against Budish in the 2014 Democratic primary. “I don’t think it’s good for the county.”
So, since we love democracy, we asked a few Budish foes to examine his record and suggest priorities for the next four years.
Get the lakefront leaping: Reid, a longtime Bedford resident, recently moved downtown. He believes the promises Budish made to use Lake Erie as an economic asset during the 2014 campaign have yet to be realized. “I don’t see anything on the drawing board, unless I’m missing it,” says Reid. “I don’t see any projects.”
Lower taxes: The county’s tax burden ranks among the highest in the state. Yet, taxes are rarely an issue, despite their impact on local business, Reid says. “I’ve never seen any type of proposals, anything that says, ‘Hey this is what we can do to reduce taxes,’ ” he says.
Keep it clean: Jack Schron, a Republican county council member who ran against Budish in 2014, worries about the specter of scandal. As of early April, eight subpoenas had been served on Budish’s administration in the corruption investigation, with two high-ranking employees placed on unpaid leave. “That’s not a good thing. I don’t care how you cut it,” says Schron. “We hopefully move past all this.”
Jobs, jobs … jobs?: Schron was pleased to see the Plug and Play startup accelerator come to town, but he wants more progress. “If you read the preamble [of the county charter], three of the first six points are all about economic development and job creation,” says Schron. “We just don’t have that much activity going on.”
Focus on our strengths: Peter J. Corrigan, a Case Western Reserve University MBA and former high energy physicist, decided to run for county executive as a write-in Republican after learning that Philips Healthcare plans to stop manufacturing at its Highland Heights plant in late 2018. He was troubled by the loss of high-paying jobs, especially since the company is an anchor to the Global Center for Health Innovation, a major county project. “Why are we losing focus on this?” asks Corrigan. “This is what we’re supposed to be all about in Northeast Ohio.”