Justin Bibb Is Not One of Cleveland's Most Interesting People

High-profile does not mean interesting, sorry Cleveland Magazine

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click to enlarge Bibb gets some shots up at Tower City after NBA All-Star press conference. Is that interesting? - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
Bibb gets some shots up at Tower City after NBA All-Star press conference. Is that interesting?

Cleveland Magazine this week released its annual Most Interesting People issue, with this year's theme being the city's "new guard."

Included on and leading the list is Justin Bibb, who is, by Cleveland Magazine's estimation, not only interesting but interesting enough to be the first two-time selection after appearing on the very same list last year.

No offense to the mayor, or to Cleveland Magazine's staff, but Bibb is not one of the city's most interesting people. We'd submit that he isn't even one of the 10 most interesting people working at City Hall.

Smart? Dapper (loving the turtleneck under the blazer)? Ambitious? Important? Innovative? High-profile?

The 35-year-old is all of those things, and more.

But interesting?

Hardly.

Hot take? Perhaps.

What makes Bibb interesting to Cleveland Magazine? Largely that the new mayor is facing predictable hurdles in his first year in an interesting job. He's run into roadblocks on issues big and small and is realizing that progress won't come as quickly as he thought.

"I want to be disruptive," he told the mag, but admitted, "the speed is frustrating sometimes.”

Which isn't to downplay what his administration has accomplished in a year, a dizzying stretch of activity and accomplishment that feels downright supersonic compared to the languid last years of the Jackson era.

But Bibb's persona, at least the public version, is one of guarded composure and jargony business-speak. As Signal's Nick Castele noted in a profile of Bibb this month, "He talks about identifying 'pain points.' He won’t just over prepare for the snow, he’ll 'over-index' on it."

Consider Cleveland entranced.

He's seemingly never candid, rarely gets off message, and isn't even that interesting to those who cover the city, and while those are desirable qualities in an effective politician who is trying to slowly right a wayward ship, they hardly make for an interesting one.

No one's asking Bibb to have a "Butthole of America" moment, but he could stand to unclench his.

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