Cleveland City Council’s weekly public comment session got heated as several commenters were warned that their statements ran afoul of council’s rules and some had their microphones cut. Council President Blaine Griffin warned one frequent commenter who made anti-LGBTQ and anti-semitic remarks before cutting her microphone. 

Griffin also ordered that the microphone of another frequent commenter, Chris Martin, be cut after Martin started reciting the names of council members and the donation amounts they received from the Council Leadership Fund. Griffin said the rules set by council for public comment prohibit directly addressing members. Martin protested that he wasn’t impugning members.

Other commenters spoke about legislative issues such as protecting home rule, which allows city governments to make their own laws, and the rules around candidate eligibility in local elections.       

The Public Comment CLE website has all of the week’s comments and transcripts. Register to make a public comment or learn more about the process in our guide to public comment at Cleveland City Council.

Keeping local issues local

Ward 11 resident Randy Cunningham speaks to City Council 9/25/23
Credit: YouTube

Ward 11 resident Randy Cunningham spoke to Cleveland City Council about Senate Bill 158, which would disallow any spending and disbursement of public funds by residents. This would cancel the idea of participatory budgeting and Cleveland’s Issue 38.

Cunningham provided background on other Statehouse attempts to override Cleveland’s home rule. He then asked that council make a public statement and testify in Columbus against Senate Bill 158. 

Home rule in Ohio is dead. Residents and local officials have seen their efforts to control guns, raise wages, to promote renewable energy, and to control the placement of fracking wells and pipelines overruled by the Statehouse preemption.”

Randy Cunningham, Ward 11  

Watch Cunningham’s full comment.  

Election rules and charter changes

Mariah Crenshaw speaks to Cleveland City Council, 9/25/23
Ward 4 resident Mariah Crenshaw Credit: YouTube

Ward 4 resident Mariah Crenshaw shared her concerns with Cleveland City Council about statute violations she says have been committed by people running for county and judicial seats. She said some candidates did not turn in enough signatures, while others do not live or have vested interest in the areas they are running for election in. She asked council to amend the City Charter to be more specific about candidate requirements. Crenshaw was one of two people who filed individual protests to the Board of Elections against six judicial candidates earlier this month.     

They don’t live here. They have no vested interest here. And I refer to them as political carpetbaggers.”

Mariah Crenshaw, Ward 4

Watch Crenshaw’s full comment.

Week-long no-driving challenge

Ward 5 resident Joe Schwarten speaks to Cleveland City Council 9/25/23
Credit: YouTube

Ward 5 resident Joe Schwarten gave public comment representing the public transit activist group Clevelanders for Public Transit and challenged council to take a week-long break from using cars. He said the use of biking, walking and other transportation will help the city achieve its goals in climate change and 15-minute cities.   

 …for those who can drive, you might not know what it’s like to go throughout your whole work week having to walk, having to bike, having to roll down the street.”

Joe Schwarten, Ward 5

Watch Schwarten’s full comment


Gennifer Harding-Gosnell, Freelance Audio Producer(she/her)
Gennifer is a news writer returning to her first love, radio. She holds a MA in Journalism from Kingston University in the UK, and has spent the last couple years as a Cleveland Documenter.