New (elected) sheriff in town?

A formal campaign launched last week to try to convince Cuyahoga County elected officials and the public to return to the days of having an elected sheriff. Following a county public corruption scandal more than a decade ago, voters backed a new form of government that eliminated many elected positions, including sheriff. Since 2010, the county sheriff has been picked by the county executive. But the sheriff’s job has been a revolving door: nine people have held the job, and many of them have walked away. 

Now, a group calling itself the Northeast Ohio Public Safety Foundation wants to pressure County Council to put the issue of returning to an elected sheriff before voters. A majority of council opposes the idea, which will force the group to collect voter signatures to initiate a county charter amendment. Paperwork from the Secretary of State’s office shows the group formed last fall around the time some elected officials began talking about returning to an elected sheriff. The group will need about 42,000 valid voter signatures by Sept. 8 to make the November ballot, said its leader, Jonathon Petrea, a political and public policy consultant.

Fronting the group is the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association and Laborers Local 860, which represents sheriff’s deputies. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor O’Malley, who backed the effort to create an appointed sheriff, has since changed course and has been speaking publicly about returning to an elected sheriff. In recent months, O’Malley has been talking about the idea at political events and voter meetings.

Calling for calm streets

The Greater Cleveland United Pastors in Mission at Antioch Baptist Church on July 17, 2023. The group was speaking out about the city's uptick in street violence. Rev. C. Jay Matthews of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.
The Greater Cleveland United Pastors in Mission at Antioch Baptist Church on July 17, 2023. The group was speaking out about the city’s uptick in street violence. Rev. C. Jay Matthews of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. Credit: Mark Naymik/Signal Cleveland

A coalition of Greater Cleveland pastors held a news conference this week to talk about combating violence on the streets. While the pastors said they are willing to do their part and engage residents, they staged the event to add pressure to Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Council President Blaine Griffin to do more.

The pastors didn’t criticize either side of City Hall. They didn’t need to since the mayor and council have done just fine in recent weeks calling each other out.

Council and the administration were represented at the event. Seated in opposite pews at Antioch Baptist Church were Griffin and Angela Shute-Woodson, who leads the city’s Community Relations Board, which acts as the city’s eyes and ears in the neighborhoods and plays an important role in connecting with residents caught up in violence. (Griffin held the job during former Mayor Frank Jackson’s tenure.) Both Griffin and Shute-Woodson know the pastors well and recognized the importance of being present. 

In another pew was a person few people know: Matthew Ahn, a former public defender and a visiting law professor at Cleveland State University who is preparing to run for Cuyahoga County prosecutor. Ahn, a Democrat and Cleveland native, has been popping up at all kinds of events. He is expected to soon announce his formal bid for the 2024 seat. At the moment, it’s a quixotic campaign against the entrenched Democratic incumbent Michael O’Malley, but Ahn said he’s ready for the long journey ahead.

Tri-C upping visibility

Cuyahoga Community College dropped nearly $10,000 to package 13,000 copies of its in-house publication—”The Tri-C Times“—with recent-subscriber summer editions of Cleveland Magazine. That’s according to public records reviewed by Signal Cleveland. College officials called the bundling a “turn-key solution,” saying the costs would be roughly the same if they mailed out the “Times” themselves.

What’s perhaps more noteworthy than the money spent, though, is how officials described the halo effect of getting the college’s magazine directly into the hands of Cleveland Magazine’s subscribers. The college called that group an “audience of individuals and businesses with a demonstrated interest in community-related news, education, stories and events.”

Upping the college’s visibility and boosting fundraising approaches are two of Tri-C President Michael Baston’s stated goals for the next few years.

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Managing Editor, News (he/him)
Mark is a veteran journalist with experience in alternative media, print, digital and television news. For 19 years, he was a groundbreaking reporter and metro columnist with The Plain Dealer and Most recently, Mark spent three years as an investigative, enterprise and breaking news reporter at WKYC-TV, where his "Leading the Land" series on Cleveland's 2021 mayoral primary race earned a regional Emmy.