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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 6, 2006

Joe Santiago takes the helm in Cleveland's Ward 14

Cleveland--�I, Joe Santiago, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the state of Ohio, and the Charter of the city of Cleveland . . .�

With those words, Cleveland�s first openly gay elected official was sworn in January 2 before a standing room only crowd in the city�s opulent council chambers by Cleveland Municipal Court presiding judge Larry A. Jones.

Santiago took his Ward 14 seat between 25-year veteran Fannie Lewis and fellow newcomer Nina Turner as he called his election, �a victory in Ward 14 and a victory for diversity in Cleveland.� Santiago replaced his opponent Nelson Cintron as council�s only Hispanic.

Santiago recognized the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats for their help in his race and thanked the LGBT community for opportunities to be active and develop leadership skills.

He is a board member of the Cleveland LGBT Center.

In his first official act as a member of council, Santiago nominated Emily Lipovan Holan to be the Clerk of Council. She was approved unanimously.

Lipovan Holan had run to keep the council seat she was appointed to in adjacent Ward 15, but was defeated by Brian Cummins. Santiago credits her for convincing him to run four years ago. He held the Bible while she was sworn in.

Santiago has chosen community organizer Sister Alicia Alvarado as his executive assistant. According to a campaign insider, Alvarado neutralized opposition to Santiago�s sexual orientation within the Catholic church that is influential in his ward, helping it to be a non-issue.

With Santiago in office and Mark Tumeo sworn in the next evening in Cleveland Heights, 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.


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