Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell has indicated that she will run for Cuyahoga County Executive in 2022. In a letter to voters published on her newly minted campaign website
, Blackwell said that both her political and professional experience have given her the tools to serve.
"All things about the county are local, as it is the office of 59 local communities," she wrote. "I am prepared to come to this office with a personal knowledge of local government in an executive position; the resources and support that cities need from county government and the full understanding of the collaborations, initiatives and partnerships that must be pursued and formalized to keep cities successful.
"Equally important, I believe, is my ability to connect to the people," she continued. "In this role it is imperative to create a belief system that government works in the areas of quality of life, equity and justice, affordable housing, education, poverty, violence, senior care and much more."
Blackwell, a Democrat, was sworn in as mayor of Maple Heights in 2016 after a career in finance that included 16 years at Deloitte and Ryan Global Tax Services. She became both the first woman and first black person to hold the office in Maple Heights, a majority-minority inner-ring suburb of about 24,000 people on Cleveland's southeast side.
Scene profiled Blackwell in 2019
and wrote how, under her leadership, Maple Heights was clawing out of $2.7 million in debt and state-designated fiscal emergency. Blackwell's deliberate winning attitude and creative policy changes, particularly around housing, were helping residents buy homes and build generational wealth. When the Cuyahoga County triennial home appraisals
were released in September of this year, Maple Heights had the highest home valuation increase (29%) in the county.
Blackwell will challenge former University Circle Inc. Executive Director Chris Ronayne in the Democratic primary. And while Ronayne has gathered early momentum this fall, local journalist and columnist Richard Andrews believes that Blackwell could be a "formidable" challenger
"Blackwell has brought order to [Maple Heights's] finances, built relationships with her peers, and brought new jobs and businesses to the community," Andrews wrote in a column this weekend. "Much of her strength is in fiscal analysis, something that is sorely needed as we come to the end of the Budish administration."
As in the Ed FitzGerald vs. Terri Hamilton Brown primary of 2009, Andrews believes that much will depend on the endorsement of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, and the potential involvement of party chair (and current congresswoman) Shontel Brown.
The winning Democrat will then square of against Republican Lee Weingart — or another Republican candidate — to compete for the seat being vacated by Armond Budish.
Members of Blackwell's campaign team were not immediately available for comment.
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