Committed To “Keeping Young People In Cleveland”
CLEVELAND — Ariel Castro, sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison for the kidnapping, rape, and decade-long imprisonment of three young girls, launched an underdog campaign for mayor of Cleveland from his prison cell today.
The candidate acknowledged the controversy surrounding him but said he would “break through the noise” in order to give Clevelanders a voice.
“I know there are newspaper editors and politicians who say, boy, I wish that guy Castro would quit,” said the 53-year-old handyman and musician. “They don’t know Cleveland. They certainly don’t know me. Quit isn’t the way we roll in Cleveland.”
Castro, who pleaded guilty to 937 counts, including murder, told supporters in a video message that he would focus “like a laser” on jobs and economic growth.
“This is not about me. This is about the middle class and those struggling to make it,” he said from his cell in the Lorain Correctional Institution. “They’ve been shackled by an indifferent economic system that keeps them tied down and unable to reach their full potential.”
“We have to reverse this ‘brain drain’ and keep our young people in Cleveland where they belong,” he added.
Castro acknowledged having “difficulties” with the criminal justice system. But he claimed “those things are behind me 100 percent.”
“I’m not a monster. I’m a normal person. I’m sick just like an alcoholic,” he said. “But most of the sex, probably all of it, was consensual. We had a lot of harmony going on in our home.”
Castro’s brothers, Pedro and Onil, released a statement showing support for Castro: “Ariel’s made some horrible mistakes, but we love him, we have forgiven him, and we believe in him. It was not an easy choice in any way. But we made the decision.”
Ariel Castro admitted that new revelations may emerge in the days ahead. Reports suggest that the women he imprisoned kept a diary containing horrifying new details of their captivity. But he said it’s not up to the media to disqualify him.
“If someone wants to come out with something embarrassing about you in your private life, you’ve got to talk about that for a little while,” he said. “But that won’t do anything to put food on the table or a roof over the head of Clevelanders. I have proven I can do those things.”
The convicted felon, whose prison nickname is “Carlos In Danger,” according to correctional sources, remained defiant.
“If you vote for me, I won’t stop fighting for you until the last dog dies,” Castro said, adding that he did not kill any dogs.
John K. Herr is a Washington D.C.-based speechwriter and standup comedian (stage name “Herricane”). He has written for three governors and four Cabinet secretaries, and wrote jokes for President George W. Bush. He can be reached by email (email@example.com), or follow him on Twitter (@jherricane).