EUCLID, OH – College educator Richard Montgomery, Phd. had barely announced his plans to seek the city’s job as mayor when a group of residents who wanted to maintain the racial status quo joined a social media group’s conversation about splitting or “diverting” the black vote. Their conversation was shared outside the group. Euclid residents on both sides reacted angrily to the vote-splitting plan they were conceiving.
A black participant was particularly scorned by other black residents for agreeing to help their vote-splitting scheme to create an “ebony and ivory” ticket with a “solid” candidate other than Montgomery. A candidate for mayor demanding that police operate without the violence and racial profiling was deemed as “too black.”
The city of Euclid since the eastern European ethnics who reside there stripped White Anglo Saxon Protestants (WASP) of political power in the 1960’s and 70’s has been a center of racial political strife in Cuyahoga County.
Today the population of Euclid is over 55 percent black. The 2020 U.S. Census is expected to see a black population of closer to 60 percent.
White ethnics are balkanized along the lines of their ancestry. Most of the city’s white residents are German, Irish and Italian. They’re followed by smaller groups of Czechs, Slovenians, Polish, Hungarians, Croatians and Serbians. Politically, a unified black vote driven by a high turnout campaign would have seen blacks taking over the city’s political offices in the 1980’s and 90’s.
Like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban today complains about Africans immigrating to the nation’s borders, the Hungarians and other eastern Europeans of Euclid fought the growing presence of the city’s black residents like the WASP’s fought and tried to restrict their growth. The Ku Klux Klan chapter in Youngstown had eastern Europeans in mind when they organized.
Euclid city council even went as far in the 1970’s to purchase an entire apartment complex at E. 260th Street that was populated with African American and Russian immigrants. They bought the property to demolish it.
Montgomery told EJBNEWS during an interview how he saw some voters’ pre-occupation with the race of candidates instead of their qualifications as politically devastating for the city’s future.
Montgomery said he’s not surprised by the reaction of the voters in the group. He sees among them the same type of divisive mindset that has stunted the city’s growth. Development has been primarily along Lakeshore Boulevard near the Lake Erie shoreline instead of along Euclid Avenue where the majority of residents are African American.
The city’s current mayor, Gail Kristen Holzheimer served on council but had no management background. She’s a social worker. He thinks Holzheimer’s lack of management experience has shown in how she handled controversies involving Euclid’s violent and constitutionally-abusive police. Even now the city’s mayor and council are making the disastrous decision to turn its income tax collections over to the Regional Income Tax Authority.
The same type of “RITA move” by East Cleveland’s recalled ex-mayor, Gary Norton, ended up costing the city its general fund. City revenue and tax collections was cut in half from approximately $20 million in 2009 to approximately $10 million in 2019. Montgomery said he thinks Euclid officials should slow down and study how a relationship with RITA has impacted tax collections in other cities.
Montgomery said he’s focusing on the “race” for mayor and not the race of the people he’s asking to elect him. His concentration is on issues like RITA and how to build a free city hospital to care for Euclid’s residents. He said safety is important but so are constitutionally-compliant police.
Montgomery told EJBNEWS he has been pouring through the city’s records and governing documents to learn more of the details about about how the current mayor has managed the city. He doesn’t trust the audit the city’s been getting from its paid private auditor and wants the “real” and elected state auditor to examine the books once he takes office.
The college educator said it’s his goal to hit the ground running. He plans to be ahead instead of behind the learning curve for the job should he win in November.
Euclid doesn’t have a mayoral primary. It’s elections are “winner take all” in the general.