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Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell running for Cuyahoga County Executive

She faces former University Circle Inc. President Chris Ronayne in Democratic primary; Republican Lee Weingart announced months ago

CLEVELAND — Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell has entered the race to replace two-term Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, who announced last month he won’t seek re-election next year.

“Cuyahoga County is at a crossroads, Blackwell said, officially announcing her candidacy on Wednesday. “We are still in the throes of a pandemic; a pandemic that is impacting our entire county. Our next county executive must continue the work on improving life for our residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations. A visionary leader will bring together all county constituents to provide a brighter future for Cuyahoga County. I am that leader.”

Blackwell, who is in her second term as mayor of the inner-ring suburb, will face former University Circle Inc. President Chris Ronayne in the Democratic primary in May. The filing deadline is February 2.

Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Lee Weingart is running for the Republican nomination. He launched his bid in February.

Blackwell told 3News her experience as a mayor has been like a boot camp for dealing with issues facing many communities, such as foreclosure, declining population and shrinking tax base. 

“Certainly, there are many Maple Heights in these 59 communities,” she said. “There is some part of Maple Heights in all of them. “While we are focused on the economic development and big projects [at the county], someone has to be close enough to the people. So, they feel local government is working for them.”

Elected mayor in 2016, Blackwell became the first black mayor in the city’s 100-year history. She inherited a city of 22,000 residents in fiscal emergency because it was carrying $2.7 million in debt and missed a couple of bond loan payments.

Blackwell had planned to make a formal announcement for county executive Wednesday, but her campaign flubbed the plan by launching its campaign website prematurely, which pre-empted her announcement. 

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