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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Four Willoughby Hills council members to be sworn-in Friday

Willoughby Hills Council members Nancy E. Fellows, David M. Fiebig, Chris Hallum, and Councilman-elect John T. Plecnik will be sworn-in at 5:30 p.m. Friday during a ceremony at city hall.

Lake County Probate Court Judge Mark J. Bartolotta will preside and a reception will follow the event.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Local lawmakers discuss legislative highlights in 2013

Now that 2013 is winding down and the Ohio General Assembly is on recess, two local state lawmakers discussed some of the bigger legislative highlights for the year.

State Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township, and state Rep. John Rogers, D-Mentor-on-the-Lake, touched on three items in particular during separate interviews with The News-Herald this week.

Both legislators felt the passage of the state’s biennial budget was among the top pieces of legislation because it sets the direction of state policy and spending for the next two years.

Eklund, who was the only state legislator representing Lake or Geauga counties to vote in favor of the measure, pointed to the overall tax burden that was reduced by $2.7 billion. He said most of the tax relief is in the form of state income tax cuts during the next three years.

Rogers said almost no one enjoys paying taxes, but the tax cuts didn’t do much to help the middle class and lower-income workers.

He also said the expansion of the state sales tax might cause some taxpayers to pay a higher percentage of their income because the income tax cuts favor people who are wealthier.

Another major bill passed this year was the state’s $7.6 billion transportation budget that allows the state to issue $1.5 billion in bonds leveraged from the Ohio Turnpike revenue for transportation projects mostly in the northern half of the state.

Eklund, who voted in favor of the legislation, said the utilization of these funds should bring more than $3 billion worth of infrastructure projects and the bill should create an estimated 65,000 jobs in Ohio.

Rogers, who voted against the bill, said his chief concern was that the promised funds for projects in northern Ohio weren’t clearly defined in the legislation and that tolls for the roadways have increased.

When it comes to job creation, Rogers has concerns about the state’s JobsOhio, which is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes job creation and economic development for Ohio.

He said there is a lack of transparency for the organization. He said because it is considered to be private in nature there is very little scrutiny that can be utilized by the public to see how successful JobsOhio is doing and if it is spending taxpayer funding wisely.

Eklund touted legislation designed to spur job creation called the Common Sense Initiative.

It reviews Ohio’s regulatory system to eliminate excessive and duplicative rules and regulations that stand in the way of job creation.

Eklund said the idea is to look at whether regulations are justified given the potentially good outcomes they produce.

He said the legislation helps to make the state a more friendly business community.

Tighter race?

Public Policy Polling’s newest survey of the Ohio governor’s race finds Republican John Kasich polling at 40 percent, Democrat Ed FitzGerald at 38 percent, and Libertarian Charlie Earl at 6 percent. Sixteen percent of voters remain undecided.

The poll can be viewed at and was sponsored by Freedom Ohio, an organization that describes itself as a movement dedicated to end marriage discrimination in Ohio as soon as November 2014.


The weekly deadline to submit information for this column is each Wednesday by 5 p.m. Email or fax is preferred.


  • Campaign kickoff for Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor. See Lu Dunlap.
  • John P. O’Donnell, candidate for Lake County Common Pleas Court, hosts a fundraiser 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, at LaMalfa Party Center. See Mike Lucas, Mike Bucci or Ann Bergen.
  • Lake County Domestic Relations Court Judge Colleen A. Falkowski hosts a fundraiser from 5:30 to 7:30 Jan. 30 at LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor. See Brian Falkowski.
John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Monday, December 16, 2013

State Sen. John Eklund discusses 2013 legislative highlights

State Sen. John Eklund, R-Munson Township, stopped by The News-Herald on Monday to discuss some of the legislative highlights that he feels are important to his constituents in Ohio Senate District 18.

The district includes half of Lake County, two-thirds of Geauga County and all of Portage County.

Here is some of what Eklund had to say:

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Time to ponder a Lake County run

’Tis the season for political speculation, as potential candidates in 2014 toss around the idea of whether to make a run for office.

A few folks have already pulled candidacy petitions as they get ready for the holidays, while some may still be in the process of weighing the pros and cons of a candidacy.

The filing deadline to run in the May 6 primary as a partisan candidate is Feb. 5. Independent candidates have a filing deadline of May 5.

An interesting primary may be to determine who the Republican candidate is to run for Lake County commissioner. The seat is currently held by Commissioner Daniel P. Troy, a Willowick Democrat who so far is indicating he will run for re-election, although he’s put some thought into running for Congress. If he does run for re-election, I think it would be tough to see any primary opponent seriously challenge him.

Several Republican names I’m hearing are North Perry Councilman Dick Shreve; Madison Village Councilman John R. Hamercheck; Willoughby Hills Councilman David M. Fiebig; Concord Township Trustee Christopher Galloway; and Willoughby resident Kim Laurie, who is president of the 9/12 Project in Mentor.

Shreve, Hamercheck and Fiebig ran for commissioner in 2012, with the latter two winning their party nomination, but losing in the general election.

I’m hearing there is heavy interest on the Democratic side to run for Lake County Common Pleas Court judge term commencing Jan. 5. The seat is currently held by Judge Joe Gibson, a Democrat who can’t seek re-election due to age limits.

Republican John P. O’Donnell has already filed petitions to run for the seat, and indications are that he won’t have a primary opponent.

People I hear considering a run on the Democratic side are Dennis LaConti, who ran against Gibson in the 2008 Democratic primary, along with Painesville Law Director Ron Graham and Jim Dugan, who ran in a 2008 Democratic primary for Lake County Juvenile Court judge.

For Lake County Probate Court, appointed Judge Mark J. Bartolotta, a Republican, plans to run to retain the seat, and Mentor Prosecutor Lisa Klammer, a Democrat, plans to challenge him. Keep your eye on a potential independent candidate, as it’s possible someone like Heidi Koenig might run.

Take two

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald will have another opportunity to pick a running mate, now that his first choice, state Sen. Eric Kearney of Cincinnati, is off the ticket.

The selection of Kearney and the subsequent decision for him to leave as a lieutenant governor candidate doesn’t reflect well on the campaign. But there is still time for a rebound, and it’s dependent on who is eventually selected.

Some potential choices may include former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who lives in Columbus, and state Rep. Tracey Maxwell Heard, a Columbus resident who is the Ohio House of Representatives minority leader.

Metroparks appointment

It will be interesting to see who Bartolotta appoints when the term of Lake Metroparks Commissioner Ellen Foley Kessler, a Democrat, expires Dec. 31. Will she be reappointed or will someone new take her place? Keep in mind, each of the three current Metroparks commissioners is a Democrat.

Swearing in

Josh Pennock and Chuck Hillier will be sworn in as Painesville Township trustees at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday during the trustee meeting at Township Hall.


The weekly deadline to submit information for this column is each Wednesday by 5 p.m. Email or fax is preferred.


  • Campaign kickoff for Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor. See Lu Dunlap.
  • John P. O’Donnell, candidate for Lake County Common Pleas Court, hosts a fundraiser 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, at LaMalfa Party Center. See Mike Lucas, Mike Bucci or Ann Bergen.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eric Kearney to step down as Ed FitzGerald's choice as lieutenant governor

Here is the full statement from Eric H. Kearney:

“When my wife Jan-Michele and I purchased the Cincinnati Herald we knew it would be a challenge. The media business was changing rapidly, and newspapers—both large and small—were struggling to adapt and remain profitable. But we were dedicated to keeping alive one of our nation’s oldest African-American newspapers and committed to our employees and their families.

Given the challenges the Herald faced, other small business owners might have walked away. But, we never considered closing our business because it would have meant shutting down a respected community newspaper dating back to the Civil Rights era, and putting people out of work.

When I became a State Senator in 2005, I stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the newspaper to focus on representing my hometown in the Ohio Senate. I have devoted my time in the Senate to improving children’s health, ensuring fair elections, and growing our state’s economy.   Among the pieces of legislation that I was able to pass was a bill setting up a loan program that grants financial assistance to families wanting to adopt.

During my tenure as Minority Leader, I worked across the aisle with former Senate President Tom Neihaus to enact reforms to stabilize and strengthen Ohio’s public pension systems. It wasn’t easy, but it shows what can be accomplished if you take a thoughtful and bipartisan approach to solving problems and treat people with respect.

Last month I accepted an opportunity to run for Lieutenant Governor because I believe this state is headed in the wrong direction. Ohio’s unemployment rate is rising, voting rights are threatened, and our schools and local communities don’t have the resources they need.

As questions arose about the financial challenges facing our newspaper business I wanted to set the record straight. That’s why I provided hundreds of documents and answered questions from reporters from across the state. This was all done to let the facts be known and to ensure complete transparency.  I am convinced our business is on a path to resolving these issues in the near future and the facts support that conclusion.

With that being said, it’s undeniable that this has come to be a distraction from a discussion of the vital issues facing Ohio, and the choice voters must make in this election. The stakes are too high: we need a change of leadership to move Ohio in a new direction that puts more Ohioans back to work and builds a better future for our children.

I have discussed this with Ed FitzGerald, and while I will always be grateful for him selecting me to be his running mate, we agree that the best course of action is for me to step aside from the campaign for Lieutenant Governor and focus on serving the people of the Ninth Senate district.”

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson endorses Armond Budish in Cuyahoga County executive race

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson today endorsed Armond Budish for Cuyahoga County executive.

Budish, a Beachwood Democrat and state representative, looks to win a Democratic Party primary next May.

Other Democratic candidates mentioned for the position have included former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid and state Sen. Shirley Smith

“I am endorsing Armond Budish today, and I’m looking forward to working cooperatively with him on our shared vision for Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and the region,” Jackson said in a news release. “Armond Budish has an established record of bringing people together to accomplish common goals, and I believe he is the right person to lead our county,” Mayor Jackson said.

Budish in a news release thanked Mayor Jackson for the endorsement.

“If we are to successfully move our county forward, to create new jobs, train folks for the thousands of good jobs that already exist but are unfilled, and keep our kids here at home, the county and the city of Cleveland must form a strong and constructive partnership," Budish said. “I look forward to working hand-in-hand with Mayor Jackson on our shared vision for our community’s future.”

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Monday, December 9, 2013

U.S. Reps. Dave Joyce and Tim Ryan introduce legislation to award Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights icon Simeon Booker

U.S. Reps. Dave Joyce, R-Russell Township, and Tim Ryan, D-Niles, have introduced legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights reporter and icon Simeon Booker in recognition of his achievements in the field of journalism.

Here’s is what the two congressman had to say in a news release:

“Simeon Booker dedicated his career to covering the civil rights movement and achieved many firsts in his field, including becoming the first African-American reporter to win a Newspaper Guild Award and the first full-time African-American reporter at The Washington Post,” Joyce stated.  We’re proud that Booker started his journalism career in Youngstown, and believe he’s a worthy recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.

“I couldn’t think of a more worthy American than Simeon Booker to be awarded Congress’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. His long and illustrious career in journalism and his work to advance the civil rights movement has forever changed our nation for the better,” said Congressman Ryan. “Simeon Booker has devoted his life’s work to breaking barriers and changing the hearts and minds of all those he touched through his writing . He is a true American hero.”

Booker began his career writing about Negro League baseball teams for the Youngstown Vindicator. In 1950, he received the Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and develop his talent as a reporter. After one year at Harvard, Booker became the first full-time African American reporter at the Washington Post. In 1955 he helped advance the civil rights movement with his famous coverage of the Emmett Till murder and trial – turning a common occurrence in the Deep South into a national tragedy that united the African American community. In 1961, he rode with the Congress On Racial Equality (CORE) Freedom Riders through the Deep South; and, when they were firebombed and beaten by the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, Booker arranged for their rescue by calling U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Booker is often referred to as the “Dean of the Black Press”. He has covered every presidential election since 1953 and is the author of two highly acclaimed books: Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Man’s America.

His honors and awards include: Nieman Fellowship, Harvard University 1950; elected president of the Capitol Press Club, 1956; Fourth Estate Award, National Press Club, 1982: inducted into Hall of Fame, Washington Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, and Hall of Fame of Washington, D.C. 1984; Master Communicators Award, National Black Media Coalition, 1998; Phoenix Award, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, 2010; inducted into Hall of Fame, National Association of Black Journalists, 2013.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rep. Marcia Fudge to attend Nelson Mandela memorial service in South Africa

U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge announced Sunday she plans to attend the national memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa as part of an official U.S. Congressional delegation.

Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights, will attend the public memorial service on Tuesday in FNB stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Mandela, who was revered around the world for his life-long struggle to end apartheid and who became his country’s first democratically elected and first black president, died Thursday at age 95.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have also announced they will attend the Tuesday memorial service for Mandela in South Africa.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Ohio Senate District 25 race heating up

The race for the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2014 for the Ohio Senate 25th District has begun to heat up as a prominent endorsement recently was granted.

U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights, this week endorsed former state Rep. Ed Jerse of Euclid for the seat. Jerse is running in a Democratic Party primary next year against former state Rep. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights.

The district includes 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, South Euclid and other eastern Cuyahoga County communities.

To his credit, Yuko has the endorsement of state Sen. Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, who is not seeking re-election because she is running for Ohio Secretary of State against incumbent Jon Husted, a Republican.

This Ohio Senate race should be one of the more interesting ones to watch next year between two former state lawmakers who had to leave the Ohio General Assembly due to term limits.

So which one of the candidates will emerge victorious? The Republican primary, if there is one, likely won’t be as high profile because the district leans Democratic.

In the grand scheme of state politics, the Ohio Senate is dominated by Republicans who hold a 23-10 majority, and if the seat is kept by a Democrat then it won’t represent a seismic shift in policy. The same holds true if a Republican wins.

However, with so few numbers, members in the minority who serve in Ohio Senate districts throughout the state have to be capable of making their voices heard loud and clear for their party’s ideas and can’t be shy of the media spotlight.

Turner, who was the Ohio Senate Minority Whip until just recently stepping down, has appeared to enjoy that role especially as a frequent guest on MSNBC and actively involved on Twitter with more than 19,000 followers.

On an individual basis, serving as an Ohio state senator can lead to bigger possibilities down the road, such as in Turner’s case as she seeks to win a statewide position.

State Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, who is the Ohio Senate minority leader, was also tapped by Ohio gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald as his choice for lieutenant governor in 2014.

Keep the change

Legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives aims to transfer unclaimed money recovered at airport security checkpoints to nonprofit organizations that provide places of rest and recuperation at airports for members of the Armed Forces and their families. According to the House Homeland Security Committee, the Transportation Security Administration makes on average $465,285 from airport check points annually.

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Russell Township, voted in support of the measure that moves on to the U.S. Senate.

“It’s a simple concept, but certainly a worthy one, considering the sacrifices made by our troops every day,” Joyce said in an email.

Swearing-in event

Three winners in the Nov. 5 election will be sworn-in at 1 p.m. Dec. 18 at Cardinal High School by Ohio Supreme Court Justice William M. O’Neill.

Nancy Ferguson will be sworn-in for Cardinal School Board; Richard Seyer and Ronald Wiech will be sworn in for Middlefield Village Council.

The swearing-in will be held in conjunction with the high school government/politics class to include the students in the political process and to demonstrate the importance of exercising the right and responsibility to vote.


The weekly deadline to submit information for this column is each Wednesday by 5 p.m. Email or fax is preferred.


  • Campaign kickoff for Lake County Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at LaMalfa Party Center in Mentor. See Lu Dunlap.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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