Having not campaigned for anything or anyone since 1997, former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White enthusiastically endorsed 34-year-old nonprofit executive Justin Bibb for mayor Wednesday morning.
Michael White became mayor at age 37 and served three terms from 1990 to 2001. For the past twenty years, he has been largely absent from public life, devoting his energies to an alpaca farm and winery
in Newcomerstown, Ohio. In 2017, though, he coordinated a last-minute Super PAC
with regional big-ticket financiers Al Ratner, Fred Nance and Dominic Ozanne to guarantee Frank Jackson's victory against Zack Reed.
Wednesday, in remarks delivered at Bibb's childhood home on the Southeast side, White said that Bibb was "worthy and ready" for the job he once held, and he rebuffed those who criticized Bibb for his youth and lack of political experience.
"I've heard all the chatter," White said. "'He hasn't been in politics that long.' Well, look what politics has got us. Look what business as usual has got us. We don't need business as usual. We need a new day in Cleveland. We need more, we need it faster, and we need it to happen today."
White said he made the decision to endorse Bibb for all the neighborhoods of Cleveland and for the people who live there. He described Bibb as the product of his mother's and grandmother's wishes and said that he "checked all the boxes" to get where he is today, the same boxes that White himself checked before his mayoral run in 1989, in which he upset then council president George Forbes.
Standing before a crowd that included former GCP President Joe Roman and Forest City Enterprises' erstwhile Chairman and CEO James Ratner, Bibb said he was honored to accept White's endorsement.
"When I launched this campaign, they told me I had to wait my turn," Bibb said, "that I didn't know how City hall operated. But for the last seven months, we've shown this city that we are ready, that we're not waiting on anybody."
Hours later, at the West Side Market, candidate Dennis Kucinich was endorsed by former Cleveland area congresswoman and city councilwoman Mary Rose Oakar.
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