Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers Withdraws from County Executive Race

click to enlarge Brad Sellers is running for County Exec. - Screenshot from Sellers presser.
Screenshot from Sellers presser.
Brad Sellers is running for County Exec.

Citing the "distraction" of recent reporting on his personal financial history, Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers announced that he was suspending his campaign for Cuyahoga County Executive Saturday, less than two weeks after he'd announced his candidacy.

"I entered the race for Cuyahoga County Executive on January 5, 2022," Sellers said in a brief statement. "Recent reports have now become a distraction in this race, so today I am announcing I am withdrawing my candidacy for the position of Cuyahoga County Executive."

Authored by cleveland.com's Kaitlin Durbin, the stories in question reported that Sellers had certified a 100% tax abatement on his home in Warrensville Heights in 2018. The suburb's "Good Neighbor" abatement program allows  teachers, law enforcement officials, firefighters, and EMS personnel to receive a full tax abatement for 15 years on their home's value. Sellers argued that as Mayor of Warrensville Heights, he was also the city's safety director and therefore a "law enforcement official," eligible for the full abatement. Other residents are entitled to 75% abatement on newly constructed homes.

The fact that Sellers applied for and certified his own abatement was questionable, Durbin reported, but also improper because of his outstanding tax delinquency. Sellers owed more than $13,000 in back taxes to the County at the time.

Warrensville Heights City Council nevertheless approved Sellers' abatement, and the mayor's annual tax liability fell from more than $5,000 to less than $800. Sellers still defaulted, Durbin reported, which the mayor attributed to an ongoing misunderstanding.  

Though Sellers has now repaid his back taxes and said he has thrown up his hands on previously disputed taxes, the cyclone of reporting by Durbin and others on his "troubled finances" was enough to make him reconsider his bid for the top position in Cuyahoga County.

His departure means that former University Circle Inc. CEO Chris Ronayne now has a much clearer path to a Democratic Party endorsement later this month. Shirley Smith, the former state legislator and perennial candidate, will be running for the seat too, though she has not yet formally launched her campaign. Former County Commissioner Lee Weingart, of Shaker Heights, is running for the seat on the Republican side.

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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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