Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell has suspended her campaign for Cuyahoga County Executive less than one month after she announced she was running
. In a press release Monday, Blackwell noted that she had two years remaining in her mayoral term and wanted to "dedicate her time and energy to continue the growth and progress in her home city."
Blackwell was first elected Mayor of Maple Heights in 2015. She has ushered in a period of population growth and dramatically increased home values. Under her leadership, the inner-ring suburb on Cleveland's southeast side has navigated its way out of state-designated fiscal emergency as well.
"I believe this is only the start of what we can accomplish in Maple Heights," Blackwell said, in the release. "Working with residents, City Council, our dedicated workers, and our businesses, I know we are on the cusp of making this special place a destination location. I’m excited to continue the work.”
In a follow-up conversation Tuesday morning, Blackwell said the decision to suspend her campaign was a difficult one, and was motivated both by personal and professional considerations.
"I had to look at the whole landscape," she said, "and it became harder and harder for me to see a path to victory."
Impacting her decision, surely, was the presumed entry of Warrensville Heights Mayor and former Chicago Bull Brad Sellers into the race. Richard Andrews, at the Real Deal Press, reported from the Warrensville Heights grapevine
that Sellers is likely to announce his candidacy Wednesday.
Blackwell did not say she was pressured to bow out to make way for Sellers, but said she had a number of conversations with prominent members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party that helped her arrive at her decision.
"In the end, the decision was mine," she said. "I understand my huge responsibility as a black woman elected official in this community. I'm a businesswoman, and I had to look at this pragmatically. If this race isn't winnable, how does it help me? How does it help Maple Heights?"
Blackwell said that though she is sorry her departure likely means there will be no woman in the race for County Executive, she affirmed her commitment to Maple Heights and said she looked forward to the next two years building on her momentum since 2015.
If indeed Brad Sellers announces his candidacy, as is expected, he'll be battling former University Circle Inc. Executive Director Chris Ronayne for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party endorsement. That'll happen later this month.
The Democratic winner will then face off against Republican Lee Weingart, who announced his campaign nearly a year ago and has been fundraising hard while campaigning on issues of accountability, transparency and economic opportunity in the urban core.
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