UPDATED (Please scroll down for a response from Councilman Anthony Hairston)
Anthony T. Hairston, a 27-year-old graduate of Cleveland State University, was sworn in as the District 10 representative for Cuyahoga County Council last March 11. He was selected to replace former councilman Julian Rogers, who resigned to accept a position at Cleveland State. Part of the deal was that Hairston had to run for election this fall and win to continue in the job.
Hairston, a lifelong resident of the Collinwood community, graduated from Collinwood High School and then enrolled in Cleveland State University. His website states that he graduated from CSU with a business degree from the Monte Ahuja School of Business. He is currently a candidate for his master’s in labor relations and human resources at Cleveland State. In addition, he is the owner of a telecommunications company, Northeast Exclusive.
Hairston’s website states that he has been deeply involved in politics for more than a decade. He was a neighborhood team leader during President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Hairston also worked as the liaison for Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson, Cleveland.com reports. He managed Councilman Johnson’s successful campaign run against former Councilman Eugene Miller.
Hairston has received many awards and other recognition for his work in the Cuyahoga County political scene. In 2010, he was featured in the Call and Post newspaper as “The Youngest Elected Ward Leader in the State of Ohio.” Hairston was awarded the President’s Educational Achievement Award by former President George W. Bush. He also received the Scholastic Achievement Resolution, an award presented to him by Cleveland Municipal Clerk of Courts Earl B. Turner.
Hairston has not made himself available to answer questions. Despite numerous emails and calls to his cell phone, it was impossible to set up an interview with him. Other organizations appear to have had similar issues with Hairston.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio Media Group together developed a voter’s guidebook on the candidates up for election this November. The guide, which is available for viewing on Cleveland.com, includes a brief biography on the candidates and lists a series of questions for each one. Every one of the five questions listed for Hairston included the same answer: “Candidate did not respond.”
Since it was not possible to gain any insight from Hairston into the position of a Cuyahoga County council member, John Carroll political science professor Sara Schiavoni was asked what a county council representative does.
“The role of a county council representative is essentially to govern their district in County Council,” she said. However, Schiavoni explained, the new charter for county council, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2010, stated that the council member’s position was part-time. This can prove frustrating for council members and constituents alike because oftentimes, more work is necessary than is usual for a part-time position, Schiavoni said. Hairston’s position is listed as part-time, with a salary of $45,000 a year.
While it is understandable that the job of county council member may not demand as much attention as a full-time job, to completely disregard questions from constituents is unusual behavior for a politician.
“That is unacceptable behavior as a councilman. You took the job to serve the people. If you cannot do that then you shouldn’t have the job,” said John Carroll University freshman Dana Ilacqua, who is one of Hairston’s constituents, as are all John Carroll students.
Junior Priscilla Flores felt similarly. “As a councilman, he should be able to respond and reach out to individuals who want to interview him, and this is a chance for him to publicize his concerns and plans for the county. Regardless if it’s a part-time job, he should be able to respond and fully engage himself with the people of the county.”
Upon winning in March, Cleveland.com obtained a statement from Hairston in which he said, “I’m ready to work. I’m ready to help to continue to transform our county government and work with the people in the district to make that happen.”
The people of Cuyahoga County are ready to hear from their representative and learn about what he is doing for them.
Anthony T. Hairston is running unopposed for his position as District 10 representative for Cuyahoga County council in the upcoming Nov. 4 election.
The following is a response from Councilman Anthony Hairston:
“In response to the Carroll News piece titled “Cuyahoga County Council, District 10: Anthony Hairston, the silent campaigner” published on October 31, 2014, I feel it is important to clarify a few points made in the article. Regretfully, despite reaching out to the reporter on several occasions (beginning with an email on October 4th in which I provided my direct contact information), we have thus far been unable to find a mutually agreeable time and place for an interview. However, there is a need to correct the implication that I am not available to the community I serve.
I strive to be accessible and responsive not only to the approximately 120,000 constituents of District 10, but also to residents of the County as a whole. There are many ways to reach me: by phone, email and Facebook, through Council staff, and also face-to-face at Council meetings and the many community meetings I attend to make sure there is a free and open dialogue between the people and their representative on Council.
My colleagues on County Council and I take the work of county governance very seriously and recognize that our oversight role is really an extension of the oversight responsibility of the people of Cuyahoga County. This is why County Council is one of the most open and accessible legislative bodies in the state. Not only are all of our meetings open to the public, we also provide free parking for those who can attend Council and committee meetings, and we live stream meetings and archive video on YouTube for those who cannot make it in person. We invite all of the County’s residents, reporters included, to get more engaged in the future of Cuyahoga County.”
– Councilman Anthony Hairston