(SWEENEY, PATRICK A. 2 Sep 1939 – 7 Sep 2020) served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1967 through 1996, then in the Ohio Senate in 1997 and 1998, securing millions of state dollars for the arts, social services, and higher education to northeast Ohio. Sweeney was one of five children born on Cleveland’s West Side to Thomas and Bridget (Ruddy) Sweeney. His father immigrated from Achill Parish in County Mayo in 1923; his mother immigrated from County Monaghan in 1930. Sweeney attended Saint Ignatius High School, served in the United States Air Force, and received a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Following his cousin Michael A. Sweeney into politics, Sweeney was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1967. Another cousin, Francis E. Sweeney Sr., served on the Ohio Supreme Court from 1993 through 2004. During Patrick Sweeney’s 30 years of service in the House, representing a district on Cleveland’s West Side, he held the positions of majority whip, assistant majority leader and minority leader. He was chairman of both the Legislative Budget Committee and the influential House Finance and Appropriations Committee. He was in line to become Speaker of the House, but in November 1994, the Republican Party captured the House and Sweeney served as minority leader instead. In 1997, he was appointed to the Ohio Senate to fill the vacancy created by Dennis Kucinich’s election to U. S. Congress; Sweeney stayed in the Ohio Senate through 1998. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Cleveland twice and, in 1998, lost a primary race against then-Bedford Heights Mayor Jimmy Dimora for Cuyahoga County Commissioner.
Sweeney, a lifelong Democrat, was well known for his wit, capacity for friendship, collaboration, and ability to “work across the aisle.” He was highly successful at obtaining funds for health and human services as well as for the development of many major civic projects in Cleveland, including PLAYHOUSE SQUARE, the Gateway District (see GATEWAY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORP., CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY, CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, and the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM. He was particularly instrumental in promoting the expansion of Cleveland State University, where he served as assistant to the vice president of governmental relations after leaving the Ohio State Legislature.
He was a founding trustee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, a trustee of Columbia College Chicago, and a member of the Kennedy School’s alumni board. He was also president of PASCo Consultants, a public policy advocacy group. The upper lobby of the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square was named in Sweeney’s honor, and he received the Walks of Life Award from the Irish American Archives Society in 2016.
In 1983, he married Emily (Mirsky) Sweeney, who capped her legal career as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, serving 10 years in the office overall. They had one daughter, Margaret Anne Sweeney, who followed her mother’s footsteps as an assistant prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Sweeney is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Avon.
Daniel Brennan and David Patrick Ryan