Here's Who Prevailed in Cleveland City Council Primaries; Future Looks Bleak

click to enlarge Cleveland City Council on a neighborhood tour in June, 2016. - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Cleveland City Council on a neighborhood tour in June, 2016.
The 2017 Cleveland municipal elections are pivotal, in that all 17 city councilpeople must defend their seats at the ballot box. In yesterday's primaries, all but Ward 1 Councilman Terrell Pruitt and Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins were top vote-getters in their respective wards. Several others faced strong opposition and are by no means guaranteed re-election in November.

Both Zack Reed (Ward 2), who will face Mayor Frank Jackson in the mayoral runoff, and Jeff Johnson (Ward 10) who came in third place in the mayoral contest, will be vacating their seats. That means at least two new faces will be on City Council beginning in January.

Here's how the November runoffs will look, based on yesterday's unofficial vote totals. (Incumbents in bold).

1) Joe Jones (1,397 votes, 44.3 percent)
2) Terrell Pruitt (1,139, 36.1 percent)

WARD 2: (Zack Reed's Ward)
1) Kevin L. Bishop (550, 24.5 percent)
2) Geoff A. Fitch (374, 16.7 percent)

1) Ken Johnson (1,149, 48.1 percent)
2) Gail Sparks (543, 22.7 percent)

1) Phyllis Cleveland (604, 53.0 percent)
2) Richard Starr (469, 41.2 percent)

1) Blaine Griffin (1,167, 61.0 percent)
2) Joshua Perkins McHamm (268, 14.0 percent)

1) T.J. Dow (755, 40.9 percent)
2) Basheer Jones (699, 37.9 percent)

1) Kevin Conwell (1,615, 80.3 percent)
2) Anthony Body (189, 9.4 percent)

WARD 10: (Jeff Johnson's Ward)
1) Anthony Hairston (891, 45.9 percent)
2) Eugene Miller (454, 23.4 percent)

WARD 13:
1) Kevin Kelley (1,480, 70.9 percent)
2) Michele Burk (307, 14.7 percent)

WARD 14:
1) Jasmin Santana (383, 34.9 percent)
2) Brian Cummins (362, 33.0 percent)

WARD 17:
1) Martin Keane (2,480, 74.9 percent)
2) John F. Kelly (593, 17.9 percent)

  • Incumbents Kerry McCormack (W3); Mike Polensek (W8); Dona Brady (W11); Anthony Brancatelli (W12); Matt Zone (W15); and Brian Kazy (W16) face only one challenger. They'll go up against them in the November generals.
  • Cleveland has notoriously poor female representation on City Council. After the departure of Mamie Mitchell earlier this year, only two women remained: Phyllis Cleveland and Dona Brady. Cleveland faces stiff competition in Richard Starr, the director of the Boys and Girls Club. Four other women will appear on the November ballot: Gail Sparks in Ward 4; Michele Burk in Ward 13; Jasmin Santana in Ward 14 and Ellen Cleary in Ward 16. Only Santana stands much of a chance. A 17-member council with only one woman remains a grim possibility.
  • The most vulnerable candidates are Terrell Pruitt, T.J. Dow and Brian Cummins.
  • Jeff Johnson, Zack Reed and Brian Cummins have traditionally been the most vocal, dissident voices on council. Notwithstanding Cummins' flip-flop on the Q Deal, he has long been a crusader for transparency and caution, and he actually prepares questions for council presenters — a novelty! If he goes down, and Jackson defeats Reed, one shudders to think of council's uselessness.
  • Former Marty Sweeney squire Eugene Miller has re-materialized. He'll square off against County Councilman Anthony Hairston to claim Jeff Johnson's seat. (Hairston has been pre-ordained for months.)

*Update: We originally did not include Ellen Cleary in our list of women who will appear on the November ballot. Cleary will be facing Brian Kazy in Ward 16.

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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