Roughly 7,000 people assembled on Public Square for the Cleveland Women’s March Saturday, according to official police estimates. An impassioned slate of speakers praised the energy of the crowd and encouraged those distraught by the current political climate to protest with their votes.
City Councilman Kerry McCormack, Democratic Lt. Gov. candidates Betty Sutton (Richard Cordray) and Tara Samples (Dennis Kucinich), activist Latonya Goldsby and others were at times electrifying in their remarks. They made clear that only with new and better candidates can there be meaningful change.
Simultaneously, at Euclid High School, the powerful Cuyahoga County Democratic Party voted in alignment with city leaders to endorse Marty Sweeney, a man who settled a sexual harassment claim in 2007, for the 23rd District of the Ohio State Senate.
The endorsement is a dark mark on the party. Sweeney is a West Park Irish good old boy, and he settled the aforementioned claim at taxpayer expense. Yet he was voted as the party’s choice over current state rep Nickie Antonio, a committed progressive.
The endorsement arrived not only on the day of the Women’s March but in the midst of a national reckoning with sexual assault, in the wake of which politicians have resigned, Hollywood stars have been blacklisted and powerful men have been held publicly accountable for their misconduct.
Though Sweeney admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, former Clerk of Council Emily Lipovan accused him of repeated sexual harassment and of directing an aid to snoop on her computer.
Sweeney was Cleveland City Council President from 2006-2013, during which time he oversaw a redistricting effort that angered many of his colleagues. (He also presided over a period of enormous growth
for the Council Leadership fund.) Sweeney left on spiteful terms and is now a state legislator known for back-slapping and rumpled suits.
Nickie Antonio has served four terms as a State Rep in District 13, which includes Lakewood and much of the city’s near west side. She is running for State Senate because of term limits. She was one of the key legislators who joined with local activists to reboot Cleveland Pride as "Pride in the CLE
" two years ago.