In counties like the “State of Cuyahoga,” where politics — reform movement aside — remains something akin to a bloodsport, the Labor Day kickoff of the political season is always much anticipated by the party faithful. Where else (besides perhaps at a funeral) are you going to see so many old friends and comrades-in-arms than at an event like the 11th Congressional District Parade and Festival held each year at Luke Easter Park?
Dr. David Miller, an associate professor at Case’s Mandel School, was one of the first academics to embrace my writings (and me, by inviting me on campus to address one of his classes) when I first got out of prison years ago, and now he’s the president of City Council in South Euclid, and running for re-election. It’s been close to a decade since I’d seen him.
Another old friend I saw at the event was Brad Sellers, who, at seven feet tall sort of sticks out of the crowd. He’s the guy that brought all of the development to Warrensville Heights while serving as development director under then-mayor and now Congresswoman Marcia Fudge. He’s in a hot contest for the mayor’s job in that suburb.
As I stood on the curb near the reviewing stand at the end of the parade route, James McDonnell, a candidate for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s job, marched by with about 20 of his supporters. A seemingly friendly and gregarious man, he walked over to me, stuck his hand out and introduced himself.
And I liked the straightforward answer he gave when I asked him this: “Given the fact the county is comprised of 30 percent minorities, do you think it would have helped your chances to have had some persons of color marching with you?”
“That would have been hypocritical,” was McDonnell’s response. By his answer I suppose he meant that since he doesn’t have any supporters of color paying some Black folks to walk with him (as some politicians do), it would have been disingenuous. While I appreciate his candor, I still am always concerned when I see politicians running countrywide campaigns that don’t appear to be racially inclusive, like Subodh Chandra’s contingency was.
For African-Americans, who ends up being the country prosecutor is of vital importance, and here’s why: Last year I visited a rehab facility located on the far Westside of Cleveland, and when I asked the director why virtually all of the clients were White, he laughingly responded, “because they send all of the brothers to prison.” While things are slowly changing we need to assure the next prosecutor doesn’t attempt to build their reputation and career advancement opportunities on the backs of imprisoned Blacks.
Speaking of political smarts, the deal Ed Fitzgerald sealed with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted last week over the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot applications to county voters was a smart one. In return for Fitzgerald not attempting to send out the applications this year, Husted agreed to send them out to voters in all 88 Ohio counties for the 2012 presidential election.
The reason the move was so smart is that given the makeup of the Ohio Supreme Court (where this issue would have landed if Fitzgerald had stuck to his plan for the mailing) the idea was going to get shot down anyway. Fitzgerald gave away nothing, and got something. The problem is, come 2012 it’s a sure bet Husted will figure out a way to renig on his promise… bet on it.
Lastly, the way opposition to the voter suppression bill (H.B. 194) and Issue 2 (the effort to repeal S.B. 5 which takes away workers’ rights) are gaining steam, it’s going to be a very interesting election season, one in which Gov. Kasich might come to realize that he’s bitten off more than he can chew… as he gets run over by his own political bus.
From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available again in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author by visiting http://www.neighborhoodsolutionsinc.com.