After months of speculation, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced Thursday evening that he would not be seeking an unprecedented fifth term in office.
In a tele-Town Hall event that had been promoted feverishly by the city's social media accounts in previous weeks, the four-term Mayor recapitulated the central tenets of his leadership philosophy — public service is an honorable profession; a city cannot be great until the "least of us" partake in prosperity, etc. — and announced that he would complete his fourth term and then retire.
Jackson grew up in Cleveland's Central neighborhood, served on City Council and first ran for Mayor against incumbent Jane Campbell in 2005. He has been at the helm of the city ever since.
Jackson said that he continues to be haunted by many of the same things that haunted him as a young activist and councilman: drugs, violence, poverty, despair. And he said that while he knows there is much work to be done in Cleveland to combat these social ills, his time had come to pass the baton.
"This is a relay race, not a sprint," he said, inviting voters to make sure that his successor "runs hard and runs true."
Jackson's prepared remarks, heartfelt sentiments from a worn-out city leader chewed up by "the beast" — his term for the forces perpetuating institutionalized inequities, disparities, and racism — were followed by a promotional video featuring comments from a who's-who of high-profile Jackson supporters and donors. It concluded with a sendoff from none other than actor Samuel L. Jackson, who said it was "an honor and a privilege" to have met the Mayor during his time filming The Avengers
and Captain America: Winter Soldier
An audience Q&A consisted chiefly of well-wishers, who thanked Jackson for his years of service. Jackson did say he was not prepared to endorse a candidate in the 2021 race, but he said he would consider it.
Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.