Budish and Schron Face Off Before the Cameras in City Club Debate
Democrat Armond Budish and Republican Jack Schron both seemed to agree on the county executive's No. 1 job: boosting employment in the Cleveland area. Budish proposed a county venture capital fund that would offer small loans to small businesses. Schron, who owns a manufacturing company in Cleveland, spoke of the work he's done with trade schools.
But the two candidates tried to make the case that they came to the job from different backgrounds and with different philosophies. Schron said as a county councilman, he helped clean up government after a massive corruption scandal.
"I spent four years restoring the ethics, being part of the team along with my 11 councilpeople, restoring the ethics in government from a single-party platform," Schron said. "I spent 30 years rebuilding the Collinwood railroad yards, and part of that to rebuild the jobs, to be part of the community."
Budish, an attorney who works with seniors and the former Speaker of the Ohio House, said he has the emotional intelligence to run a county that delivers services to thousands of people.
"The most important skills for county executive is somebody who has the empathy for people," Budish said. "Somebody who understands what people in the community are going through. Who's worked in the community, who's helped families. That's what I do. That's what I've done. And that's what the county executive needs to do."
Asked about reducing Cleveland's high infant mortality rate, Schron said streamlining social services could free up money for care. Budish proposed helping medical students with tuition in exchange for service in the neighborhoods.
Budish criticized Schron's social services approach, which emphasized efficiency.
"That really points up the difference between somebody who views what he does strictly as operating for the bottom line, or operating to help lift people across the county," Budish said.
Budish and Schron offered social service plans that sounded very similar, though -- encouraging case workers to meet with clients in their neighborhoods, and to sign them up for services using iPads.
In an effort to distance himself from Budish, Schron pointed to his experience owning a business. Schron said he was the candidate best equipped to continue county reform, and that voters had a choice between two different people.
"One that brings 30 years of executive responsibility to run that $1.3 billion government," Schron said. "And one that brings no executive experience to this office."
Budish disputed that, saying he's started businesses and that his service as Speaker of the Ohio House amounted to an executive job.
Budish recited a long list of Democratic elected officials who had endorsed him. Schron didn't go through his endorsements, but did mention at least one - by the editorial board of the Plain Dealer.