Armond D. Budish, a former speaker of the Ohio House and term-limited state representative, has attracted a great deal of ire from his five Democratic challengers in the May 6 primary for Cuyahoga County executive.
Despite their attacks, Budish, 60, is the best candidate in the Democratic primary. He understands the county’s continuing economic challenges and says he is committed to more transparency and accountability in county government.
The primary winner will face Republican County Councilman Jack Schron in November.
State Sen. Shirley Smith, 63; former county Sheriff Bob Reid, 62; former North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O’ Grady, 59; political consultant Timothy J. Russo, 46; and artist Walter Allen Rogers Jr., 72, have far more to say about Budish than they do about themselves.
A number of them accuse Budish, who has been endorsed by outgoing County Executive Ed FitzGerald, of snapping up Democratic endorsements because of his big campaign war chest. They would have a bigger point if Budish didn’t have the experience and vision to lead Ohio’s largest county.
As speaker of the Ohio House, Budish was a key supporter of the Cleveland schools’ reform plan, whose success is critical to the region.
He also recognizes it’s a pivotal time for Cuyahoga County to build on strengths in health care and the lakefront location to attract jobs.
Budish is not without flaws. He should immediately end his association with his televised Sunday infomercial for the elderly, “Golden Opportunities,” which has an annual $100,000 advertising contract with MetroHealth, the hospital system subsidized by the county. Budish, who says he does not personally benefit from the program, has said only that he would step aside if elected.
Budish also needs to shed the aggrieved look. The county’s top dog can’t turn peevish whenever criticism arises.
Nonetheless, Budish has the skills, contacts and energy to serve well. Early voting has begun.