Races for the 11th Congressional seat and Cleveland mayor heat up, it's just people haven't noticed

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 19:55:38-04

CLEVELAND — On the airwaves, the commercials are running, and in the yards, the lawn signs are planted. After a highly political 2020, our democracy continues unabated, but many are confused or completely unaware of the local elections taking place in the coming months.

Think you know our local politics? Take a quick quiz here to find out.

The calendar may read late June, but in the special primary election for the 11th Congressional District seat, it’s the equivalent of late September, because the election is only six weeks away, on August 3. You didn’t know that? You’re not alone.

We asked a sampling of voters on Public Square if they knew when the special election was; the answers ranged from “Nope, not a clue,” to “November 5” to the fail-safe answer “this year.”

Adding to the voter confusion this year is the fact we also have a highly contested primary for the open Cleveland mayor’s seat. Voters again were at a loss.

“Is it June? I mean July? When is it?” asked one voter. September 14 is the answer.

It doesn’t help that in a good part of Cleveland, these races overlap and are competing for voter attention at a time voters aren’t used to paying attention. So while it's not unusual to see a Shontel Brown for Congress lawn sign share space with a Zack Reed for Mayor sign, it is when they're on a lawn as we found in Shaker Heights, where Reed isn't on the ballot.

Also you have hopefuls that voters may associate with the wrong race. Former Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson, for example, who four years ago ran for Cleveland mayor is running for Congress this year. Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich is now running for mayor.

Matthew Malvic of Cleveland Heights said to not overthink the reasons for voter confusion, just blame it on 2020.

"I think people might be a little burnt out on politics right now after last year with the whole bipartisan separation, you know, people are just sticking their heads in the sand, and I might be one of them right now,” he said.