All Three White Cleveland Mayoral Candidates Grilled About Trump at Ohio City Forum

click to enlarge L-R: Robert Kilo, Tony Madalone, Eric Brewer, Brandon Chrostowski, Jeff Johnson; Cleveland Mayoral Forum, Market Garden (8/29/2017) - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
L-R: Robert Kilo, Tony Madalone, Eric Brewer, Brandon Chrostowski, Jeff Johnson; Cleveland Mayoral Forum, Market Garden (8/29/2017)
Three of the nine candidates in the Cleveland mayoral race are white guys: Brandon Chrostowski, founder of EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute; Robert Kilo, a former businessman and non-profit executive; and Tony Madalone, owner of Fresh Brewed Tees.

All three are more or less Republicans. Kilo is a gung-ho conservative, a patriotic religious man with old-school values. He is officially endorsed by the local Republican party. Madalone is "running unaffiliated" but is a registered Republican. Chrostowski is more mercurial. He is running as an Independent and says he has supported both Republicans and Democrats in past elections.

"I have some conservative views that are extremely liberal,” Chrostowski told Scene in March. “And I have some liberal views that are extremely conservative." When Scene asked directly if Chrostowski voted for Trump, he said no. He "avoided both clowns in the election and stayed out of the circus."

At a candidates forum Tuesday night at Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City, all three were questioned about their support for Donald Trump. (In the audience Q&A portion, audience members could direct their questions to specific candidates).

Kilo is the only candidate who has stated publicly that he voted for Trump. And last night, when asked to defend his vote — and his safety plan, which is the most concrete of the mayoral challengers — in light of Trump's rhetoric around immigrants and the recent pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona, Kilo said he'd voted for Trump for two reasons.

"I am ardently pro-life, and I believe that his economic policies can positively impact this city," he said. But Kilo also said, echoing the theme of servant leadership that has underscored much of his platform, that a Cleveland mayor must put ideology to the side.

"You need a mayor who's going to be humble enough to recognize that whether it's Republicans or Democrats at the county level, the state level or the federal level, you need someone who's not going to bring his personal politics to the office, but who's going to lay his life down in service to the community," he said.

The last question of the night, wrapping up the two-and-a-half hour event, also concerned Trump. Ohio City resident Paula Kampf, who serves as administrator for the "Cleveland Resistance Community Against the Trump Administration" Facebook group, asked Brandon Chrostowski and Tony Madalone what it was they admired about President Trump and which of his policies they supported.

Chrostowski, for the first time (that we're aware of), identified himself a "Bernie guy," and said there wasn't much he stood behind in terms of Trump's actions and policies. He cited, in particular, Trump's ostracizing of minorities and immigrants. Madalone, for his part, said that he doesn't support any of Trump's policies currently, but did appreciate how Trump said what he felt on the campaign trail, and the fact that his candidacy "took on the establishment, which is what I'm doing."

Kilo answered as well, doubling down on earlier comments:

"Whatever happened to us as a society respecting the office the person holds?" He asked, at which portions of the crowd laughed. "You can laugh, but whether you're the President of the United States, the Governor of Ohio, a congressman or -woman, or the Mayor of the city of Cleveland — I can assure you when you're the mayor of Cleveland, you better be able to work with Republicans, Democrats, the White House, Capitol Hill, the state legislature, the governor. It's so easy to take pot shots at leaders from the sidelines. It's a lot different to get stuff done on behalf of the people."   

The forum was, in general, more laid back and jocular than recent events have been. Several of the eight candidates in attendance — all but Mayor Jackson — mentioned how close they had become on the campaign trail.

"These guys are like family members," candidate Dyrone Smith said in a touching opening statement. "I've been to so many forums with them they're like extended family members now."

The complete CLEcast forum is available to stream and download here. (And please feel free to skip to 1:25:20 to hear Eric Brewer ask if Citramax is a laxative.)

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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