"This was not an easy decision," Budish said in the four-minute video, delivered to staffers at county HQ. "In fact, it was a very hard decision. It's the greatest honor of my life to serve as County Executive.
Budish, who has spent most of the past three years mired in scandal, said he made the decision for two reasons: 1) because he respects the limits of public leadership and felt that two terms was the appropriate length of service. "As the first two-term county executive, I want to set the right precedent," he said. And 2) because after 15 years of holding public office, he wanted to "rebalance his priorities" and spend more time with his family while he still can.
The chipper, 68-year-old Budish said that over the next 14 months, he will be more than simply a caretaker executive and plans to announce a number of initiatives as his term wraps up, most of which can be grouped under the business and economic development spheres. "We'll create the most aggressive talent attraction and development program in the nation," he said. "I want to make the next 14 months the most productive in our history."
Budish's decision means that former University Circle Inc. Executive Director Chris Ronayne is now the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2022. Republican Lee Weingart, who announced his candidacy earlier this year, is for now the only competitor from across the aisle.
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As various members of his administration flee the flaming shipwreck of Cuyahoga County government, embattled executive Armond Budish announced via video Tuesday afternoon that he would not be seeking a third term.