Brian Mooney to Run for Judge, Would Vacate Cleveland Ward 11 Council Seat if Elected

click to enlarge A "Keep Brian Mooney" sign in Cleveland's Ward 11, paid for by the Council Leadership Fund (10/13/21). - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
A "Keep Brian Mooney" sign in Cleveland's Ward 11, paid for by the Council Leadership Fund (10/13/21).

Ward 11 Cleveland City Councilman Brian Mooney has filed petitions to run for judge in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Scene has learned. 

An attorney and former assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Mooney was appointed to the city's legislative body by outgoing councilwoman Dona Brady in early 2020. He successfully fended off challenger Michael Hardy in the 2021 general election to retain his seat.

Less than three months after winning a new four-year term, however, Mooney has opted to seek another elected position. In a phone call Monday night, Mooney told Scene that he was doing so because of his own legal background and because of the dynamics of the local judicial races.

"Nobody was willing to run against [Republican Joan] Synenberg," Mooney said. "I think contested elections are better for democracy, and I wanted to make sure the voters have a choice." 

Synenberg is currently running unopposed for a six-year term in the general division of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. She most recently defeated Andrea Nelson Moore in 2016 and had been previously appointed to the bench by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Mooney would face no challengers on the Democratic side in the May primary and would go head-to-head against Synenberg in the November general.

Mooney said he couldn't speculate why no one had yet filed petitions to challenge Synenberg, but said he was unafraid and was looking forward to running a spirited campaign. He gathered his signatures this weekend—only 50 were required—and submitted them at the Board of Elections Monday. 

"Ordinarily I wouldn't have thought about it," he said. "But I'm qualified, and with my background, I feel like I have something to offer the judiciary."

Mooney said it was too early to think about the implications for Ward 11, but should he lose in the judicial race, he would retain his city council seat.

Council members tend to retire or seek new jobs after they've served two years of their four-year terms, at which point the city charter allows them to appoint successors on their own. But if Mooney is victorious in November, he would vacate his seat with three full years remaining, meaning a special election in the west side ward would be required.

"I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I would meet with the leaders and activists in my ward to help plan that process," he said. He has not thought about who he might support. 

"None of this is personal," Mooney said. "As much as it might seem that way, it's not. For me, it's fun. And it's giving people a choice. I'm going to run a good campaign, and we'll see where the chips fall."

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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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