Jackson Deflects Mayoral Rumors, Jones Keeps "Seriously Considering" Run, Kelley, Kucinich, Williams Biding Time

Basheer Jones
Basheer Jones

Eleven weeks before the filing deadline in the 2021 Cleveland mayoral race, major presumed candidates still have not officially launched their campaigns. Time, one would think, is of the essence.

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley concluded a ward-by-ward listening tour last week — a tour for which he received largely negative reviews — but said that he would not make up his mind regarding his mayoral run until he'd heard from residents across the city. He has not yet announced.

Former mayor and congressman Dennis Kucinich has been content to send out holiday mailers and keep his name in the news with occasional statements sent to the media regarding hot-button topics du jour.

State Senator Sandra Williams, who has openly considered running for the office, has been relatively quiet, but sources say she could be launching in the coming weeks.

Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones has pulled petitions at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections but has not yet formally announced his candidacy. In a Monday fundraising email viewed by Scene, Jones told supporters that he was "seriously considering" running for Mayor, something he's been doing for months. 

"I love the city of Cleveland. It's the City that gave my family shelter. It's the City that raised me. It's the City that taught me invaluable lessons as a young man. And it's a City that I came back to with the hopes of making it a city for everyone," he wrote. "Cleveland is at a major crossroads at the moment. The current leadership has become too comfortable with the status quo all while many communities continue to be left behind."

Frank Jackson is meanwhile trying to douse the flames of speculation after Norm Edwards, the stentorian leader of Cleveland's Black Contractors Group, sent an email to supporters Thursday endorsing Jackson for Mayor and saying that Jackson informed him he planned to run again.

Jackson told cleveland.com that Edwards misinterpreted his statements over the phone and that he'd "tell the people first" when he ultimately decided one way or the other. Unlike in elections past, Jackson has not been fundraising, and the recent departure of top aides suggested to many that he wouldn't be seeking an unprecedented fifth term. 

Edwards, though, is insistent that Jackson told him he was running.
Jackson also made headlines today by endorsing Nina Turner in the 11th District congressional race, putting him at odds with County Executive Armond Budish and other local leaders who have thrown their support behind Shontel Brown, the Cuyahoga County Councilwoman and Chair of the Cuyahoga County Dems.

"[Nina Turner] is battle tested and uniquely qualified to represent us in Washington — not just in her experience but in her commitment to the people," Jackson said in a statement. "I know Nina and have worked and served with her on many complex issues that positively impacted Cleveland residents, including greater educational and training opportunities for our children, new business development and safe housing for seniors."

A statement from Turner's press office announcing the endorsement said that Jackson's "fingerprints on the economic vitality and future of Cleveland will be present for generations to come."

Young executive Justin Bibb and former councilman and mayoral candidate Zack Reed have both launched campaigns and are actively gathering signatures at locations across town.

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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