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Monday, May 24, 2021

Eighteen Apply for Ken Johnson Seat, Judge Expects to Make Appointment Within Two Weeks

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2021 at 2:28 PM

click to enlarge Ken Johnson, 37 years on Cleveland city council. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL
  • Photo courtesy of Cleveland City Council
  • Ken Johnson, 37 years on Cleveland city council.

By Friday's deadline, 18 residents of Cleveland's Ward 4 submitted applications to complete the remainder of Cleveland City Councilman Ken Johnson's term.

The Cleveland Probate Court had been accepting applications since April 22, after Johnson was officially suspended by a panel of retired justices appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court. Johnson was arrested on corruption charges in February. The panel determined that Johnson's charges related to his official role and that the public would be adversely affected were he to continue serving as councilman.

The Probate Court's Presiding Judge, Anthony J. Russo, will make a decision based on interviews with the applicants. The court's magistrate, Jennifer Alexander, told Scene that Russo hopes to make a decision within the next two weeks.

"Judge Russo has found the process to be quite interesting," Alexander wrote in an emailed statement. "Many qualified candidates with a strong commitment to the ward have applied."

Of the 18 applicants, nine have also pulled petitions at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, signaling their intention to run for a full four-year term.

Lashorn Caldwell, James Gay, Craig Willis, Michael Shomo, Cecil Ekechukwu, Rowland Mitchell, Antoine Tolbert, Deborah Gray and Daniel Sexton are those who have pulled petitions. (Deborah Gray is the twin sister of Delores Gray, who was just appointed to replace Phyllis Cleveland in Ward 5.)

Currently, 17 people — including Ken Johnson himself — have pulled petitions to run in the Ward 4 city council race, which has more candidates than any other ward in the city. Johnson, who is still getting paid his $87,000 per year salary while suspended, intends to appeal his suspension. 

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