Yes, he's the son of Indians owner Larry Dolan, who's helping to bankroll his campaign. But Matt Dolan is also a former state representative who helped forge the bipartisan 2007 budget agreement — then broke with his party last year by voting to suspend an income tax cut to plug a hole in the new budget. He moved from Russell Township to Chagrin Falls in December to run for county executive, but he's quick to note that he represented four Cuyahoga County suburbs as well as Geauga County in the legislature.
What we should expect from the new county executive: "The person has to lead with honesty and integrity so that we restore the public's faith in public service." County government must work with businesses and "not put them through hoops." The executive should make the county's social services more effective and ensure they help people prepare to be self-sufficient.
Jobs: Dolan says public officials have "destroyed" their relationship with business through neglect. His Cuyahoga Forward plan would create a "one-stop shop" for businesses seeking to relocate and expand, helping them obtain financing, tax incentives, land and work force training.
Regionalism: The county could offer some services cities now provide, but it has to "get its own house in order" first. Once the county makes its own contracting more efficient, it could reduce the cost of government by coordinating shared contracts among city halls and school boards. "It's then that you can have the discussion about shared services."
More reforms: "People will be trained in all aspects of human services so your needs can be met with one visit, rather than forcing the customer to have to go building to building to get the services they need." He supports creating a "welcome center" to help connect immigrants to education and job training.
The current county government's successes and failures: "It became a political fiefdom," he says. "A culture has evolved where they've lost sight that the purpose of government is to serve the public. It is not to serve yourself." Still, he's impressed with the county's brownfield programs to improve old industrial properties.
Can Matt Dolan end the Republican losing streak?
Matt Dolan can talk with authority about how state and county government work together. His soothing temperament made him successful at working with both parties in the state legislature. Although he lived in Geauga County until late last year, he helped get the Cuyahoga County land bank passed into law. But in a county where Democrats typically beat Republicans by 2-to-1 or more, a lot of people think Dolan's doomed by the scarlet R pinned to his name.
For Dolan to win the executive race, everything would have to go right for him. The four-way general election gives him an opening, but McCormack, the human-services liberal, would have to peel away more Democratic votes than Lanci, the businessman, will take from Republicans. An awkwardly timed federal indictment of Dimora or Russo could turn some people off of voting for any Democrat. Republicans' anti-Obama excitement would have to be matched by Democratic lethargy on Election Day.
Voters would have to accept Dolan's promise to recuse himself from the county's dealings with Gateway, because his father owns the Indians. Yet Dolan would have to spend millions of his family's fortune to saturate the town with his message. Most of all, Dolan would have to run desperately and aggressively, animated by his once-in-a-generation opportunity for a Republican victory.