"I think the voters of Cuyahoga County are ready," Tanner Fischbach tells me over lunch at the Corner Alley on East Fourth. "I think I might be the light at the end of the tunnel."
The last time Fischbach and I spoke
, his campaign for Cuyahoga County Executive had come to an abrupt halt. His calls for an upending of the county government had ended. Now, though, the old optimism — the fire
— is back.
This month, Fischbach pulled petitions for the soon-to-be-vacant helm of County Council's Fourth District. Incumbent Chuck Germana, a Democrat, is not running for re-election
. (The Fourth District encompasses Parma, Parma Heights and Middleburg Heights.)
Fischbach tells me he's got nothing to lose. The only fodder political opponents might have for the inevitable attack ads has to do with his inexperience. He hasn't held elected office. But Fischbach is prepared for his natural rejoinder: "Oh, so you have experience?" he says as he looks at his watch. "It's Oct. 23, almost 2 o'clock, and it's the same as it's been the past 30 years."
But what's the plan
Well, the 21-year-old conservative — who once described himself as a "young Republican punk" — wants to focus local government on the people who vote and pay taxes, rather than the people who fill out the comfy chairs in council chambers. He talks about bringing Ohio's slowly growing jobs numbers to the north coast and lowering the tax burden on new and old homeowners. (Property valuations are the number one issue that residents have been urging Fischbach to work on so far, he says.)
As he familiarizes himself with the structure and reach of county government, Fischbach hopes to capitalize on the downtown development boom by bringing businesses south to his district. Helping the county's small and big businesses means fostering healthy competition — the county's anti-poaching agreement is a bad deal for that sense of competition, he says.
County Executive Armond Budish is catering too much to big-business interests of the downtown core, Fischbach says, adding that the government's ken seems too narrowly focused on next year's Republican National Convention, "which is great, but what happens after the fact?"
For now, he's hitting the Fourth District streets and gathering signatures he'll need to officially enter the race. You can expect another fundraiser at Ace's in Middleburg Heights shortly after the new year, as well, where he'll doubtlessly opine on the future of county politics.
"My district won't be part of anything that's a bad deal for my district or the county," he says. "I'm trying to bring Cuyahoga County back."