2 Cleveland City Council Incumbents Lose And 3 New Members Fill Open Seats!



IdeastreamPublicMedia.org, By Lisa Ryan, Posted November 8th 2021

Cleveland voters chose some familiar names to represent the city’s 17 wards. Incumbents won in 12 wards, while two newcomers beat out incumbents in Wards 5 and 12. 

Three wards with open seats will see new representation as well.

In Ward 7 encompassing Asiatown and Hough on Cleveland’s East Side, State Rep. Stephanie Howse defeated lawyer TJ Dow, filling the seat left vacant when Councilman Basheer Jones chose to run for mayor rather than seek reelection. Both Howse and Dow had previously represented Ward 7.

Howse had been appointed to the position in 2008 after the death of longtime Councilwoman Fannie Lewis. Dow won the seat from Howse and served as councilman for nearly a decade, until he lost to Jones.  

“But 13 years later, Ward 7 showed up,” Howse said. 

She was elected to the state legislature after losing the council seat in 2009.

“The Statehouse has been an education and an experience like no other, and so now I am better prepared to work on policy to improve people’s quality of life,” she said. 

In Ward 13, Kris Harsh beat Kate Warren for City Council President Kevin Kelley’s seat. Kelley gave up his position to run for mayor, and lost to Justin Bibb in the general election Tuesday. 

The ward did not have a primary because there were only two candidates, which Warren said made it a challenge to gauge how the race would go.

“We didn’t have sort of a yard stick to see how our campaign was going to turn out,” she said. “At the end of the day, I think my opponent and I had a different campaigning style, and I think he had a good ground game.”

Harsh is the housing director at the nonprofit Metro West Community Development Organization, and Warren is a research fellow at the think tank Center for Community Solutions. She took a leave of absence for the campaign, and she said she will take a little bit more time before going back. 

Warren said she hoped to have influenced the conversation around the election. 

“I think my campaign impacted a lot of people in our neighborhood. I think we had some amazing conversations with folks in our neighborhood and were able to dream bigger about what city government is able to accomplish for people,” she said. 

In Ward 4, precinct committeewoman Deborah Gray beat Cleveland Public Library employee Erick Walker. 

The seat in the Buckeye neighborhood was left open when a panel suspended former Councilman Ken Johnson after he was indicted on corruption charges. He was later convicted in federal court and sentenced to six years in prison. A judge picked Marion Anita Gardner to represent the ward, but she said at the outset she would not run for the seat. 


Two incumbents lose their seats

In Ward 5, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio Director Richard Starr will represent Cleveland’s Central neighborhood after defeating incumbent Delores Gray. She was appointed in May to fill former Councilmember Phyllis Cleveland’s seat.

In the primary, Gray led Starr by just 30 votes, but at the end of Tuesday night, he led by 177 votes, according to unofficial results.

It was a tight race on Cleveland’s south side in Ward 12, where challenger Rebecca Maurer narrowly beat incumbent Tony Brancatelli.

Brancatelli had been a member of City Council since 2005. Maurer is a lawyer who has focused her career on housing law and advocacy. 

He lost by fewer than 100 votes in the unofficial vote totals. 

Here’s who will represent your ward:

Ward 1

Incumbent Councilmember Joe Jones beat Kimberly Brown 

Ward 2

Incumbent Councilmember Kevin Bishop beat Monique Moore

Ward 3

Incumbent Councilmember Kerry McCormack beat Ayat Amin, an environmentalist and marketing specialist. 

Ward 4

Precinct committeemember Deborah Gray beat Cleveland Public Library employee Erick Walker to fill the seat of former Councilman Ken Johnson. 

Ward 5

Richard Starr, director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio, will take incumbent Delores Gray’s seat. She’s been in the position since May, when she was appointed to fill Councilmember Phyllis Cleveland’s position after she stepped down for health reasons. 

Ward 6

Incumbent Blaine Griffin won in an uncontested race. 

Ward 7

State Rep. Stephanie Howse beat lawyer TJ Dow to take back the seat she once held.  

Ward 8

Incumbent Councilmember Mike Polensek beat Aisia Jones, a Black Lives Matter activist.

Ward 9

Incumbent Councilmember Kevin Conwell didn’t face a challenger. 

Ward 10

Incumbent Councilmember Anthony Hairston was unopposed. 

Ward 11

Incumbent Councilmember Brian Mooney beat challenger Michael Hardy.

Ward 12

Attorney and activist Rebecca Maurer narrowly defeated incumbent Councilmember Tony Brancatelli.

Ward 13

Kris Harsh won against Kate Warren, filling the seat of exiting Councilman Kevin Kelley.

Ward 14

Incumbent Jasmin Santana won against Nelson Cintron Jr. 

Ward 15

Incumbent Jenny Spencer beat challenger Chris Murray. Spencer was nominated to the position by longtime Councilman Matt Zone, who left in September 2020 after serving on council for nearly 20 years. 

Ward 16

Incumbent Brian Kazy won the uncontested race. 

Ward 17

Incumbent Charles J. Slife beat Mary Kathleen O’Malley, a sales executive