CLEVELAND, OH – Sean Ward announced his intent to seek a seat as East Cleveland’s mayor in a video he posted on YouTube from an event he organized outside the city. While I thought his choice of a location outside the city was odd; I chalked up the decision to political naivety.
Ward’s presentation sounded hopeful and I’ve been cynical of the city’s candidates. I visited his social media page and read his news releases. I was impressed that he was in real time offering insights on some of the matters of public concern involving the city.
The only problem I see with Ward’s candidacy is he fails to meet the two year “qualified elector” requirement East Cleveland voters determined they wanted for the mayor and added to the Charter on November 7, 2000.
Section 112(A) of the East Cleveland Charter a mayor must obey and enforce as written reads as follows:
“Qualifications: The mayor shall have been, for at least two (2) consecutive years immediately prior to his election or appointment, a resident and qualified elector of the City East Cleveland. During his or her term, the mayor shall remain a resident and qualified elector of the City and shall carry out his duties on a full-time basis.”
A voter registration report from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections shows Ward changing his address on May 15, 2020 online from 624 Dade Lane in Richmond Heights to 15411 Oakhill Road in East Cleveland, Ohio. The relocation to the home he’s renting from Attorney Darryl Fields and his wife, Helen Forbes-Fields, today makes Ward a current resident and qualified elector of East Cleveland. Unlike “current” Richmond Heights resident Brandon King, Ward actually relocated to the city. For me that’s a brownie point.
To have been qualified to seek the job of mayor in East Cleveland, however, Ward should have voted from a residence in the city as a qualified elector on November 5, 2019 instead of in Richmond Heights.
By May 14, 2022 Ward will meet the “at least two consecutive years immediately prior” requirements to seek the mayor’s job in the next election in November 2025. Should he seek to appear on the ballot for East Cleveland mayor in November 2021, Ward will not meet the “resident and qualified elector” requirements of the Charter “at least two consecutive years immediately prior” to his election.
The use of the word “and” in between the words “resident” and term “qualified elector” means both conditions must be met together. Ward as of today has only been a “qualified elector” since May 15, 2020. That’s nine months today. By November 2021 he’ll have been a resident and qualified elector for 17 months when he needs 24.
East Cleveland politics is “gut bucket dirty.” Going into a campaign in the city, Ward’s name right now is very good as he seeks to compete against the criminal holding office illegally as a Richmond Heights resident. This is the best job Brandon King and the “named in an indictment” bitch who serves as his henchman, Michael Smedley, have ever held. The stealing has been delicious to these thieves and they want to keep their criminal enterprise going. They’ll be pulling out all stops to return.
One of Ward’s landlords served as the city’s law director and she’s good people. He should ask Helen for her advice.
I’ve been hearing about Ward’s residency since his name first surfaced as a potential candidate, so I know his opponents are discussing it. Under this state’s “Home Rule” authorizations pursuant to Article 18.7 of the Constitution of Ohio, local voters determine how candidates gain ballot access.
In East Cleveland voters want candidates for mayor to reside and vote out of the city for two years or 24 months before an election or an appointment. When presented with these facts, should he proceed to collect and deliver signatures to the board of elections for mayor this year, they’ll have no authority to interpret the charter in Ward’s favor just because his intentions are good. They risk exposure of criminal prosecution for “misconduct” in office and “dereliction of duty” just as a beginning if they do.
I can see him being thrown off the ballot. His effort will be wasted. His supporters will be frustrated. I’d actually like to see him eventually serve. He seems like a solid man. Right now, for mayor, is just not the right time; and there’s no sense in dirtying up a good name this early in the political game. Besides, I have close “Ward” relatives and an interest in not seeing the name dirtied up by the type of smear politics engaged in by King and Smedley.
As there is absolutely no wiggle room in the dates of Ward’s voter registration, online change of address and voting record, he is faced with the decision of doing what he wants or obeying East Cleveland’s charter. Residents of the city have already suffered from elected officials doing what they wanted instead of living within the limits of laws. The office of mayor pursuant to Section 113(A) of East Cleveland’s Charter is as the municipal corporation’s “chief law enforcement officer” or “chief conservator of the peace.”
SECTION 113. POWERS OF THE MAYOR. A. General Powers and Duties: The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the City, responsible for carrying out and fulfilling the intent and purpose of any and all legislation duly passed by the Council. The Mayor shall supervise the administration of all the affairs of the City and the conduct and administration of all departments and divisions thereof, except the Council and as otherwise provided by this Charter, and the Mayor shall have all such powers as are conferred upon Mayors by the laws of the State of Ohio. The Mayor shall be the chief conservator of the peace within the City and shall see that all laws, resolutions, and ordinances are enforced therein.
The “qualified elector” language in East Cleveland’s Charter mirrors, in pertinent part, the language of Article 15.4 of the Constitution of Ohio.
Officers to be qualified electors. §4 No person shall be elected or appointed to any office in this state unless possessed of the qualifications of an elector. (1851, am. 1913, 1953)
There’s a level of knowledge candidates for elected offices should possess prior to becoming a candidate. The easiest place to obtain it is in the governing documents a candidate will swear to uphold and obey in their “oath” prior to entering the office.
The Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution of Ohio. The United States Code. The United States Code of Federal Regulations. The Revised Code of Ohio (Title 7 specifically). The Ohio Administrative Code. I know for a fact that literally every individual who enters an elected office has not read and mastered these “mandatory” governing authorities. It’s why so many are ending up with dirtied names and convictions behind them.
Ward, professionally, speaks the language of IT or “information technology.” What he should take the time to now learn are the federal, state and local laws governing “municipal corporations.”
Qualifications for council require at least one year of being a resident and a qualified elector. What Ward is currently qualified to seek is the at-large seat on city council in 2021. He should.
You start wrong and you end wrong. You start right and you end right. From personal experiences its better to start right than wrong in politics no matter the outcome. You avoid jail.
Ward should also be mindful that any new mayor or member of council in East Cleveland will be walking into ongoing federal and state criminal investigations. There’s no sense in stepping into a job with a bullseye on your back by signalling before you even get a job that you’re willing to disregard a law.