Ohio elects first FilAm mayor of Brunswick

Taking his oath as the first FilAm mayor of Brunswick

Taking his oath as the first FilAm mayor of Brunswick

By Maricar CP Hampton

Almost a year into being elected mayor of Brunswick in Ohio, Ronald ‘Ron’ Falconi said he is happy to be part of the growing Filipino history in the U.S. and “privileged to be playing a small role in helping to shape the future.”

Born and raised in the Cleveland area, Ron, a lawyer by profession has always been interested in politics.

“I have been involved with the Republican Party for just about my entire adult life.  I have volunteered in many different campaigns ranging from local, state, and national elections,” Falconi said an in an interview with The FilAm Metro D.C.

He grew up in the 1980s listening to Ronald Reagan speak about restoring the greatness of America.

“It was a time when our country seemed to be feeling sorry for itself.  He was not afraid to stand up for his beliefs,” said Falconi.  “One of the biggest things that he did was to challenge communism at its very core.  This was a message that appealed to me because I was so fascinated with international politics and how the countries interrelated to each other.  Because I agreed with him on these issues, I began to wonder if I agreed with him on others, and I did.”

The son of Filipino immigrants who came to the U.S. in the 1960s, Falconi entered politics by becoming a member of the City Council. He was appointed to fill an open seat in January 2008. He won a four-year full term the following year. In 2013 he ran for mayor to succeed Gary Werner, who did not seek re-election.

“Instead of running for re-election to my council seat, I ran for mayor instead.  I ran unopposed, and my first day on the job was January 1, 2014,” he said.

In Brunswick, Filipinos make up less than 1 percent of a predominantly white community with a population of about 35,000.

His father Edgardo Falconi, now deceased, was an electrical engineer who comes from Tondo in Manila; and his mother Teresita Liongson from Sta. Cruz, Manila, was a physician who worked for the VA Hospital in Brecksville.

“Growing up FilAm was fun,” he said.

“Both of my parents spoke Tagalog to my sister and me growing up.  I can understand Tagalog like I understand English.  My mother prepared Filipino food at home, and we attended different Filipino parties and organizations,” Falconi said. “Our family attended different parties and gatherings of the APPO (Association of Philippine Physicians of Ohio), PASO (Philippine American Society of Ohio), and the PAM (Philippine American Ministry), just to name a few.  Even though there were not many Filipinos in the Cleveland area, everyone pretty much knew each other.”

Although for the most part, Falconi and his sister, Lourdes, now an Ob/Gyn, had a happy childhood, he shared how they had faced challenges growing up.

“Most of the people in the U.S. are either black or white.  As Filipinos, we were the minority of the minority.   I knew that we did not look like everybody else, but I did not think it would automatically prohibit me from moving forward in life,” he said.

“I experienced racism growing up.  Some people assumed I was a foreigner.  I do remember there were times when people would take one look at me, hear me speak, and then actually compliment me on my English!  They did not know that I was born and raised right here in Northeastern Ohio.”

Falconi has been married 16 years to Genevieve Cachuela, who is chief of Pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic in Brunswick. They have two children Joey and Angela.

“Geny and I met on a blind date in Detroit where my sister introduced us because they were both doing their medical residencies there at the same time.  She is the daughter of former Muntinlupa City Councilman Ernesto Cachuela (now deceased),” he shared.

As a father, he said he tries to impart to his children Filipino values such as perseverance, diligence, and hard work so they can succeed in life.   He also stresses the importance of “thanking God for all his blessings.”

“My children and I can understand Tagalog even though we have a hard time speaking it.  My wife, who is originally from the Philippines, makes Filipino food at home.  On occasion, we all watch Tagalog movies together. I also enjoy reading about Philippine politics and entertainment when I get the chance,” he described a typical family gathering.

Falconi enjoys singing and travelling. In 2010, his family visited the Philippines. Two years later they drove all the way to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, marking the passage of time by the trips they took.

As mayor, his duties include running the council meetings, appointing people to boards and commissions, attending grand openings, and conducting the Mayor’s Court which hears cases involving violations of local ordinances and state traffic laws.

Falconi’s plan to boost Brunswick’s local economy involved the creation of an economic zone that would drive businesses up his city.

“One of my initiatives is a project that I’ve been working on since I was still a councilman. I am working with our neighbors in Brunswick Hills Township to develop a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).  In my view, it would help to revitalize the western part of the city and help drive businesses to the area,” he said.

The Falconis experience Luneta Park in a 2010 visit to the Philippines.

The Falconis experience Luneta Park in a 2010 visit to the Philippines.

Leave a Reply