As the filing deadline approaches, the race for the 11 seats on Cuyahoga County’s brand-new county council is shaping up to be a free-for-all. As of Monday, 142 candidates had pulled petitions to run and more than 80 had filed. A bonus avalanche of petitions is also expected in the final days this week.
Included in the late flurry is at least one significant candidate: Attorney James Levin, founder of Cleveland Public Theatre and the Ingenuity Festival, and the driving force behind the revival of the Gordon Square neighborhood. He parachuted last week into a crowded field of 17 candidates for the District 7 seat, which represents three northeast-side wards and two west-side wards that sprawl from the lake to the city’s southern border at Cuyahoga Heights. (Only District 1 has drawn more challengers.)
For those who prefer their candidates to have actual achievements under their belt, Levin would appear a worthy contender. But his connections and ability to leverage tax money for development could be unsettling for those concerned about potential conflicts of interest.
Elsewhere, the candidates range from the experienced and/or well-connected — like former state Senator Dale Miller — to dewy-eyed recent college graduates and earnest citizens, to perennial candidates like funeral home director Pernel Jones Jr., to the completely unhinged.
Count Republican Thomas Olschlager in the latter category. The District 4 (mostly Parma) candidate, who briefly ran for the chance to face Dennis Kucinich in the fall, boasts a website that touts the average number of abortions per woman in the old Soviet Union — a key statistic for mapping the future of Cuyahoga County.