Richmond Heights Mayor Miesha Headen to Face Recall Election

A committee to recall Richmond Heights Mayor Miesha Headen gathered the requisite signatures and then some (1,000+) for a petition last week. The petition was promptly validated by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, which meant that Headen had five days to resign or face a city recall vote.

Headen refused to resign — no one suspected she would — and members of city council, Headen’s chief antagonists, now have 45 days to arrange the vote, which will cost upwards of $20,000, according to the Board of Elections. Early word from council is the vote will likely take place on either Tuesday, September 23, or Tuesday, September 30. 

Headen has now held office eight months. Her tenure has been marked by constant bickering and maneuvering with city council, whose president, David Roche, would assume the mayoralty if Headen were to be recalled.

Headen has acknowledged (at least through her assistant Ed Busch) that she made some rash decisions early on, but maintains that council’s ongoing administrative blockades and stubborn refusal to meet halfway are attempts to punish her. Her supporters agree, saying that council is discomfited by Headen’s refusal to conform to the “old boys’ club” school of governance.

Headen is characterizing council’s recall rabble-rousing as little more than a power grab.

“A scheme was hatched the day I was elected eight months ago,” she wrote in an email to supporters Monday morning, “the idea that City Council was going to have its way, all day, every day. If I said the sky was blue, they chose another color… The truth of the matter is that we have to move away from the bad old days of cronyism and waste to government that is for the people and by the people. Council’s campaign of misinformation and half-truths has to stop.”

Headen reminded recipients that if she were to be recalled, Roche would serve as Mayor for the remainder of her four-year term without having to stand for election.

“Tell him to enter through the front door, not the back door,” Headen wrote.

Mr. Roche wasn’t immediately available for comment, but Donald O’Toole, who occupies one of Richmond Heights’ two at-large council seats, said that if Roche became mayor, he’d keep his nose to the grindstone.

“There has been so many incendiary things in the papers,” O’Toole said. “I’m gonna guess he’d want to move the city forward without a lot of hoopla.”

O’Toole said Roche would certainly seek the opinion of council in any major decisions.

“He wouldn’t try to go and do things on his own. He would do the things we’ve been doing all along,” O’Toole said.

The Committee to Recall Mayor Headen’s website says the decision to recall the Mayor “is not taken lightly,” but is based on Headen’s “inability to discharge the duties of the office of the Mayor.”

Much more salient seems to be everyone’s anxiety about negative press:

“Having a new Mayor, one might expect some coverage (positive and negative),” reads the committee’s website. “However, many residents share concern for the constant negative reporting regarding the city's management and how it has negatively impacted our city's image. We once enjoyed a city which attracted home buyers and others. The ongoing strife negatively impacts us all.”