Get to Know James Costello

Get to Know 2017 Endorsed Candidate ... James Costello

Name: James Costello
Office you’re seeking: Cleveland Heights Municipal Court Judge
Are you an incumbent? No
Age: 38
Facebook page:

Why are you running?

I am dedicated to Cleveland Heights. I was raised here. I delivered the Sun Press, bagged groceries at Russo’s, and sold cars at Motorcars. Growing up here helped shape who I am. My wife, Alicia, and I have chosen to make this our home and raise our two sons in this diverse and creative community. I am engaged in our community. I served on the Cleveland Heights Recreation Advisory Board and the Cleveland Heights Civil Service Commission. I am a graduate of the Cleveland Heights Citizens Police Academy, which improved my understanding of our Police Department and its operations. The outcome of this race will have a serious and lasting effect on Cleveland Heights. If I am elected judge, I will work hard every day both on the bench, in one of the busiest single judge courts in the area, as well as off the bench, being visible and engaged in the community, and I will be the public servant that Cleveland Heights needs and deserves.

What are the most important issues on your campaign?

Electing the right judge is not about issue and promises like lower taxes or better schools, instead it is about selecting the person with dedication, integrity, impartiality, judicial temperament, and experience. I believe that the fact I am from Cleveland Heights, and have been active in our City, is important. I also have the experience needed to serve as Judge. I am a current Acting Judge in the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court, appointed two years ago by our retiring Judge Buchanan. In addition, in my twelve years as a practicing attorney, I have handled a vast array of every type of case that gets heard in our Municipal Court including civil and small claims cases, evictions, and housing code violation cases.

I have been endorsed by the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, the Cleveland Heights Democrats, the North Shore AFL-CIO, our State Senator and Representative, our Mayor, Vice Mayor, every member of council, past mayors and council people, and numerous other citizens, business owners, and leaders in our community.

As a Judge, I promise to be fair and impartial. If elected, I will improve the efficiency and accountability of our Court. I will focus on our housing docket, providing avenues for neighbors who wish to stay in and improve their homes, and punish those, like absentee landlords and out-of-state banks and owners, who refuse to take care of their properties. On criminal and traffic cases, I believe that offenders need to be punished, but they may also need to be given the tools necessary to change their path. I will build on and improve programs like our youth mentoring program and the driver’s license suspension diversion program. I also know there are inequities in our judicial system, and while there is certainly no simple solution, improved interactions and continual discussions between all those with a stake in our City are essential. When I am elected Judge, I pledge to focus on, and never shy away from, these issues.

Give us a fun fact about yourself.

I was named after my two grandfathers, James Costello and Joseph Massaro, but I have been “J.J.” my whole life. Right after college I tried to be an adult and go by James, but it did not stick. I am now running for Judge, and it will be James on the ballot, but I suspect if I am elected, I will still be Judge J.J. on the bench.

Who is your favorite president? Why?

I know this is not the politically correct answer, but my favorite President is Abraham Lincoln, who just happened to also be the first Republican President. He led our county through our greatest moral crisis and our deadliest war. While we still as a country struggle with the effects of that war, by leading us through, he paved the way to abolish slavery and strengthen our county.

What’s your favorite food on the campaign trail? Why?

Any homemade cookies at a house party.  As a result, I am going to need a larger robe if I win this election.

If you could be a superhero, who would you be? Why?

My answer of a Republican President to question 4 may have upset some hardcore Democrats. My answer to this question will probably upset some hardcore comic book fans in that there is some question as to whether Batman is an actual “superhero.” Nonetheless, that is who I would like to be, a guy without any real superpowers, but who, with a strong moral code, is able to fight evil.

If you were a professional athlete what song would you choose to be your “walk out” song?

"Scenario" by A Tribe Called Quest

What was your first paid job?

Bagging groceries at Russo’s, the grocery store around the corner.

How can young dems help in your race?

Spread the word about my campaign. Whether it is by helping me knock on doors or simply telling your friends about me, that is how local elections are won.