CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish has confirmed he will not seek a third term in office in 2022.
The 68-year-old Cleveland native made the announcement in a video message Tuesday afternoon. The executive said it was time to "pass the torch to new leadership with fresh ideas" and that he wants to spend more time with his family.
"I've devoted myself to community service for the last 15 years," Budish said. "Now is the right time to re-balance my priorities. ... I want to spend more time with them while I'm still healthy."
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A 1971 graduate of Beachwood High School, Budish served in the Ohio House of Representatives for eight years, including a one-term stint as the state's first Jewish House Speaker from 2009-11. In 2014, he was elected as Cuyahoga County's second chief executive, part of a still-new system of government that came to fruition following the corruption scandal surrounding County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora and others.
"As the first two-term executive, I want to set the right precedent," he said of not wanting to serve more than eight years in the position. "I'm proud of our efforts that have created a solid foundation for growth."
Budish highlighted his administration's efforts to be "fiscally responsible" and "improve the quality of life for those most in need. However, his term has not been without controversy, notably in early 2019 when law enforcement officers raided county headquarters as part of an ongoing investigation. Though several files and hard drives were seized, Budish called the events "a publicity stunt" and has faced no charges in the matter.
Later, Budish was caught up in the county jail scandal that saw multiple officials (including former jail director Ken Mills) either lose their jobs or be criminally convicted. A lawsuit filed by a whistleblower accused Budish of retaliating against those who spoke up about conditions at the facility, but the executive has once again not been charged, and the county has since hired several new officers and is currently planning to build a new jail.
Budish vowed to keep working during his final 14 months in office, teasing new initiatives to attract businesses and develop workforce talent. He also invited candidates for his replacement, "regardless of party affiliation," to reach out and talk to him about the challenges the county faces.
"I love this job, I love this community, and I want to make it as easy as possible for the next executive to build on our many successes," he said.