Stretching from Cleveland to Akron, Ohio’s 11th Congressional District recently had a heated Special Primary Election, although voter turnout remained low. Nevertheless, Shontel Brown, endorsed by the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council (CBCTC), won the Democratic nomination with 50.18 percent of the vote, beating out Nina Turner, who won 44.52 percent of the vote, and multiple other candidates.
Dave Wondolowski, Executive Secretary of the CBCTC, joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the election, as well as the upcoming Cleveland mayor’s race.
A win for working families
Though it was a heated election, Wondolowski was glad the candidate endorsed by the building trades won. While he respected the top two candidates and acknowledged Turner has done a lot for unions, her message failed to resonate with voters, especially building trades members, Wondolowski said.
In the end, working families needed somebody who was willing to go to Washington to work with President Biden, Wondolowski said. As a more centrist candidate, Brown was better positioned to do so, he added.
Wondolowski is proud the building trades were among the first organizations to endorse Brown’s candidacy. She is expected to win the November General Election, as the 11th District leans heavily Democratic.
Cleveland mayor’s race heats up
Wondolowski also discussed the upcoming Cleveland mayoral race, where the CBCTC endorsed current Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley. Besides Kelley, the race includes former Cleveland Mayor and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Justin Bibb, Ross DiBello, Basheer Jones, Zack Reed and Sandra Williams.
The Cleveland Building Trades have many friends in the race, but Kelley stands heads and shoulders above the rest, Wondolowski said. Kelley understands economic development and the impact it has on Cleveland as a whole.
Wondolowski acknowledged Kucinich is currently the frontrunner in the race, but he said the last thing people need is a sideshow at City Hall. People need to understand that experience matters — not experience bankrupting the City of Cleveland as Kucinich did as Cleveland Mayor in the ‘70s — but in expanding its economic growth as Kelley has done, Wondolowski argued.
Low voter turnout disappoints
Wondolowski, who also sits on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, also spoke about the low 10 percent turnout in the 11th Congressional District Special Primary Election. He expects a 20 percent turnout for the Sept. 14 Mayoral Primary Election.
Considering how many names are on the ballot, Wondolowski thinks turnout should be higher. He encouraged all union members to vote. If people do not protect and use their right to vote, more voter suppression bills will emerge in this country in an attempt to silence the voice of the people, Wondolowski stated.