CLEVELAND -- A convicted sex offender is running for office, hoping to help promote Ohio City.
Marques Manus, 34, is one of 12 candidates running for a board of trustees seat on the non-profit group, Ohio City, Inc.
The top four finishers will serve.
“I’m trying to work for my neighbors and my neighborhood,” Manus said. “I’m not trying to be a threat to anyone.”
Manus said he is in therapy and taking medication to treat his bi-polar condition, which he blames for his sexual offenses dating back to 2003.
“I had some warped thinking,” he said. “I had some thoughts before that were way off. Way off. But I have been reformed. I know you hear that a lot from people in my situation. But it’s true.”
The neighborhood development group receives about $1 million a year in grants to help promote Ohio City, one of Cleveland’s most exclusive neighborhoods.
Manus is a relative newcomer to Ohio City. In fact, he has yet to update his Franklin Boulevard address with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff, where he must register at a Tier III sex offender.
Mary Rose Oakar, a lifelong Ohio City resident and officeholder, said she’s troubled by Manus’ candidacy. But she’s also troubled by his apartment’s proximity to several schools around West 38th Street and Franklin Boulevard.
“I’m sorry, [but] we need to do something about this,” Oakar said.
Manus' sexual deviance began more than a decade ago when he was convicted of abduction and gross sexual imposition in 2003. Subsequent sex offenses followed in 2007, 2009 and 2012.
"We have 199 sexual predators within two miles. We have nine who live right around schools," Oakar said. “I think the board should have some responsibility there.”
Ohio City Inc. board secretary Chris Schmitt talked to Manus but said there's nothing in the organization bylaws preventing the sexual predator from campaigning.
“I made him aware that, if he chose to pursue this seat on the board, that there might be people who question his background and his fit for the board," Schmitt said.
Manus acknowledged that his criminal record may harm his chances.
“It’s going to make it tough,” he said.
The election is May 3. Schmitt said about 500 Ohio City Inc. members will be voting.
"At the end of the day, [Manus] will be one the ballot, but there's no guarantee he'll be elected to the board and I doubt he will," he said.