Sean Ward won’t be on the ballot for East Cleveland mayor just like he was warned

Elections board officials vote unanimously that Ward failed to meet East Cleveland's elector and residency qualifications

CLEVELAND, OH – Two would-be candidates for East Cleveland mayor learned they won’t be on the ballot for either the September 14, 2021 primary election or the November 2, 2021 general election.  Neither of the two men who’d turn in petitions to seek the mayor’s office in East Cleveland met the qualifications of the city’s charter requiring mayoral candidates to be qualified residents and electors two years prior to the election.

The members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections unanimously agreed with activist and East Cleveland Sunrise Co-Publisher Justyn Anderson’s challenges against the mayoral candidacies of Sean Labrett Ward and Teandre Sigler.

Cuyahoga County elections board chairman Jeffrey Hastings (lower left photo) listens to Justyn Anderson deliver evidence that Sean Ward failed to meet the qualifications to seek the mayor’s office as a candidate. Anderson is in the lower right photo standing behind Brent Lawler. The elections board unanimously agreed with Anderson’s requests not to allow the names of Ward and Teandre Sigler to be placed on the ballot for mayor of East Cleveland.

During the June 28, 2021 hearing, Ward told Cuyahoga County Board of Elections members he voted in Richmond Heights on November 5, 2019 and began to relocate to his “family home” at 14620 Alder in East Cleveland on November 7, 2019.  He claims to have relocated to 14620 Alder to live in the tiny ranch style home on November 7, 2019.

Using his own estimated November 7, 2019 move-in date, Ward still missed the requirement that he be a qualified elector and resident two years before either the September 14, 2021 primary election for mayor as well as the November 2, 2021 general election.   Ward characterized his November 7, 2019 move-in date as a prelude to his decision to relocate a few months later in 2020 to 15411 Oakhill Road with a woman he eventually married.  That’s what he told the board.

Sean Ward’s marriage records offer a different story than the one he told the elections board.

Records on file with the Cuyahoga County Probate Court show Ward had already married Kim Chyrmece Jordan on October 27, 2018; and that the couple was living at 624 Dade Lane in a Richmond Heights condominium.  Ward was still registered to vote at 624 Dade Lane in Richmond Heights when he changed his voting address to 15411 Oakhill Road in East Cleveland on May 15, 2020.

Public records and Ward’s story implies that on November 7, 2019 he left the wife he’d just married on October 27, 2018, and with whom he was living with in a Richmond Heights condo; to live without her in a family home in the East Cleveland “hood.”

Ward’s attorney didn’t commit himself to any legal arguments that negated the plain language in East Cleveland’s charter when asked to offer one or more that favored his client by board member Inajo Chappelle Davis.  What he did was let Ward make a statement about his residency that killed his credibility.

Law director Willa Hemmons had written an opinion which supported Anderson’s interpretation of the charter; and Ward’s attorney could offer no law or legal opinion to counter it. Nothing Ward learned during his hearing before the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections was any different than what he’d learned from EJBNEWS.

Sean Ward allegedly left his wife in their Richmond Heights condo a year after they were married to live at 14620 Alder Avenue in East Cleveland.

Ward could have saved the money he wasted for an attorney if he allowed his conduct to be guided by the plain English language in Section 112(A) of East Cleveland’s charter as he would have as mayor.  The same with Sigler.

“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.”

Obeying Section 112(A) of East Cleveland’s charter would have given the nominating committee the opportunity to submit the name of another candidate pursuant to Section 115(f) of East Cleveland’s charter.

Each petition shall name a committee of three authorized electors to represent the signers of such petition. If the elector nominated by such petition shall, for any reason, cease to be a candidate, a majority of such committee shall select an elector to fill such vacancy and shall thereupon make and file with the election authorities prescribed by law a certificate, setting forth the name of the new nominee, the office for which nominated, the name of the person for whom the new nominee is to be substituted and such other information as is required to be given in an original petition for nomination. The certificate so made shall be executed, acknowledged and sworn to by the majority of the committee in the manner prescribed for the original petition for nomination, and shall be filed with the election authorities prescribed by general law at least seventy-six (76) days before the date of election and shall have the same force and effect as an original petition for nominations: and the new nominee shall file his or her acceptance of such candidacy with the election authorities along with said certificate, otherwise his or her name shall not appear on the ballot.

Now that Ward has been acknowledged by the elections board as failing to have met the qualifications of an elector and resident to seek the job of mayor, the nominating committee will have the option of finding another qualifying resident and elector to replace him 76 days before the September 14, 2021 primary election. That day occurs on June 30, 2021.  The same with Sigler’s campaign committee though it could be argued that he’s ineligible to have created one as someone who admitted to being homeless.

Ward just got his first dose of “politics” and how he handles himself after this defeat will play a part in how he’s interacted with by political players who possess more political knowledge, skills, connections and support than him.  Stubborn ways got him off the ballot for mayor.  His attorney didn’t seem too rooted in the state’s election and campaign finance reporting laws. Ward is not completely out of hot water just yet.

What I see in Ward’s future if he doesn’t make the right next move, or if he lets a stubborn ego obstruct his view, is a sledge hammer crushing a gnat.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.

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