Jan 5, 2024 - News

Pointy View: The Upchurch upshot

Illustration of pointed focus lines coming out of a stylized pair of eyes.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Here's the latest in local political happenings.

🗳️ Democratic State Rep. Terrence Upchurch will seek re-election as a write-in candidate in the March primaries after failing to submit enough valid signatures with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

What happened: Upchurch had to submit just 50 signatures, but he told Axios he'd been dealing with an ailing relative and that, given the new district boundaries, some signatures he collected last minute were from people no longer living within District 20.

  • He withdrew his candidacy on Dec. 27 and immediately re-filed as a write-in candidate.

What they're saying: "I'm confident I'll put together a solid campaign, and I fully believe the residents of District 20 will re-elect me," he said.

  • "I refuse to let the state's most Democratic district fall into the hands of a Republican."

Between the lines: District 20 includes most of Cleveland's near west and northeast sides.

The bottom line: Assuming no one else files by Monday and Upchurch gets more than 50 people to write his name down in March, he will face Republican opponent Donna Walker-Brown in November.

🇵🇸 Pro-Palestinian demonstrators will return to Cleveland City Hall on Monday evening, renewing calls for a ceasefire resolution they made every week through the fall.

What they're saying: More than 80 area organizations and businesses signed an open letter this week to City Council.

  • It urged council to follow the lead of Akron and other cities, passing a resolution that "explicitly calls for a ceasefire, condemns the genocide in Gaza and condemns rising anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, Islamophobic and anti-Jewish attacks."

⚖️ The Ohio Supreme Court has booted brazenly politically incorrect Judge Daniel Gaul from the Cuyahoga County common pleas bench and suspended him from practicing law for one year.

  • In addition to his courtroom rhetoric — he often referred to Black male defendants as "brother" — 70-year-old Gaul was notorious for including unconstitutional provisions in his sentences, like a requirement that defendants bear no children out of wedlock as a condition of probation.

What they're saying: "Rather than promoting confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary," the decision read, "Gaul's conduct has called those essential elements of our justice system into question while harming multiple litigants."

Between the lines: Gaul's current term would have lasted through the end of 2024, after which he would have been ineligible to seek re-election due to the state's judicial age limit (70).

Flashback: Many county residents were introduced to Gaul for the first time on the "Serial" podcast. An entire episode in its third season was dedicated to his courtroom behavior.

  • Host Sarah Koenig described Gaul as "nothing less than a raging slave master."

💃 Women lead all three branches of government in Lakewood following the City Council election of Sarah Kepple as its president.

  • Kepple joins Mayor Meghan George and Judge Tess Neff in top governance positions.

By the numbers: Kepple is only the third woman elected council president since the body was formed in 1911.

The bottom line: Lakewood now becomes the largest city in Ohio with women occupying its top leadership positions in all three branches.

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