It Is Official: We Have a New Mayor in University Heights

The Board of Elections has announced the official final vote count.

Between absentee and provisional ballots, an additional 52 votes were counted. Of them, 28 went to the incumbent, and 24 to the challenger. The margin of victory stands at 50 votes.

I again thank all of you who played a part in making this possible. No effort was wasted, everything every volunteer did to win this campaign mattered. It is no small feat to finish ahead of an incumbent who had won five city elections (two for mayor, three for council). It is a testament of your will, the power of good ideas, and the strength of key community leaders who welcomed and championed a change for our city.

The numbers:

          (VOTE FOR)  1
           Michael Dylan Brennan  .  .  .  .  .  .     1,570   50.81
           Susan K. Infeld  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     1,520   49.19
              Over Votes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .         1
             Under Votes .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        61


On Facebook, I published a list of thank you's. I attempted to be comprehensive, but I know I missed a few. For those of you who did not see it, I repost that below:

A year ago I sat up all night watching the election returns. In the wee hours of the morning, I wrote and posted to Facebook: “Now is not the time to despair. It is the time to organize. … There is a way forward. And it starts now.”

That night I resolved to make it my personal mission in 2017 to find a way to make a change for the better wherever and however I could. This led me down the path to running for mayor of University Heights. Even more important than winning was setting a tone for positive civic discourse, something that has been lost in so much of our country. I would have been proud of our campaign no matter the final vote count. And we brought together people from all sides who agreed we needed a better way forward, and that it starts locally.

This was truly a team win, and I won’t ever forget it.

I have some people to thank, a lot of people. Despite an effort to be comprehensive, I’m bound to leave some people out, but you know who you are, and I thank you.

(I'm not going to tag you all...and FB caps tags well below the number of people I want to thank.)

My wife, Gina Ventre, who was the first constituent I had to convince. Gina stepped up to serve in every capacity, from volunteer coordinator to first reader and editor of much of my writing (though not this, my typos here are mine) to any number of things that would fall under the de facto “campaign manager” title. Gina gave up most of her creative time since this summer to do all that, and I promise to give her back that space in 2018. One extra mile deserves another.

My parents, MJB and Kate, and with them my stepmoms, Sara and Marcy. Among the best things they ever gave me was a sense of decency in an indecent world.

Mike Sears, who agreed to be my treasurer the night of the NFL draft. Best pick made in Cleveland that night.

Mark Wiseman, my old friend and colleague who was the first to endorse me on the record when I announced, all after he ruled out his own run at the office. Thanks for not killing me on that golf course in 1999.

Michele Weiss, who was an even tougher sell than my wife. And like Gina, once convinced, was as strong an advocate and supporter as any I could hope to have.

Sue Pardee, who was the first person to ask me, “why don’t you run for mayor?” – after I asked her first. And whose endorsement spoke volumes. Indeed, all six council endorsements did, because it gave people a reason to give a serious look to the campaign of a "political newcomer."

Steve Sims, whose insight is as keen as it is unique as it is valuable, which is to also say, all very much. I wish we didn’t only have two years left to serve together before he terms out on council.

Pam Cameron, who chewed me out when I didn’t pull petitions fast enough for her liking. And was always ready with a little tough love ass-kicking as needed.

John Rach, whose energy, efforts, and enthusiasm, and passion for the issues, and relentless campaigning rounded up votes for both of us that put us both over the top.

Win Weizer, for the keen observations and continuing education. To put it mildly.

To the old friends I called upon for advice early in this process, and who cared enough to offer meaningful helpful feedback and encouragement, including but not limited to Rita K. Drew, Michele Harcourt, Tom Provino, Rachel Houde-Parkin, Sarah West, Rachel Singer, John Kohlstrand, Frank Esposito, and Mike Cook.

Caleb Schuster, the artist behind the video. And the later photos.

Victoria Stanbridge, the artist behind my headshot and early event photos.

Anthony Fossaceca, the artist behind the literature. If it was printed on paper and looked great, that was him.

Aaron Dagres, who travelled furthest for a lit drop, and whose mastery with virtual phone banking set us up to cross the finish line those final cold rainy days when door knocking was out of the question.

Keith Kanner and the firefighters at IAFF Local 974, who came through in many ways, and gave us the numbers to help get the word out throughout the city, one door at a time.

Anita Kazarian (& Dena Goulder), Ari & Marlyn Jaffe, Yehuda & Bari Adler, David & Hadasa Malcmacher, Chaim & Sarah Elias, and Mark (again) and Serena Wiseman for hosting events at their homes.

Brian at The BottleHouse for the birthday party/campaign kickoff venue, and Michael and Barbara at Bar None for the election night watch party venue. And Jeff Heisler and Anne DeChant for the outstanding food at my birthday party.

A few more friends, near and far, old and new, in no particular order, whom I thank: Alison Hibbard, Kristine Bryan, Ella Shurr, Andrew Zupcsan, Giovanna Ventre, Mike Astrab, Robert Rivera, Scott Wachter, Nathan & Abby Kovach, Nancy English, Kevin Patrick Murphy, Tom West, Jim Outman, Barry Edwards, Chris & Laura Calo, Luke Curkowicz, Kevin & Tina Vonhaz, Tom Hren, Bob Perko, Phyllis Sage, Deanna Bremer Fisher, Julia Kious Zabell, Becky Price, Pete & Kay Pucella, Casandra Epps, Max Schaefer, Dan O’Malley, Dave Gallo, Shmuel Kessler, Yitz Frank, Ari Wolf, J.J. Costello, Becky Zeigler, Chris Hudak, Tami Jirousek, Eric Silverman, Melissa Yasinow, Mike Ungar, Jason Stein, Cheryl Stephens, Joe Peeples, Kathleen Anderson, Tom Ligman, Lisa Freebairn-Tarr, Steve Dobscha, Alan Sills, Ryan Honomichl, Sara Miano, Rick Brown, Ketti Finneran, Michoel Bloom, Jason Sonenshein, Mike DiDomenico, Adam DiDomenico, Keith Mundy, Tristan Rader, Jeanette Riffle, Pat Baskin, Randy Witczak, Chad Rapier, Brandon Hope, Michelle Wheadon, Carmen Becker, Lilah Zautner, Ray Noscal, Chad Helms, Barbara Rohrbaugh, Dave Bebout, Kelly Loverdi, Micah & Batya Muskal, Chris Stacey, Tracy Sabetta, Ginevra Ventre, Rebecca Scharler, Joseph Kosch, Andrew & Alyssa Grau, Diana Roberts, Ilene Schwartz, Matthew Abens, Jim Ryder, Greg Pfister & Rebecca Brewer, Jordan Schildcrout, Kathleen Ventre, Juliana Sadock Savino, Warren-Matthew Buckey, Tim Foye, Phil Hays, Jeffrey Campbell, Jim & Sue Smith, David Porter, Melanie Majikas, Jim Pavlish, Stephanie Scalise, Matthew Kusznir, Eric & Carol Mack, Denise Carey, Michael Haynes, Jim Moses, Mary Grimm, Paul Gaffney, Dan Bobeczko, Audrey Hays, Micah & Ninel Kirman, Krista Macomber, Tawayne McGee, Matt Kloder, David & Kelly Keller, Marilyn Eppich, Dan Budin, Emily Hornack, Jen Vail, Eric McKee, Elise Kuklinca, Ed Whatley, Chuck Fink, Kristen Sears, Julian Rogers, Kerry Renner, Sandra Lang, Rita Politzer, Andre & Kim Watkins, George Hicks, Vince Reddy, Leslie Kushner, Dave Bell, Norman Kohlstrand, John & Nancy Patterson, Tom Lipka, Joan Moore, Margy Autero, Anne Suntala, Bridgett MacMichael, Marti Milliken Dixon, April Urban, Stephan Uijtewaal, John Kelly, Saroya Queen-Tabor, Doug Whipple, James Bacher, Greg Richey, Brent Pfister, Patti Carlyle, Kyle Weigland, Harriet Applegate, Harold Wilson, Shari Spencer, Joe Gilgallon, Gary Ward, Eric Pardee, Indira Gatlin, Stacey Kolthammer, Mary Grimm, Jack Greminger, Annie Rawlinson, Joanne Poderis, Paul Nees, Steve Holecko, Rick Pence, Jill Barr, Ken Block, Hank Kornblut, Sohail Ahmad, Steve Grace, and Dan Margolis. (This list is NOT complete.) Edited to add....Mal Barron, Bob Ventre, Alan Nemeth, John Mallet (the Mal Barron Quartet), Sean Weiss, Marcelo Weiss, Michael Caito...the list goes on and on...

To all of you who took a yard sign (would be another couple hundred to list so I won’t), to help let your friends and neighbors know of our message for our city, thank you. 

My sister, Kat, for things I cannot even begin to list. 

Hannah Lebovits, whose campaign was successful to the extent that she injected a lot of great ideas into the discussion, and who I look forward to working with as she remains engaged in our community.

My political mentors over the years, Eric Fingerhut, Kathleen Ann Sutula, Al Baldwin (RIP), and my mother, Kate. 

The Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, for their endorsement and support. This endorsement meant a lot to me for several reasons, one of which was for my godfather, David Pfister. He taught me so much about life and culture, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him terribly. AIDS took him in 1994. On election day, I wore his gray cardigan under my jacket. 

The local AFL-CIO and local UAW for their endorsement and support. It was an honor to have your endorsement on behalf of working people in our city, as well as your outreach efforts.

The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, for their endorsement, support, and tireless idealism.

Congratulations to our new school board members Jodi Sourini, Dan Heintz, and Malia Lewis. We have to give you the space and support to succeed, your mission is too important to not do that. I offer encouragement to Tiera Briggs to make another run for the board. If only there had been room for all four of you.

Congratulations to our re-elected Cleveland Heights city council members, Melissa Yasinow, Mike Ungar, Jason Stein, and Cheryl Stephens. I mention you not only because I like and respect you, but because the fortunes of our cities are especially tied together, and as such, we must work together for our mutual benefit.

Congratulations to our re-elected and returning University Heights city council members, Susan Pardee, Mark Wiseman, John Rach, and Phil Ertle. Together with Michele Weiss, Steve Sims, Pam Cameron, I look forward to our doing great things for our city.

Finally, to all the voters in University Heights, everyone who voted for change, thank you. And to those of you who didn’t, but love our city and are open to working together to move forward, I thank you too. University Heights is a great city, and it can be so much more.

Together, we will reach new heights!


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