Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers enters Cuyahoga County executive race
Updated: 3:05 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022
Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers is joining the race to lead Cuyahoga County government.
Sellers kicked off his campaign in a Zoom press conference Wednesday afternoon. He said it would have been “irresponsible” to hold an in-person event during a new spike in coronavirus cases.
Standing 7 feet tall, Sellers was the Chicago Bulls’ first-round draft pick in 1986. He first won election as mayor to the southeast Cleveland suburb of more than 13,000 people in 2011.
That experience as mayor – and before that as the city’s economic development director – formed the foundation of Sellers’ campaign pitch on Wednesday.
“To make good things happen in Warrensville Heights, we changed the game,” he said. “We aimed high. No half-stepping and no settling for mediocrity.”
His top priorities as county executive would be shoring up safety-net services, supporting all of the county’s 59 municipalities and resolving “the jail situation.” For years, county and court officials have been making plans to rebuild or revamp the jail and Justice Center in Downtown Cleveland.
“It’s a development project, but it’s more than building locks, steel,” he said. “It’s more than that. When you have a jail, the people are in your care. And so there’s a responsibility for that, and we have to plan and develop accordingly.”
Sellers enters the race with name recognition that reaches beyond his hometown suburb’s borders. For years, he has provided color commentary for Cleveland Cavaliers games on TV and radio.
Though a small part of the county, Warrensville Heights has proved a Democratic political powerhouse. Former congresswoman and current HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge preceded Sellers as mayor. Sellers is also close with newly elected U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown, a former Warrensville Heights councilwoman.
Former Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed, who was instrumental in Mayor Justin Bibb’s general election campaign, is Sellers’ half-brother.
Sellers faces former University Circle Incorporated leader Chris Ronayne in the Democratic primary this May.
The county party’s executive committee is expected to vote on an endorsement in the race late this month, before the February filing deadline. Sellers described himself as an “avid member” of the county Democratic party and said he’s been introducing and re-introducing himself to its members.
Sellers said he considered his primary opponent a friend, but contrasted his experience with Ronayne’s. As a mayor, Sellers has to “answer the bell 24/7,” he said.
“How I grew up, competition is not a bad thing,” Sellers said. “It only makes you better. It proves who can get it done, and it proves who can’t get it done. It should show that. And it doesn’t have to be adversarial.”
The two men are currently the only Democrats in the running. Maple Heights Mayor Annette Blackwell suspended her campaign for county executive on Tuesday.
Republican former county commissioner Lee Weingart has been building support for his county executive campaign for nearly a year.