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Beloved principal Chantelle Lewis will stay on the job during run for statewide office (VIDEO/UPDATED)

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    Chantelle Lewis, right, speaks in this screencap of a video posted by Ohio governor candidate Bill O'Neill on Tuesday. O'Neill, who is running as a Democrat, has selected Lewis as his running mate.

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Larkmoor Elementary School will keep its beloved principal while the woman runs for statewide office.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill picked Principal Chantelle Lewis as his running mate Tuesday in the race for governor, adding diversity in race, age and experience that he contended will resonate with Democrats across the state.

Tuesday’s announcement in an online video started with O’Neill speaking about the state’s funding mechanism for public education that he called “a tragedy of epic proportion.” It was a good segue to the introduction of Lewis, a longtime educator who came to the Nebraska Avenue preschool through fifth grade school in 2013.

“She is bright, articulate and a success story right out of the America dream,” O’Neill said.

Lorain Schools CEO David Hardy spoke highly of Lewis and her tenure in the district.

“From what I see, she has the highest performing elementary school in our district and as gotten some results,” he said. “She is passionate about what she does and ultimately her kids love her and our families love her.”

Hardy said he doesn’t believe the campaign with affect Lewis’s job and is not asking her to step down at this time.

“Obviously, this is very early for any political race, but being the leader she is, I believe she will be able to keep her focus on our scholars,” he said.

Hardy said when the news broke that O’Neill tapped Lewis to share the gubernatorial ticket he was not surprised although the two did not specifically speak about the opportunity.

“Communication may have gotten loss with the holiday and school closures, but I knew of her background and her passion for politics. I wasn’t surprised in any way.”

David Hall, Oberlin’s superintendent, said he worked with Lewis when he was the assistant superintendent in Lorain. He calls her a dedicated and excellent educator.

“She cares about the community and students,” he said.

Hall said Lewis could add a different element to the statewide race.

“She is a very smart and energetic person,” he said. “She will provide a fresh look and opinion on issues.”

Lewis is only the second running mate to be announced by the crowded Democratic gubernatorial field, which includes former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. Ex-Congressman and Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich filed paperwork Monday for expected entry into the fray.

Three Republicans are also in the race to succeed GOP Gov. John Kasich, who can't run again due to term limits.

O'Neill, 70, caused a national stir in November when he volunteered candid details of his sexual past on Facebook in an attempt to take a swipe at the “media frenzy” over sexual misconduct. He later apologized. O'Neill has submitted his resignation from the bench effective Jan. 26.

On Tuesday, he called the addition of Lewis to his ticket “a dream come true.” The jurist, military veteran and nurse said the 42-year-old Lewis, who is black, brings a diversity and experience to his team that will resonate with Democratic voters. He said she has two master's degrees and is working on her doctorate.

“I'm a white male nurse running with a black female teacher,” he said. “It can't get more diverse than our ticket.”

Lorain school board member Mark Ballard said Lewis is a good, upstanding person.

“Chantelle Lewis is hard working and works hard for kids,” he said. “I’m sure she would bring that same passion to any further endeavor.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.

 


 

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O'Neill picked a Cleveland educator on Tuesday as his running mate in the race for governor, adding diversity in race, age and experience that he contended will resonate with Democrats across the state.

Chantelle E. Lewis, of East Cleveland, is a former city council member and school board member, a one-time Cleveland schools teacher and a current elementary school principal in Lorain County.

She is only the second running mate to be announced by the crowded Democratic gubernatorial field, which includes former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. Ex-Congressman and Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich filed paperwork Monday for expected entry into the fray.

Three Republicans are also in the race to succeed GOP Gov. John Kasich, who can't run again due to term limits.

O'Neill, 70, caused a national stir in November when he volunteered candid details of his sexual past on Facebook in an attempt to take a swipe at the “media frenzy” over sexual misconduct. He later apologized.

On Tuesday, he called the addition of Lewis to his ticket “a dream come true.” The jurist, military veteran and nurse said the 42-year-old Lewis, who is black, brings a diversity and experience to his team that will resonate with Democratic voters. He said she has two master's degrees and is working on her doctorate.

“I'm a white male nurse running with a black female teacher,” he said. “It can't get more diverse than our ticket.”

O'Neill has submitted his resignation from the bench effective Jan. 26.

He was drawn flak for campaigning while seated on the bench, which critics — including Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor — have said is a violation of judicial conduct rules.

O'Neill contends he is not violating a prohibition on campaigning for another office while serving on the court, because he will not legally become a “candidate” until he formally files his paperwork.



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