Join Ross DiBello for Mayor of Cleveland

Real Democracy.
Right Direction.

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About

Get To Know Ross

Check out a snapshot of my professional career here.

I have lived in West Park near Kamms Corner with my wife Lauren and our CityDog “Baby,” for two years now. I love my neighbors, the local watering holes, the pizza joints, Rubin’s Family Restaurant & Deli, The Hooley, the fish fry at St. Mary’s and too much more to list here. (My wife especially loves Five Points Coffee & Tea.) Before that, I spent six years living in Downtown Cleveland, at both the Bingham Lofts and Bridgeview Apartments on West 9th Street.

Though much of my family resides in Little Italy, I grew up in Chesterland, Ohio and attended Notre Dame Cathedral Latin High School in Chardon. In 2005, I graduated from THE Ohio State University with Bachelor’s Degrees in Communications and Psychology. I graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University in 2008 and was subsequently admitted to the Ohio Bar.

Almost my entire professional life (2009-2020) has been spent in service to the Honorable Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams. I started as a receptionist/law-clerk/lawyer at The Law Offices of Cassandra Collier-Williams, LLC, and assisted on her two judicial campaigns in 2010 and 2012. I visited all 59 municipalities in Cuyahoga County, and all 17 Wards in Cleveland, meeting people on the judge’s behalf and talking with them about the community, the judge’s campaign and what a common pleas judge does.

I know the struggles that hard working Clevelanders face. During this time, I faced worry from debt as I worked two full-time jobs for close to minimum wage. Then, after a victorious 2012 campaign, I received the honor of serving as Judge Collier-Williams’s staff attorney at the Court of Common Pleas until April of 2020 when, due to family concerns and coronavirus, I had to make the difficult choice to pursue freelance legal work while confined to my home.

I love games. My whole life, if I found a game that interested me, I worked until I knew that game inside and out. Before my legal career and throughout law school, I paid the bills as a professional poker player and even made it to the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2009. Also, as a lifelong, die hard Cleveland and Ohio State sports fan, I’ve been a season ticket holder for every team at one point or another.

If Cleveland takes a chance on me, I promise I’ll work tirelessly to find a solution to every challenge we face, starting with how we make Cleveland schools the envy of every other system in Northeast Ohio.

Memberships/Affiliations:

  • Lifelong Democrat
  • 2019 graduate of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Leadership Academy
  • Cleveland Wards 11 and 17 Democratic Club
  • Cleveland Professional Twenty-Thirty Club
  • The Ohio State University Alumni Club of Greater Cleveland
  • Westshore Bar Association
  • Justinian Forum
  • City Dogs Volunteer (and Adopter)
Policy

Together A Better Cleveland Is Possible

Why I'm Running

Too many of our children are living in poverty. Racial injustice is a crisis of both our morals and our public health. Our schools are failing students and their teachers.

Housing inequity, homelessness and lead paint poisoning are at crisis levels. Our public transportation system is in disrepair. Minority infant mortality rates, addiction and mental health issues go unaddressed in a city with world class medical facilities. Quality jobs with higher wages are needed to help our people lift themselves up.

All the while, a stagnant, toxic culture in City Hall has little to show for all their years in office. They’ve squandered our tax dollars and partnered with bad-faith actors.

Black Lives Matter

Politics and policy cannot matter more than black lives. Working in our court system for over seven years, I saw the law applied unfairly against minorities time and again. We have to fight this injustice daily and affect change by lobbying the state and doing whatever we can at the municipal level. Instituting curfews and bans cannot be the answer when we know how unevenly those laws will be enforced.

Current budget estimates have the city spending $218 Million on police in 2020. Rather than spending less, let’s spend it differently. Let’s spend more on our people and less on weapons. Let’s put that money toward education and innovations in community policing that will achieve more humanitarian results for the people of our city, and comply with Federal decrees and recommendations toward those ends.

We’re running out of time to bring our city into an actual renaissance, based on real leadership and inspired direction rather than catchy slogans, fleeting glamor from one-off events and shiny pet development projects.

We must come together to determine the direction that we want this city to go in, what reforms need to be made to get us there, and which leaders we need making those decisions.

The Hard Truth

The Mayor, City Council and too many other of our elected leaders make decisions based not on what is best for rank-and-file Clevelanders or the best practices for our city, but rather the fear of angering campaign financiers that reside outside of city limits.

The Right Future

Decisions that put Cleveland children, residents, local business and our civic institutions first will only be made by leaders who won’t cater to a broken campaign finance system. We must create a more democratic government by Clevelanders and for Clevelanders, through amendments to the City Charter put forth to the people:

  • Immediate Public Comment for all City Council Meetings.
  • Restrict individual donations to City of Cleveland candidates to a maximum of $750 a year (currently $5,000 per year mayoral and $1,500 per year for a councilperson)
  • Restrict corporate donations to a maximum of $250 to a City of Cleveland candidate (currently $7,500 mayoral and $3,000 per year for a councilperson).
  • Mayor and Council Members may not run for the same government position if they have served in that position for 5 years as of the date of the next election (This allows for 2 full terms in 8 years for new representatives).
  • Primary elections for future council and mayoral elections will occur during Presidential primary years, with general elections occuring during Presidential election years.
  • No more appointments for vacant Council or Mayoral seats.

When City Council voted overwhelmingly to increase campaign contribution limits in 2016, attentive taxpayers and those who closely follow policy gained an understanding of why we find ourselves in our current state. Ohioans need only look to present day events to see the influence of corporate money in government. Cleveland will not be able to compete with neighboring, similarly situated cities on a humanitarian or business level until we institute a system that ensures better leadership. We remain a city with great geographic and cultural advantages, but until we fix this broken system, the poor results and population loss will persist.

Other Ross DiBello for Mayor platform issues include:

  • Recast the yearly budget as a Moral Document.
  • Ensure a transparent, representative government that treats all Clevelanders equally by putting an end to crony capitalism and unfair, unjustified handouts of taxpayer money.
  • Unite all 17 Wards and 34 Cleveland neighborhoods.
  • Continuous community education to foster knowledge and appreciation of our diverse population.
  • Demand the Ohio Lottery renegotiate with the City of Cleveland.
  • Gun Buybacks and Criminal Justice Reform.
  • Prioritize public transportation, recycling, green spaces, schools, police, fire departments, libraries and other services.
  • Create more affordable living units within the city, not just high-priced condos.
  • Increase innovation in public education.
  • Rethink philanthropic financing and seek out global philanthropic interests in struggling urban areas.
  • Close Burke Lakefront Airport and create a vibrant lakefront with endless live/work/learn possibilities for Clevelanders.

With our current system, Clevelanders need to be aware that the Mayor they elect in 2021 could certainly still be campaigning in 2041 with a message that “there’s more work to be done.” That Mayor will outraise any ordinary, competent working resident of this city that wants to change it for the better. Now is our chance to secure a better future for our city and its people. If not, we’ll suffer the consequences for decades to come.

Democracy affords us the opportunity to set a high standard for our city. Will we continue to accept having the highest rate of child poverty in the country?

If the last five years are any indication, we know that once this election is over, the fat and happy residents of City Hall won’t be moved to action by any number of our signatures on any ballot initiative we put forth. If we act now, we can evict these negligent tenants and reclaim Cleveland government for Clevelanders.

Please join me in my campaign to reform Cleveland now and forever. Together we can make common sense, tangible changes that the current collection of lifelong politicians propped up by wealthy donors will never even bother to address.

The only way this situation changes is if Clevelanders are willing to act, speak the truth and become politically active in 2021.

Support ROSS DIBELLO FOR MAYOR. Help us fight for Cleveland’s future.

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