CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term after serving eight years in the position.
The 68-year-old Budish made the announcement in a pre-recorded video Tuesday.
Budish said his respect for the limits of public service and his love for his family were two reasons that led him to his decision not to seek a third term.
"In fact, it was a very hard decision. It's the greatest honor of my life to serve as county executive. I'm proud of the great work we've done together to improve the quality of life for those most in need and to help take Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to higher levels of economic growth and innovation. I love waking up every morning thinking about what we'll do today to help improve the lives of the people of Cuyahoga County," he said.
In an interview following the announcement, Budish pointed to a number of those accomplishments he believes improved the county.
They include expanding access to pre-kindergarten for kids, the county's historic opioid settlement, and the opening of a diversion center aimed at keeping people in need of mental health services out of jail.
"I can go through a whole list of successful achievements that mean something to the people of this county, that improved their lives every day," said Budish.
But there were dark moments during his time as county executive too.
Eight county jail inmates died in six months during 2018.
Budish called it a tragedy he relives every day, but said Tuesday he was in the dark about jail conditions that inspectors later called "inhumane."
"In hindsight, I wish I had good information," said Budish. "I didn't get good information until I called up the US Marshals and said 'come on in, I need to know what's really going on.'"
Three county administrators under Budish were also indicted and later convicted of crimes in office.
And Budish himself was a target of investigators including a 2019 FBI raid of his office.
Budish, who was not charged with a crime, said Tuesday he's not personally aware of any ongoing criminal probe into his actions.
"We have had an investigation going on for three and a half years, we as a county government have cooperated every step of the way," said Budish. "We've been totally transparent about everything and we will continue, if there is a continuing investigation, to be cooperative."
Budish said in the next 14 months, he will bring several initiatives forward that will include programs to attract new businesses and jobs using microgrids, which will provide reliable electricity, and will highlight freshwater to manufacturers who need a steady supply of Northeast Ohio’s natural resource.
He also said he believes if he ran for re-election, he would win a third term in office.
"I've talked to a lot of people and I believe had I run, I would have clearly won," said Budish. "I had plenty of support both in terms of endorsements and supporters who were willing to contribute."
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