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Issue Date: September 2010 Issue


Ken Lanci, 60 / Independent


Erick Trickey
trickey@clevelandmagazine.com
To Lanci, the county government's like a failing company, and he's ready to buy in and get it working again. The CEO of Consolidated Graphics Group, a Midtown printing business, Lanci bills himself as a turnaround expert: He's owned close to 20 companies, all startups or ailing businesses he revived. He's visited 60 county agencies and departments, taking notes on what he'd do if elected.

What we should expect from the new county executive: Someone who "could hit the ground running with the understanding of how the county operates and what needs to be done by the time they get there."

Jobs: County government needs to become business-friendly by working faster. "If I went out and was able to bring back a Fortune 500 company and had to take the amount of time it's taken to get this Med Mart approved and built, they'd never come." He'd set up training for jobs at the casino and Medical Mart and create massive databases of vacant properties and every unemployed worker's skills.

Regionalism: Lanci wants "to offer collaboration for the sake of saving money," he says, "without regionalizing or consolidating everything." He wants the county, schools and cities to leverage buying power by combining some purchasing and procurement.

More reforms: Lanci would hire a chief technology officer to overhaul the county's outdated systems and stop outsourcing IT work. He wants to end sheriff's sales of foreclosed homes and small businesses and regulate lobbyists, vendors and consultants.

The current county government's successes and failures: "We are providing services to the truly needy in a major way," but the three-commissioner system created "a constant battle to move forward."
 

 
Can Ken Lanci play well with others?

Ken Lanci has already answered the first two questions about him. Since voters don't often listen to a candidate they've never heard of, Lanci turned 75 buses into rolling billboards adorned with his red-and-blue banners. Since people ask CEOs-turned-candidates if they know anything about government, Lanci's talked to 60 county department directors, taking serious notes.

Now, he's got to give voters a sense of his character and show how he turned around so many troubled companies. He's also got to show he can handle the give and take of governing. His disdain for politics shows when he imagines working with the county council and the area's congressional delegation. He talks sternly about holding them accountable, as if he'd be the most trustworthy guy in the room and as if they'd work for him, not with him. Can Lanci persuade, not just give orders?

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