Mayor Annette Blackwell Takes on Challenge: Third Black Woman to Run for Cuyahoga County Executive. Can She Win?

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Cuyahoga County - Located in the northeastern part of the United States of the State of Ohio, Cuyahoga County has a population of appropriately 1,264,814 persons. This is according to the United States 2020 census. Cuyahoga County is comprised of 38 cities and 19 villages. Because of its population, Cuyahoga County is the second-largest county in the State of Ohio. The racial make-up in the county is 69% white and 28% black. The female population is approximately 51%. As we examine the percentile, we must be critical of both voters and non-voters. Will race and sex matter in the upcoming battle for the next Cuyahoga County Executive Race?

Can a Black Woman Win?

Terri Hamilton-Brown was the first Black woman to run for the newly structured-reorganized county government. If Brown had been successful, she would have been the first Black Woman as well as the First Black Chief Executive of Cuyahoga County. Brown had never run for political office.

In 2010, Terri Hamilton-Brown made a bid to run for the first Cuyahoga County Chief Executive. Brown told Scott Shaw of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “I have high standards, and I can be demanding.” Brown was known for her tough management style.

Brown is educated, no-nonsense, result-driven, and highly respected. Her reputation “to get things done” was enough to satisfy some economic development clean-up jobs. Under Mayor Michael R. White, Brown was known for helping to build approximately 2500 new homes while employed. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Brown

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Mayor Annette M Blackwell, Maple HeightsMayor Annette Blackwell

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Terri Hamilton-BrownCleveland.com

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Senator Shirley SmithCleveland.com

was instrumental with the Mill Creek development on the city southeast side of Cleveland as well as Beacon Place at Church Square at East 79th Street and Euclid Avenue. Brown had also worked for Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority as the CEO following the corruption case of Claire Freeman as well as lead University Circle INC in 2003.

Brown’s resume to lead was clear. Yet, it still was not enough. Terri-Hamilton Brown was unsuccessful.

Can a Black Woman Win?

In 2014, State Senator Shirley Smith cast a bid for Cuyahoga County Chief Executive. Smith was the second educated, experienced and no-nonsense Black Woman to make an attempt. She received her A.A. from Cuyahoga Community College and her B.A. from Cleveland State University in 1986. Smith attended the Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University. Smith told Andrew Tobias in 2014 of the Cleveland Plain Dealer “I am in this race to win.” Former Senator Smith served as a Representative in the Ohio House as well as the Senate from 2006 to 2014.

Can a Black Woman Win?

On November 16, 2021, the current Cuyahoga County Chief Executive Armond Budish reported that he would not seek re-election. Having made the decision not to run, this seat is an open seat. One thing is for certain, Cuyahoga County will be getting a new leader just as the City of Cleveland. Thus far, three candidates have emerged: Lee Weingart, Chris Ronayne, and Annette M. Blackwell. Rumors are flying. Some people are chattering over the water-cooler expecting former Cleveland Council President Kevin Kelly, former State Senator Nina Turner, and Peter Corrigan to join the County Executive race. Be that as it may, for now, Mayor Annette M. Blackwell has informally announced her candidacy. Blackwell will be the third black woman to attempt to become the Chief Executive.

Annette Blackwell is the Mayor of Maple Heights. Blackwell, an unknown took the city and political pundits by surprise in 2015/16 when she defeated Maple Heights Councilman Bill Brownlee. She was sworn-in office in 2016. According to many newspaper outlets, community leaders, and residents, Blackwell was never supposed to win but she did. Blackwell became the first Black and first woman to lead the city of Maple Heights following 100 years of white male dominance. Maple Heights population is approximately 24,000.

Blackwell is a business professional. She has been employed with KeyBank, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Deloitte, and Ryan International Tax Services. She is also a graduate of Ursuline College. She is a board member of Cuyahoga County Citizens’ Advisory for Equity, Cuyahoga County Community College for Community Access, Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association, Cuyahoga County Council Community Reinvestment Sub-Committee, RITA, and others.

Blackwell like the others is well engaged, educated, determined, and result-driven. In 2019, after 12 years of being in a fiscal emergency that was leftover by the previous administration, Blackwell and her team were able to recover. Due to her leadership, Maple Heights no longer carry this burden.

As Mayor of Maple Heights, Blackwell is the only woman and woman of color elected official thus far who is seeking the County Chief Executive position. As the region will closely watch who will become a candidate in this race, we will watch who can actually win this race.

As of today, Annette Blackwell, Mayor of Maple Heights has yet to give a formal announcement date. We contacted Mayor Blackwell, we are waiting for a response.

This story will be updated at a later time.

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"Brown On Cleveland" features podcast host, licensed social worker, and social justice activist Kimberly F. Brown. Former talk show host with WOVU.95fm. Brown is the Chief Administrator of The Brown Report Newspaper. Brown experience is with investigative reporting.

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