City Council Caucus Meeting [IN PERSON ONLY]

Cleveland City Council

Monday, May 23, 2022
12:00 p.m. — 2:00 p.m. EDT

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601 Lakeside Ave Cleveland, OH 44114 (Directions)

Cleveland City Hall - Mercedes Cotner Meeting Room 217

Cleveland City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Cleveland in Ohio. There are 17 elected Cleveland City Council members representing the 17 wards of the City of Cleveland. Each ward has approximately 25,000 residents. Council Members are elected to serve a four-year term. Council members serve two roles in their duties: to draft and enact legislation for the city of Cleveland and act as ombudspersons for their constituents.

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Edited and summarized by the Cleveland - OH Documenters Team

Note-taking by Emma Sedlak

Ohio Democratic Party chair, council members discuss strengthening the party

Live reporting by Keith Yurgionas

Ohio Democratic Party chair, council members discuss strengthening the party

Keith @DocumenterK
Hi, I'm Keith & on May 23, 2022, I will be live-tweeting Cleveland City Council's City Caucus Meeting on behalf of @cledocumenters and @NeighborUpCle.

The meeting will be live at 12:00PM.

11:08 AM May 23, 2022 CDT

Keith @DocumenterK 2/52
This is an in-person meeting and is not live-streamed by the City.

But have no worries, we use the tools we have, here's a live-stream from my phone:…
Keith @DocumenterK 3/52
Public Notice of the Caucus Meeting was created 3 days on May 20, 2022.…
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Cleveland City Council's Caucus Meeting Agenda for May 23, 2022…
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As noted in the Public Notice, there will be special guest appearance by Liz Walters, the Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party

About Liz: https//…
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Council President & Ward 6 Council Member Blaine Griffin is calling people to their seats.
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One difference about being in-person is that you can smell the food Council and guests are munching on.

Sandwiches, salad, potatoes chips, and pepsi.
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Griffin has called the meeting to order and he is introducing the guest Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters, she will be talking how the Democratic Party can work with Cleveland City Council.

Griffin notes that he spoke to attorneys and they are in the clear for the meeting.
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Council Members are introducing themselves for the guest and their respective wards.…
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Liz Walters is now introducing herself to Council.

"We hope today is the beginning of a reciprocal relationship."
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After introducing several people

Trenton Butler…

William Washington
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OH DEM Chair Walters is talking about building power for Democrats in Ohio.

"We stripped it down to the bones and rebuilt our financial and data operations. We use electoral data and for the first time we used nonelectoral data."
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Chair Walters shares two maps on the screen, a 2006 map of Sherrod Brown's election and a 2018 map.

She shared another image of a map that reflects Aging In Ohio,

"The 13 dark blue counties had more people over the age 65 than children under the age 18 in 2018."
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Chair Walters shares two Ohio County maps about population movements in Ohio.

Counties that people are moving out of and moving into.
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Chair Walters on Cuyahoga County "For 40 years you've been asked to juice up the votes. It can't just be Cleveland's job to deliver the State for all the other ways we have to be successful as Democrats."
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Chair Walters shares another map of Cleveland and its Wards that compares Presidential Candidate Hiliary Clinton's vote tallies versus then presidential Candidate Joe Biden's.
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Essentially, Biden performed worse than Clinton.

"Trump did better in every Ward in Cleveland in 2020 than in 2016."

Chair Walters argues the Republican Party has invested more in marketing & targeting, essentially increased his percentage among demographic categories by 2 - 3%
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Chair Walters shares another County map of Ohio that details the diversity throughout the State, it is no longer limited big cities.

"The fastest growing African-American community is in Fairfield County. ... By 2030 it will outpace others."
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Someone asks "Why?"

Chair Walters states it is due to suburban sprawl.

On Franklin County, the Spanish community has increased 300%.
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After introductions by her team members, Council has the floor for questioning.

W6 CM Griffin thanks Chair Walters for being proactive, instead of reactive. He states Cleveland has high poverty areas and it is hard to ask people to do things for free.
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Chair Walters responds, "We set aside a portion of our budgets in the Fall for organizing in high poverty areas."
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W3 CM Kerry McCormack is happy that Chair Walters was elected because she "fundamentally understands the importance of organizing."

He shared about his past experience organizing for Sherrod Brown & detailed issues with the DEM party's local efforts in organizing.
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Chair Walters describes that they are trying to be partners with grass roots groups instead of taking over them.

W3 CM McCormack, "A sustainable structure is what will save Ohio, not flying in Lebron James."
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W3 CM McCormack argues for Ohio residents to be involved in the decision making process and not somebody who grew up or is from DC.
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W8 CM Michael Polensek opens by giving a historical perspective.

"Ohio was a blue state, now we shifted red. Why have we shifted red? I want to say, I look at my own Ward that was overwhelmingly Democratic. The majority of my constituents today are independents."
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"I believe most people want to be democrats. I believe that in my heart but my folks have left the party. What have they told me? The party has left them. The party has become too left. If you take the African-American ministers, I bet 2/3s voted Republican."
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Polensek continues sharing his criticisms of the Democratic Party from his perceptions based on family members and constituents.

"This liberal crap, this left wing crap is not cutting it anymore. My African-American community is not having it."
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Polensek concludes, "Unless we get back to our base, we are wasting our time."

Chair Walters doesn't respond. Griffin interjects and advocates for several questions before from Council before she responds.
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W17 CM Charles Slife asks if the members of her team that are responsible for organizing Ohio are in fact from Ohio and are currently living her.

Chair Walters responds yes and that it was a required part of the job description when hiring.
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W17 Slife shares that in the past he has generally viewed the party apparatus as having a holier than you attitude.

He requests for a "granular analysis of Cleveland versus the rest of the County."
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W5 CM Richard Starr shares that he would love to work with them to get people out to vote. He is a strong advocate of knocking on doors.

"Collectively, we need boots on the ground. ... If you're trying to wake people up, you've got to provide resources."
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Starr shares that ward 5 has low voter turnout.

He complains about outdated candidates. "It's not about what you did in the back of the day, it's about what you can do for us."
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W1 CM Joe Jones, "One of the things that make Republicans successful is that the Democrats on the local level haven't done a good job."
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W1 CM Jones shares about an attack on City Council to downsize it driven by the Republican Party. He argues that Cleveland City Council is the largest group of democrats at a City level and should be used as a sourcing pool for higher positions.
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W1 CM Jones argues for new messages and better marketing, we have to change with the times.

Jones argues that Biden isn't doing nearly as bad as Polensek state but there is a general failure to correctly market what they sell/have done.
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Jones elaborates that the local structure is broken, the precincts aren't working as they should.

Jones shares many thoughts about the state of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
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Jones suggests that "Democrats in power must provide for the people. If they need policing, give it to them."
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W15 CM Jenny Spencer has the floor and enquires about the hiring positions
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W13 Kris Harsh shares he thinks everything is identity politics. He believes the Democratic Party has done a great job marketing to minorities but is not able to identify with white people.
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Harsh asks two questions:

What is the Democratic Party's change of identify with voters who don't identify with the Democratic Party anymore?

What do you think is our change of capitalizing on the scare of losing Roe v. Wade?
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W7 CM Howse shares that State reps view City officials as being hard to work with.

"If we aren't championing our own people, we will be forever lost. Let's talk about what we are doing here in the City of Cleveland."
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W7 CM Howse advocates for the collective Council Members to do a 17 week, 2 hour tour ward.

She states, "The people that left aren't coming back." And she isn't looking for them to come back either.
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Howse argues the communication teams aren't successful, "just highlight the work. Just tell them."

"When you show up for people, they show up for you. If we don't do a better job, then we will continue to lose the State."
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W1 Jones has a point but is denied by W3 McCormack due to time constraints.
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W4 CM Deborah Gray seconds Howse's comments and shares that the Democratic Chair Position is really important.

"You have to have your heart in that Democratic Center Chair position."
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Chair Walters responds to the questions and comments.

She recommends connecting with the Ohio Democratic Leaders Coalition.

She will add Council to a Senior lists, to have access to talking points.
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Chair Walters applauds Howse for championing our people. "We have to celebrate what we are accomplishing."

On the Ohio Democratic Party purpose, "Our job is infrastructure, to build roads for candidates to coast to a win on."
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In response to standing for certain convictions such as pro-choice, she states the candidates will shape these policies more than the party itself.

OH DEM Chair Walters believes the party must have a "Yes, and" attitude.
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Lynie Powell, a political consultant according to linkedin, was sitting at the Council table, seems well connected, and was given a moment to share some memories about her interactions with City Council members.…
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The Cleveland City Council Caucus meeting has quickly concluded at or around 1:46PM due to the departure of the Ohio Democratic Party Chair and her team.
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Remember to check out recorded notes and live-tweets for other governance meetings. They are posted on the Cleveland Documenter's website, access past meetings here:
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To become involved and for more meeting coverage, check out Have questions? Think we got something wrong? Send any enquiries on the meeting or these tweets to @cledocumenters

Or email us at


Agency Information

Cleveland City Council

Cleveland City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Cleveland in Ohio. There are 17 elected Cleveland City Council members representing the 17 wards of the City of Cleveland. Each ward has approximately 25,000 residents. Council Members are elected to serve a four-year term. Council members serve two roles in their duties: to draft and enact legislation for the city of Cleveland and act as ombudsmen for their constituents.

Find meetings streamed at: *online on TV20 at:

*The meetings are also streamed on YouTube:


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