Ken Trump, a 25-year resident of the west side neighborhood, announced his candidacy
for Cleveland City Council in Ward 17 Wednesday, with a platform focused chiefly on public safety.
Trump, 57, worked for years in the Safety Division of CMSD, supervising the district's Youth Gang Unit. He went on to advise legislatures and governors across the country on youth violence policy. In press materials Wednesday, he said Cleveland needs a better plan for responding to crime.
"Cleveland is stagnant, and many would say moving backwards, with no articulated plan for reducing its extremely high homicide rate," said Trump, in a prepared statement. "There is no plan for meaningful action to deal with the disconnect between written police pursuit policy and actual practice, so violent criminals are flipping off gang signs at police and fleeing the scene to commit violent crimes elsewhere, knowing that our police will not even attempt to stop them. Community policing is a buzz-phrase with no clear systemic and systematic implementation. If we do not have safer neighborhoods and safer business districts, this city and its wards will never attract and retain new residents and businesses as it has the potential to do."
Trump said that his extensive experience in the fields of public policy and public safety would bring much needed perspective to City Hall, especially as council reckons with crime in the fallout of the pandemic. He said that a recent spate of car jackings, coupled with current councilman Charles Slife's "hesitancy to talk transparently about violent crime" inspired his run.
A registered Republican, Trump told Scene that he trusted the intelligence of Ward 17 voters, and he expects to earn their votes based on his ideas, not based on knee-jerk reactions to his last name. He clarified to Scene, for the record, that he has no relation to the former president.
"Our family genealogy research traced my father's name back to the Dutch and there are no former presidents in the family tree," he wrote in an email. "No millionaires either!"
Trump said that in his view, city races were essentially non-partisan anyway. And he said that he was finding support in the ward, while gathering signatures, from many progressive residents. That may be in part, he suggested, to his strong support for good government reforms. Like other candidates across Cleveland, Trump wants to increase accountability and transparency on city council by allowing public comment at meetings and by ending the tradition whereby council members appoint their own heirs.
"Out of four city councilmen during [my family's] time here, we have never
had one city councilman who has not first been appointed by his predecessor before being elected," Trump said. "Many residents, including me, are fed up with having a chosen few select, rather than elect, our city council representative."
In addition to public safety issues, Trump said he wants to concentrate on securing for Ward 17 a fairer share of city resources and advocating for increased economic development across the ward.
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More Trump signs may be coming to West Park.