Former Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins Has Accepted Peace Corps Job in Tbilisi, Georgia

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click to enlarge Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins addresses Green Party gathering. - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins addresses Green Party gathering.
Former Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins, who narrowly surrendered his Ward 14 seat to Jasmin Santana in 2017, has accepted a job with the Peace Corps and is decamping to Tbilisi, Georgia, for a 60-month post.

Cummins is hosting a farewell gathering at Market Garden Brewery next week for friends and colleagues. He told Scene by phone that he'll ship off to Washington D.C. for security training later this month and then will travel to Tbilisi, where he'll be one of three permanent Peace Corps staffers overseeing operations in Georgia. Cummins was previously a Peace Corps volunteer and has worked in Moldova for the organization's Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.

Cummins represented various iterations of Ward 14 (Clark-Fulton, Brooklyn Centre, Stockyards) from 2006 until 2017. Every election for Cummins, it seemed, including 2017's, was close and contentious. He was fleetingly a member of the Green Party, but returned to the fold of the local Democrats for pragmatic reasons. (He couldn't get anything done on council without party support.)

Pragmatic reasons, Cummins said, were also what led to his last-minute flip-flop on the Q Deal in 2017. Cummins became the pivotal vote which facilitated the city ordinance's passage as an emergency measure.

Cummins said at the time that while he hated being forced to make the difficult decision, preserving his relationship with Kevin Kelley and Mayor Jackson by voting for the ordinance would pay dividends for his ward.

"I had to think hard and long about this," Cummins said, "but if I'm trying to garner funds from the mayor's administration, competing with 16 other wards, things like this matter. And that's just a non-debatable fact."

Cummins was an important voice on council. He was routinely the most prepared and diligent interrogator of city officials and outside presenters during committee meetings. He was also a voice of reason on the Public Square Issue. At an incendiary meeting after Jackson unilaterally closed Superior Avenue to buses in November, 2016, Cummins reminded the administration that Federal dollars would be in jeopardy and that "any federal transit awards are at risk in the future if we continue to be at breach with the FTA." Cummins was a covert activist with Clevelanders for Public Transit. Of all the councilpeople, Cummins managed to champion the growth of his ward's neighborhoods while also concerning himself with citywide policy.

But the feuds in Ward 14, both petty and substantial, wore on him. He told Scene that ultimately, losing his seat in 2017 was "the best thing that ever happened to [him]." And he didn't mince words when we asked about his take on the Q, more than a year removed.

"God, are we even gonna get a playoff game?" He asked, in reference to the fact that playoff admissions tax revenue until 2023 were included in revenue projections. "I just loathe these sports teams. I'm looking forward to investing my brain in the World Cup. Screw this other shit."  

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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