Blogs > Northern Ohio Local Politics

Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Will March 6 be a Super Tuesday in Ohio?

Ohio lawmakers finally were able to come together recently to save the state $15 million next year by consolidating the state’s two primaries to March 6.

Elections officials along with local governments and countless others had urged state lawmakers to come up with a solution for just one primary, which eventually came in the form of House Bill 369.

The law essentially repealed the presidential primary for June 12 that also would have seen partisan candidates for U.S. House of Representatives on the ballot. Now all the primaries will be March 6.

An interesting wrinkle to the development is candidacy petitions for congressional races have been ruled invalid, so these candidates essentially have a new filing deadline and must refile petitions. That means congressional candidates must obtain new signatures as well.

Candidates who had filed for Ohio’s 14th Congressional District were Dale Virgil Blanchard (Democrat), U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (Republican), David Macko (Libertarian) and Elaine R. Mastromatteo (Green).

These candidates must now submit new petitions and it could also open the door for other candidates to run.

The deal among Ohio lawmakers also included slightly different boundaries to shrink Ohio from 18 to 16 congressional districts as the state’s population didn’t grow as fast as others in the previous decade, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

With an earlier presidential primary, Ohio now has a greater opportunity to play a larger role to determine who the Republican Party nominates for president.

Before Ohio, just 13 states will have primary races or Republican caucuses to help determine who the delegates from their state will support during the Republican National Convention.

These states are Iowa (Jan. 3), New Hampshire (Jan. 10); Nevada, South Carolina (Jan. 21); Florida (Jan. 31); Maine, Nevada (Feb. 4); Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri (Feb. 7); Arizona, Michigan (Feb. 28); Washington (March 3).

Joining Ohio on March 6 are these 12 states: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

So you can see there was a good deal of incentive for Republicans to have an earlier primary as the level of influence rises in Ohio.

That also might mean that Republican candidates, such as current front runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, may spend more time and money in the state.

But who knows what the field will look like two months from now?

Ohio has traditionally played a key role to determine who becomes president, and that past has already come to play.

Keep in mind, President Barack Obama has made many visits to Ohio during his first term.

You may also recall Vice President Joe Biden recently made a campaign stop in Euclid to thank voters for their support to defeat state Issue 2, which sought to change the state’s collective bargaining laws.

The event also was designed to fire up supporters and energize the Democratic party as the president gears up for re-election.

Candidate forum

Lake County Tea Party will host a candidates forum from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 14 at Mentor Beach Park for the candidates running for the two Lake County commissioner positions. See Chuck Laughlin.


n Fundraiser for Jason Wuliger, candidate for Lake County recorder, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Gavi’s in Willoughby. Special guest is Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel. See Susan Culotta.

n Campaign kickoff for Linda Burhenne, candidate for Lake County commissioner, 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 12 at Spats Cafe in Concord Township. See Jack Burhenne.

n Fundraiser for Ted Andrzejewski, candidate for Lake County commissioner, 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 19 at Croatian Lodge in Eastlake. See. Ted or Patricia Andrzejewski.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: newsheraldjah

Friday, December 16, 2011

Will Lake’s sales tax rate rise in 2012?

In late August, Lake County Sheriff Daniel A. Dunlap asked commissioners to consider a 0.25 percent sales tax increase.

So far, nothing officially has happened, but there are rumblings.

The sales tax rate in Lake County is 6.25 percent, of which the county receives 0.50 percent and Laketran receives 0.25 percent. The state of Ohio receives 5.5 percent.

Lake County’s total rate is among the lowest in the state and is lower than neighboring Geauga (6.5 percent), Ashtabula (6.5 percent) and Cuyahoga (7.75 percent) counties.

To raise the sales tax would require commissioners to pass a resolution with two prior public hearings.

For an option to do so as an emergency measure, commissioners would need a unanimous vote.

Commissioners also could vote unanimously or by a 2-1 margin to place an issue on the countywide ballot.

A sales tax raise of 0.25 percent generates 25 cents for every $100 in taxable dollars spent and that could potentially generate an additional $7 million annually in revenue for the county.

Part of the reason a sales tax increase could happen is because the county continues to operate on smaller budgets.

Commissioners approved a $54.83 million budget this year, down from $58.54 million in 2010. In 2009, commissioners approved a budget of $61 million.

Some officials anticipate the budget for 2012 could be around $51 million, which would be a drop of about $10 million in just 3 years, due to a number of factors.

They include cuts from the state of Ohio to the state Local Government Fund, tangible personal property tax reimbursements, declining property values and the corresponding property tax paid, and a staggering decline in investment earnings due to interest rates near 0 percent.

Because of smaller budgets, Dunlap (and other elected officials) has continued to cut positions and has said that unless there is new revenue the four townships that rely primarily on his office for law enforcement services will have to step up financially if they want to keep close to the same level of service.

Road patrols by the Sheriff’s Office are not a requirement of state law and they might disappear. Already, the sheriff has said complaints are stacked and deputies respond when available.

Commissioner Daniel P. Troy, a Democrat, has said if the county can’t do what state law requires, then he would take a look at increased revenues.

But to gain Troy’s support, he has said any sales tax raise would have be done through a bipartisan vote whether unanimously or by a 2-1 margin.

Commissioner Raymond E. Sines, a Republican, who isn’t running next year for re-election, said in August that he felt the county hadn’t reached a position where a sales tax increase would be necessary.

Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish, a Democrat, has said previously that the county departments will need to be streamlined before he would consider a sales tax raise.

Has the county has reached that point as commissioners prepare the 2012 budget? County Auditor Edward H. Zupancic and Treasurer John Crocker are among those who support the idea.

When it comes to preparation of budgets, salary and benefits comprise the biggest chunk of expenditures.

So that means in order to cut expenses, people need to be laid off or at least see their hours cut.

Maybe that’s what will happen with departments open two, three or four days a week?

Earlier this month, Troy suggested the auditor, recorder and treasurer strongly consider consolidations of their staffs to help streamline operations.

Each of the three elected officials said they wouldn’t be opposed to discussing the idea, but added that their staff already has been sharply cut and it’s not like employees sit around with no work to do.

As each department continues to see their annual funding shrink what other choices are left?

Can the 11th largest county in Ohio function well with departments that may closed or with part-time employees?

Would people really notice a difference, if such a change occurred?

Perhaps that is the choice potentially facing the three county commissioners.

Is it worth it to ask shoppers to pay a little bit more to continue to enjoy the level of county services they have now?

Regardless, 2012 should be a difficult budget for the county to assemble and tough choices lie ahead.
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cop Killer bill gets State Senate approval

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today praised the Ohio Senate's passage of Senate Bill 258 by a unanimous 33-0 vote. Senate Bill 258 will establish a Blue Alert to notify Ohioans when a law enforcement officer has been wounded or killed and his or her assailant remains at large.

"Any person brazen enough to kill or harm law enforcement is very likely to be willing to harm civilians.  They pose a danger not only to those in uniform, but also to the public at large," said Attorney General Dewine. "While we hope such a system may never have to be used, a Blue Alert can clearly assist in apprehending dangerous persons who have attacked law enforcement officers. I applaud the Ohio Senate for its unanimous support of Senate Bill 258 and urge the House of Representatives to take quick action as well."

Earlier today, Attorney General DeWine testified in support of Senate Bill 258 before the Ohio Senate Highways and Transportation Committee.  A copy of Attorney General DeWine's Testimony is available on the Ohio Attorney General's Website.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nothing dull about the 2012 primary

The primary election is set for March 6 — for now — and it certainly shouldn’t be a boring one in Lake and Geauga counties.

Several contested races should be entertaining to watch. Here are a few out of the gate:

The Democratic primary for Lake County treasurer pits state Rep. Lorraine M. Fende, Mentor-on-the-Lake Mayor John Rogers and Perry Township Fiscal Officer Christine J. Page.

Fende has high name recognition, especially in western Lake County; Rogers lives and works in the center of the county; and Page, from eastern Lake County, ran for auditor in 2008.

For Lake County commissioner term commencing Jan. 2, 2013, Willowick Council President Judy Moran and Eastlake Mayor Ted Andrzejewski face off in the Democratic primary. Moran ran for commissioner in 2008, narrowly losing to Commissioner Raymond E. Sines. Andrzejewski makes his first bid for a countywide office and is mayor of one of the county’s larger cities.

For Lake County commissioner term commencing Jan. 3, 2013, Leroy Township Trustee Linda Burhenne and Madison Village Council President John Hamercheck battle in the Republican primary. Interesting, as both are from smaller eastern Lake County communities.

In Geauga County, there are just two contested Republican primaries, but both are for commissioner races.

Walter M. Claypool filed to run for the term commencing Jan. 2, 2013, against incumbent Tracy Jemison. Ralph Spidalieri filed for the term commencing Jan. 3, 2013, against incumbent Mary Samide.

Late announcements

n Emilee Teresczuk, a Mentor Republican, filed to run for Lake County Clerk of Courts. Teresczuk cites in her announcement that she wants to help the county be the best place it can be to live, work and raise a family and says she plans to use her energy and understanding of technology as an asset to the Clerk’s office.

n Eastlake Councilwoman Laura DePledge, a Democrat, filed to run for Ohio House of Representatives District 60. DePledge cites in her announcement that people want a change in their government and residents look for accountability, answers, action, and are tired of divisiveness that slows progress in community development.

n North Perry Councilman Richard Shreve, a Republican, filed to run for Lake County commissioner term commencing Jan. 2, 2013. Shreve cites in his announcement that he will encourage additional public and private participation, communication and cooperation, while looking to balance fiscal alternatives with common sense and hard work.

n Former Court of Appeals Judge William Michael O’Neill, a South Russell Democrat, filed to run for the Ohio Supreme Court seat currently held by Justice Robert Cupp. O’Neill cites in his announcement that he is running against a broken system and that the race is about money. O’Neill says he will not accept contributions from lawyers who could appear before him.

n Rusty Bliss, a Willoughby Republican, filed as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Bliss said in his announcement the choice to run as a write-in candidate is humbling yet it isn’t impossible to gain victory. Bliss said his passion, commitment and dedication will allow him to run strong.

Celebrating Democracy

Former Lake County Elections Board Director Janet F. Clair will be recognized by the Elections Board at a retirement party at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Croatian Lodge Party Center in Eastlake. U.S. Rep. Steven. C. LaTourette will be master of ceremonies.


n Moran’s campaign kickoff from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at Capelli’s in Mentor. See Kathy Russo.

n Fiebig’s Seasons Event from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at Dino’s in Willoughby. See Cindy Quinn-Hopkins or Joyce Hribar Fiebig.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Filing deadline listing of candidates, issues for Lake, Geauga counties

Lake and Geauga candidate and issue filings for the March 6 primary

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A flurry of filings near the deadline

Unless something changes quickly, 4 p.m. Wednesday is the deadline for partisan candidates to file to run for office March 6, except for U.S. House of Representatives and president.

Races have begun to shape up quickly and include several contested primaries.

As of this writing, there is a potential two-way Democratic primary for Lake County treasurer, as state Rep. Lorraine M. Fende of Willowick and Perry Township Fiscal Officer Christine J. Page each have filed for the party nomination.

Who will run as the Republican Party candidate for treasurer? So far, no one has filed, but Mentor Councilman Scott J. Marn is mentioned as a possibility.

Marn is also mentioned as potential candidate for Lake County commissioner where two Republicans — Willoughby Hills Councilman at large David M. Fiebig and North Perry Village Councilman Richard Shreve — have filed for the Jan. 2, 2013, term held by Commissioner Raymond E. Sines, who doesn’t plan to run for re-election.

Willowick Council President Judy Moran is the lone Democrat to file for this term. Perhaps Eastlake Mayor Ted Andrzejewski will file too?

So far, no Republican has filed for the Jan. 3, 2013, seat where incumbent Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish, a Wickliffe Democrat, is the only candidate.

We’re still waiting for Commissioner Daniel P. Troy, a Willowick Democrat who is not up for re-election next year, to make up his mind whether he will run for state representative for the Ohio House 60 District. 

Troy has made no secret of his interest in the position for which another Willowick Democrat, James Helmink, has also filed.

If Troy or another Democrat files (maybe Mentor-on-the-Lake Mayor John Rogers), it would create another contested primary.

Other candidates to file in Lake County are county Clerk of Courts Maureen G. Kelly, a Democrat seeking re-election; Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge Vincent A. Culotta, a Kirtland Republican seeking re-election; and Concord Township resident Ann M. Radcliffe for county recorder,

Recent Geauga County filings

Robert A. Evans has filed to run for county coroner, and Mark E. Porter has filed to run for Ohio House of Representatives 76th District. Others signing out petitions include Mary E. O’Toole and Anthony Peto.

Perhaps one of these three people will be appointed by Ohio House Republicans to replace state Rep. Richard Hollington, R-Hunting Valley, when he becomes mayor of his city in January.

The district will consist of Hunting Valley, Middlefield, Burton, and the townships of Auburn, Bainbridge, Burton, Chardon, Chester, Middlefield, Munson, Newbury, Parkman and Russell in Geauga County, plus all of Portage County.

Potential Ohio Senate vacancy?

State Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, is the state senator for the Ohio Senate District 25, which in 2013 will consist of Eastlake, Fairport Harbor, Grand River, Lakeline, Mentor Ward 4, Mentor-on-the-Lake, Painesville, parts of Painesville Township, Timberlake, Wickliffe, Willoughby and Willowick in Lake County, plus Euclid, Richmond Heights and other eastern Cuyahoga County communities.

She has filed petitions with the Cuyahoga County Elections Board to run for 11th Congressional District in a potential primary with incumbent U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights.

If Turner wins, Ohio Senate Democrats would be able to appoint a new state senator. If Turner loses, she still would have two years remaining on her state Senate seat.


n Jason Wuliger, candidate for Lake County recorder, campaign kickoff will be 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Cork’s Wine Bar in Willoughby. See Susan Culotta.

n Moran’s campaign kickoff from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Capelli’s in Mentor. See Kathy Russo.

n Fiebig’s Seasons Event from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 12 at Dino’s Restaurant in Willoughby. See Cindy Quinn-Hopkins or Joyce Hribar Fiebig.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: newsheraldjah