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Sunday, January 08, 2006 

Diversity Gained - Diversity Lost

Mark Tumeo is seated on Cleveland Heights council

by Eric Resnick via Cleveland Stonewall Dems

Cleveland Heights--“All seven members of council present,” said Cleveland Heights mayor Edward Kelley, responding to the final name on acting clerk Sharon McGuire’s roll call: Mark Tumeo.

Moments before, Tumeo was sworn in by close friend and campaign treasurer Gordon Wean with his partner Jeff Stark at his side, making him the first openly gay official in what is, by percentage, Ohio’s gayest city among those with populations over 20,000. It is also the only Ohio city with a domestic partner registry and domestic partner benefits for city employees.

Tumeo took the oath of office January 3 before a standing-room-only crowd in city council chambers.

In an early act as a council member, Tumeo honored the diversity gained by his election and the diversity lost by his defeat of Jimmie Hicks, Jr., one of two black councilors in a city that is 41% African-American.

“My election means that council will be a very different kind of diverse,” said Tumeo, “but we lost diversity, too.”

With that, Tumeo nominated 12-year veteran Phyllis Evans to become the vice mayor, challenging the re-nomination of current vice mayor Kenneth Montlack, who is white.

Montlack was supported by members Nancy Dietrich and Dennis Wilcox. Evans was supported by Tumeo and Bonnie Caplan. Kelley, whom council returned to the mayor’s post that evening, cast the decisive vote for Montlack.

Tumeo has been chosen to chair the city’s Administrative Services Committee, which is responsible for board and commission appointments and affirmative action policy. He will also serve on the city’s finance committee.

Tumeo publicly thanked Hicks for working with him on a smooth transition.

With Tumeo in office and Joe Santiago sworn in the evening before in Cleveland, Ohio will now have six openly gay and lesbian elected officials. Nickie Antonio took her seat on the Lakewood council last week, Mary Jo Hudson was set to be sworn in to her Columbus council seat January 4, and Joe Lacey will take his Dayton school board seat January 10. Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows was not up for re-election this year.

I am happy for Mark Tumeo and proud of Cleveland Heights. He's going to be a great councilman. I'm sure he'll be 200% better than Hicks. Whom I voted for in the past but was enraged by for his anti-gay rhetoric and then his decision to sue the city after we voted for and passed the domestic registry - that he didn't like. It still makes me angry thinking about it. Yay Mark! Yay Cleveland Heights! And - While I am at it - Yay Stonewalls. They are a great asset to our city.