The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has ruled that 25-year-old Bride Rose Sweeney, daughter of former Cleveland City Council President and current state rep Marty Sweeney, may run for her father's seat, despite the fact that she has lived and worked in Columbus for the past three years.
One of Bride Sweeney's opponents, Rick Raley, brought the challenge to the Board, arguing that because Sweeney had worked and lived in Columbus until very recently, she did not fulfill legal residency requirements to seek elected office in Cuyahoga County.
Those requirements, per the Ohio Revised Code, are as follows;
(A) That place shall be considered the residence of a person in which the person’s habitation is fixed and to which, whenever the person is absent, the person has the intention of returning.
(B) A person shall not be considered to have lost the person’s residence who leaves the person’s home and goes into another state or county of this state, for temporary purposes only, with the intention of returning.
(C) A person shall not be considered to have gained a residence in any county of this state into which the person comes for temporary purposes only, without the intention of making such county the permanent place of abode.
Bride Sweeney's attorney, Scott Hubay, argued effectively Monday morning that because Sweeney "always intended to return" to Cleveland, she technically had legal residence there. In a written response to Raley's complaint, Sweeney provided bank statements which showed she has returned to Cleveland on recent weekends. She also included a picture of her bedroom and a bathroom (with her toothbrush in view) to demonstrate that she had maintained a permanent residence at her dad's house in Cleveland's Ward 16.
Raley, in argument Monday (via Cleveland.com's report
), suggested that if a requirement for maintaining legal residence was merely having a bedroom at one's parents' house after moving out, "pretty much all of us may be living with our parents still."
In a phone call with Scene after the hearing, Raley said that while he disagreed with the interpretation of the law, he respected the Board's decision. Once Sweeney said she intended to return, Raley said, "their hands were tied." He said that there is an appeals process, but he won't be pursuing it, focusing instead on the primary campaign.
Raley released an official statement as well.
“This process has established one thing for sure," it read, "Bride Sweeney is not ready to serve as a State Representative from the 14th District. In the course of arguing that she’s not a Columbus resident, despite living there for the past three years, Ms. Sweeney has admitted to never paying a mortgage payment, rental payment, property tax bill, utility bill, or residence tax for any address located within the 14th District. She has acknowledged that she’s never held a full-time job within the 14th District and she has never taken the time to explain to the people of this district why she has covered her tracks and deleted social media posts regarding her residence in Columbus.”
Raley, who lives in West Park and currently works in the Summit County Prosecutor's office, said he thinks voters will be able to tell for themselves that regardless of legal residency, Bride Sweeney just doesn't have the experience or qualifications to represent the district.
In response to a message seeking comment on the Board's ruling, Sweeney said: "I am grateful that the Board of Elections unanimously confirmed my candidacy and dismissed my opponent’s frivolous complaint. I am focused on working hard to prove to voters that I am the most qualified candidate in this race."
Marty Sweeney is vacating the 14th District State Rep seat to run against Nickie Antonio for a State Senate seat. Bride Rose Sweeney and Rick Raley will both go up against progressive candidate Steve Holecko and Carl Burgio in the May 8 primary.
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