Terri Hamilton Brown, candidate for Cuyahoga County executive, asked members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party not to endorse candidates for the new county executive and 11-member council, especially before the June 24 filing deadline for the Sept. 7 primary.
“As a Democrat and a candidate for county executive, I believe in the people’s judgment,” Brown wrote in a letter sent to each member of the Democratic Party’s executive committee. “I propose that rather than endorsing a candidate, our party declare this to be the voters’ primary, an open primary in which they make the party’s choice for the best candidate for the November election.”
The Cuyahoga Democratic Women’s Caucus came out against party endorsements as well. “Non-endorsement … allows the Party to define a new and vital role for itself beyond that of endorser, to one characterized by an ability to counsel and support Democratic candidates to run compelling campaigns that are engaging, positive and responsive to the needs of the residents of Cuyahoga County,” the caucus wrote in an open letter.
In spite of these and several other requests for nonendorsement, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party executive committee met on June 19 and selected candidates to endorse for county executive and council.
Ed FitzGerald, currently mayor of Lakewood, got the endorsement for county executive.
The following Democrats were endorsed for county council:
– Nicole Dailey Jones, North Olmsted (District 1).
– Chuck Germana, Parma City Council President (District 4).
– Gerald Cooper, attorney and pastor (District 8).
– Sunny Simon, South Euclid City Council (District 11).
The primary election for county executive and the 11-member council takes place Sept. 7. Partisan primary winners will face off against independent candidates in the general election on Nov. 2.
Some Democratic candidates expressed their displeasure with the party’s decision to make endorsements. Dissenters pointed to the ongoing criminal investigations of several Democrats within the current county administration as the main reason the party shouldn’t have endorsed any candidates. Endorsing candidates, especially before the June 24 filing deadline, could be construed as business as usual within the party, they said.
“I’m disappointed,” Brown said a few days after the announcement.
Fellow Democratic candidate for county executive and mayor of South Euclid, Georgine Welo, concurred with Brown.
But Simon, who currently serves as councilwoman-at-large for South Euclid, believes that party endorsements are necessary. “I think our county Democrats look to our party for guidance when going to the polls,” she said.
Simon added that she is proud to have been endorsed by the county’s Democratic Party. “I think I received the endorsement because of my qualifications and experience,” she said, pointing to her 11-plus years on the South Euclid council and her work as a private-practice attorney dedicated to family law and children.
Brown said she is carrying on with her campaign as planned. “Endorsements are good because you can put them on your publicity materials,” she said. Reaching out to residents, however, will be the key to success in the county executive race, she added. “We’ll continue to talk to the voters. I believe they are looking for change and a change agent.”
Despite her disappointment with the endorsements, Brown said she believes that the Democratic Party is making attempts to pull away from its troubled past. “The party recently elected a new chairman (Stuart Garson, who replaced Commissioner Jimmy Dimora as party head), so that’s definitely a step in the right direction,” she noted.
The Cuyahoga County Republican Party has not as yet endorsed any candidates in the county executive or council races.